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Understanding the TikTok Algorithm in 2025

Social media algorithms often take the blame for badly performing content. Yet, while these algorithms may feel mysterious, many of their preferences are highly predictable. With a good understanding of their mechanisms, you can give your content the best chance of reaching a large audience.

three people holding out their phones with the #tiktok written on it
three people holding out their phones with the #tiktok written on it

Key Takeaways:

  • The TikTok algorithm: Like the YouTube or Instagram algorithm, the TikTok algorithm's goal is to provide highly relevant and engaging content to every user. However, the exact workings of the mechanism are like a secret sauce, unavailable to the public.
  • How to beat the algorithm: Quality content that's watched to the end, engaged with, and features relevant keywords or hashtags in the captions is more likely to be featured on users' FYP.
  • Best times to post: Generally, Tuesday to Thursday mornings, from 9 to 10 a.m.,
  • 2023-2024 algorithm changes: TikTok now prioritises diverse content to prevent repetitive feed experiences. It has also introduced new features to promote longer video content and boost user engagement.
  • 2025 updates: TikTok is likely to continue enhancing its algorithm to increase personalisation

The TikTok algorithm explained

Like any other social media platform, TikTok's algorithm tries to serve each user with personalised and optimised content. In other words, the AI-driven algorithm tries to configure the best possible home page. On TikTok, that home page is the "For You" page, also referred to as FYP, which is tailored to each user's interests.

How does the algorithm work on TikTok?

Ultimately, the goal is to keep users on and returning to the platform. As a result, each “For You” page shows different content. This has many advantages, of course, but it can also create a social media bubble that users may not even notice.

For brands, it means that before starting any influencer marketing campaign, you need to understand and characterise your target audience to ensure your content matches their interests.

What does TikTok say about the meaning of its algorithm?

TikTok says of its algorithm: “A video stream tailored to your interests, making it easy to find content and creators you love … Powered by a recommendation system that delivers content each user is likely to be interested in.”

Yet TikTok is very tight-lipped about the specifics of how its algorithm works because this technology is the feature that makes the platform so unique.

Part of this uniqueness is the opportunities the platform offers brands. For example, after seeing an ad on TikTok, 42% of users trust the brand more and 31% feel an increase in brand loyalty.

However, users must increase their content’s visibility to gain those views. Let’s explore the vital information you need to better understand TikTok and make the algorithm work for you.

Which videos are preferred by the TikTok algorithm?

Firstly, users' interactions with content are particularly influential to TikTok's algorithm. This means that a TikTok video's promotion happens exponentially. From the algorithm's perspective, the more likes, comments, shares, completions, and re-watches content has, the more likely it is to get. Therefore, it continues to show this highly engaging content to others.

We can't reiterate it enough: user opinions are important to TikTok. This is why videos regularly marked “not interested” will have difficulty gaining popularity. The impact will be even more significant if your target audience is disinterested. However, a “not interested” from a few users who aren’t your typical viewers is not a big deal, as the algorithm curates each “For You” page individually.

In addition, the topic or information the video communicates plays an important role. Brands and creators should, therefore, make sure to categorise their content clearly. Hashtags, which can increase the reach, are particularly helpful. You can find a guide for the correct and targeted use of hashtags on TikTok on the Kolsquare blog. Besides, the hashtags in the captions, video transcripts, audio, original sounds, and effects you choose all influence the algorithm.

The algorithm also considers your device's location and language preferences to decide for whom your content is relevant. So, before you start the campaign, check the location your app has selected, the language, and the type of mobile device you are using to post your content.

On the more social side, TikTok is also known for its trends. This means that trending audios or challenges are a great way to reach new target groups, no matter your follower count. In fact, 88% of users find that sound is essential on the platform. Typically, tracks with 120 or more beats per minute have the highest view-through rate.

But remember: trends are short-lived, and you must react quickly to avoid missing the momentum.

With the launch of SoundOn in May 2022, TikTok is challenging the well-known music platform Spotify, highlighting the importance of music on the app. While official songs often go viral, original sounds with remixes, speech, or random noises can perform well.

Take advantage of TikTok’s built-in features, such as effects and text editing, to add impact. According to the app, “[t]hese native features help your content feel native on the platform, which can also help it appear on more For You pages!”

