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May 25, 2021

Especially For You: How the TikTok algorithm personalises content and how businesses can avoid falling foul of it

Getting to grips with social media and figuring out how it can best support businesses is our raison d’etre (or why we get out of bed) at 24 fingers. As much as we love our work, it’s always handy when the big platforms give us a peek into how they function, and TikTok is the latest to pull back the curtain.  In a recent blog post, the video-sharing site revealed how the TikTok algorithm generates personalised content for users’ For You feeds, as well as some of the benefits and downsides of its system. Settle back to find out more. 

TikTok‘s recommendation system is built on several key drivers, including – but not limited to – device and account settings, user interactions and video information. The social media platform begins with an initial feed that is created with each new account, based on selected categories of interest and which is refined through subsequent interactions.  

So, if you only watched and shared entire videos about Essex-based donkey owners, that would form the majority of the personalised content served up by TikTok’s algorithm. 

Every time you interact with the platform, whether it’s to view a video, follow someone else, or dismiss content that is of no interest, the algorithm learns more about your interests. It also applies to hashtags, sounds, effects and trending topics on the Discover tab – they all enable TikTok’s algorithm to constantly personalise the For You feed.  

“Developing and maintaining TikTok’s recommendation system is a continuous process as we work to refine accuracy, adjust models and reassess the factors and weights that contribute to recommendations based on feedback from users, research and data”, the post said. 

For many business owners, using hashtags and trends is vital to getting the best from the platform but the blog post also revealed how they can avoid falling foul of the TikTok algorithm. 

“The For You feed generally won’t show two videos in a row made with the same sound or by the same creator,” the post warned. “We also don’t recommend duplicated content, content you’ve already seen before, or any content that’s considered spam”. 

Interestingly, as well as driving personalisation, TikTok is also working to avoid what it calls “filter bubbles” – recommendations that limit a users’ exposure to content outside their particular interest. The algorithm’s feathering in of content from elsewhere could offer creative business owners a chance to get their products in front of new customers.

So, what’s the key to getting the best out of the TikTok algorithm? In a nutshell: regularly post quality, original content that surfs a trend before it becomes yesterday’s news.

Still not sure where to start? Drop us a line at 24 fingers and we’ll wax up our boogie boards.

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Emma Goode


Friend, Sister. Mother, CEO @24_fingers. Nichiren Daishonin Buddhist. Essex girl.

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