By Breann Miller
It’s a common occurrence to see comments or posts questioning how you somehow got onto a certain ‘side’ of TikTok. Right now, I’ve found myself on the dancing kid from The Lorax side of TikTok. With one like or random search you can find your whole page shifted to a certain interest that you might not even understand it knew about you. So, how does this work and how does it change a brand’s ability to go viral?
Your For You page (FYP) is catered to you personally based on your recent likes, comments, shares, and more. While you might have a similar FYP to your friend, there’s never an exact replica of your FYP out there. This has made it hard for brands to go viral and stay consistent, because of the confusing algorithm. Research has found that there are certain aspects that help you beat the algorithm, but in reality, it is usually random.
User activity is how your FYP knows what type of content you enjoy, so it pushes similar content. They can also push content that relates to your location or places you interact with through your activity. Certain keywords play a role, whether you like a majority of videos with the keywords “#grwm” or “#booktok”. Both of these help push videos to the audiences that engage with them.
Researchers have tried to help brands “hack” the algorithm by giving them tips and tricks. Some of these include using trending audio or trending keywords. Certain lengths of time, such as videos under 15 seconds, will perform better because they can engage users who will watch the whole video. Finding a niche and exploring that will also help you gain an audience that will continue to get those reoccurring videos on their FYP. Some brands have done this well and continue to have good engagement and success with the algorithm. Duolingo, an app that helps you learn languages, has 6.6M followers and a combined 139.3M likes. They have done a great job at connecting with popular audiences, such as engaging with content around the Eras Tour, which has been a popular side of TikTok recently.
TikTok has become the outlier platform for a lot of brands because of its inconsistent algorithm. A brand that might before very well on Instagram, might not have the same success on TikTok. Follower count and past viral videos play no role in pushing further content from that account, which means every post could go viral or every post could flop. This has made TikTok a platform that people find trustworthy but also more connected to personal interests rather than advertisements.
Connect with Breann on LinkedIn