The good thing about TikTok? Unlike other social networks, the TikTok algorithm does not really care about how many followers your account has or how other videos have performed on the platform. Everyone has a chance to go viral on TikTok!

As Professor of Computer Science, Julian Mcauley pointed out, "The company’s edge comes from combining machine learning with fantastic volumes of data, highly engaged users, and a setting where users are amenable to consuming algorithmically recommended content (think how few other settings have all of these characteristics!). Not some algorithmic magic.”

How to "beat" or "outsmart" the algorithm and get on the FYP on TikTok?

Let's look at some tips on how to use the TikTok algorithm to your benefit and ultimately profit from it. Even though the popular app has increased the video length to a maximum of ten minutes, the tendency remains for shorter videos. Since the TikTok algorithm also counts how many users have watched your video until the end, i.e., the video completion rate, the following still applies: short is good and engaging, and high-quality content is even better.

Of course, it’s best to captivate viewers from start to finish. Here’s why TikTok is turning to long video formats. While pushing for success is important, you must remember why you're on TikTok in the first place and keep your brand values and goals in mind: What messages do you want to communicate? Are you concerned with reach or engagement?

What time is the best time to post a TikTok video?

The time of posting is key to figuring out how the TikTok algorithm works. This can be different for everyone.

As a result, the first step is to understand your audience.  This means determining who your followers are and where they are located. Use TikTok’s own analytics tools to find out when your audience is most active to make sure your video plays on many FYPs.  To view the analytics pages, you must first upgrade your account to a Pro account, either Creator or Business.

In addition to the analytics tools for each Pro Account, TikTok offers an overview page for general statistics about the platform. The app provides data on trending hashtags, songs, creators, and TikTok videos in its own Creative Center on a daily basis. Trend Discovery is designed to inspire, update, and maximise success on the platform. Upgrade to a TikTok Pro account to access analytics on follower demographics, top territories, and activity times.

Generally, Tuesday through Thursday mornings, from 9 to 10 a.m., are good times to post new content. However, here's a more in-depth breakdown:

  • General Recommendations for the UK:
    • Monday: 6 a.m., 10 a.m., 10 p.m.
    • Tuesday: 2 a.m., 4 a.m., 9 a.m.
    • Wednesday: 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 11 a.m.
    • Thursday: 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 7 p.m.
    • Friday: 5 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m.
    • Saturday: 11 a.m., 7 p.m., 8 p.m.
    • Sunday: 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 4 p.m.

Despite these general recommendations, it's best to test different posting times and monitor performance to identify the best times for your specific audience.

By understanding your audience, experimenting with posting times, and leveraging trends and engagement tactics, you can optimize your TikTok presence and increase your chances of going viral.

Here's a full guide to TikTok influencer marketing.

Best practices: How to gain more views and go viral on TikTok?

While the following tactics are likely to raise your chances of gaining millions of views, there is, unfortunately, no set formula. You can do everything right and still have your content mysteriously discarded by the algorithm.

Despite these challenges, let's not lose hope. Here are the best practices to follow:

  • Regular Posting: Post consistently, ideally 1-3 times daily.
  • Engagement: Create content that generates high engagement.
  • Trends: Use trending sounds and hashtags relevant to your brand.
  • Watch Time: Create content that retains viewers’ attention to the end.
  • First Few Seconds: The first few seconds of your video will decide whether users stick around to watch the rest. Therefore, they must be engaging.
  • Shorter Videos: Create shorter, high-quality videos to maintain high completion rates.
  • Content Categorisation: Use categories, hashtags, audio, effects, and transcripts.
  • Localisation: Determine who your followers are and where they are located. Set your device location and language account settings to match your target audiences.
  • Experiment and Optimise: Test different posting times and monitor performance. Adjust your approach based on when your audience is most active.
  • Utilise Analytics Tools: Upgrade to a TikTok Pro account for detailed analytics. Monitor trending hashtags, songs, and videos using TikTok’s Creative Center.

Following these steps will help you enhance your TikTok presence and show the app that you are dedicated to creating quality content.

TikTok for Brands: How to launch an Influencer Marketing Campaign on TikTok?

Compared with other social platforms, TikTok is highly engaging. In addition, the platform celebrates authentic content, which is exactly what brands need to build genuine connections with their followers. These factors come together to significantly increase the potential for virality.

In addition, TikTok, with a majority demographic of under 35, gives the opportunity to connect with younger audiences.

The following are the most essential features to get your influencer marketing recognised by the algorithm:

Identifying the right influencers

It is important to choose influencers relevant to your brand. Their style, niche, and audience should closely match your brand's. In addition, you should choose an influencer based on their engagement rates rather than solely relying on superficial metrics, such as follower count.

Once you have chosen the influencer you want to work with, it's recommended that you create a contract to protect your collaboration.

Creating effective campaigns

Allowing influencers to maintain their authentic voice ensures that their content remains genuine and resonates with their audience. After all, these creators have grown their following through their content and deeply understand their niches.

Additionally, leveraging trending challenges, hashtags, and sounds can significantly amplify the reach of your campaigns. These elements tap into existing user interest and participation, increasing visibility and the potential for virality.

Setting clear, measurable goals for influencer campaigns helps create success metrics and encourages you to align the campaign strategy with your overall marketing objectives, monitor progress more effectively, and adjust strategies as needed.

Measuring success

Tracking views, engagement, follower growth, and conversion rates provides a comprehensive overview of the campaign's impact, allowing you to assess its effectiveness and return on investment. These metrics offer valuable insights into how well the campaign is performing and highlight areas for improvement. Utilising TikTok’s analytics and third-party tools to measure campaign performance offers detailed insights into audience behaviour and engagement patterns. These tools enable data-driven decisions, helping you understand what resonates with your audience and optimise future campaigns for better results. By consistently analysing these metrics, you can refine your strategies and achieve sustained success on the platform.

Easing the process with platforms like Kolsquare

All these steps can be significantly streamlined with the help of an influencer marketing platform like Kolsquare. Kolsquare tools help you identify the right influencers, manage campaigns, and measure success effectively.

With comprehensive analytics and an extensive database of influencers, Kolsquare simplifies the process of finding influencers whose content aligns with your brand values and image.

The platform's tools help you evaluate engagement rates, track campaign performance, and make data-driven decisions to optimise your influencer marketing strategy.

Book in for a free demo today!

Has TikTok changed its algorithm between 2023 and 2024?

As TikTok continues to grow and evolve, its algorithm undergoes significant updates to enhance user experience and engagement. For brands and content creators, staying up-to-date with these changes is crucial to leverage the platform effectively.

Here are the key updates to the TikTok algorithm for 2023-2024:

1. Enhanced personalisation

The TikTok algorithm in 2023-2024 has doubled down on promoting personalised content. As machine learning learns more, the platform more accurately predicts user preferences by analysing their interactions with previous posts, watch history, and engagement patterns. This means that content is hyper-tuned to individual tastes. For brands, this means they must create content that is more relevant than ever to capture their target audience’s attention.

2. Diverse content exposure

To combat the creation of echo chambers and ensure users are exposed to a broader range of content, TikTok has introduced updates that occasionally insert content outside of a user’s typical viewing habits into their FYP. This not only provides users with a richer experience but also gives brands an opportunity to reach new and diverse audiences. For marketers, it’s an invitation to create versatile content that can appeal to a wide spectrum of viewers.

Now, users are 1.8x more likely to agree that TikTok shows them new topics they didn't even know they enjoyed.

3. Increased focus on video quality and authenticity

The algorithm now considers video quality and authenticity as some of the main factors for ranking. High-resolution videos with clear audio and compelling visuals are more likely to be promoted. Additionally, the algorithm rewards content that feels genuine and authentic, which resonates better with people who are constantly bombarded with fake and insincere content.

Using original sounds, genuine content, and intriguing narrative structures can help. Research shows that ads that make users curious are watched 1.4x longer.

For brands, this means investing in quality production while maintaining an authentic voice is more important than ever.

4. Interactivity and engagement

Engagement metrics such as likes, shares, comments, and watch time continue to be critical, but the algorithm now also considers interactive elements like polls, Q&A features, and live streams. These interactive features boost engagement rates and signal to the algorithm that the content is valuable and engaging. Brands should incorporate these elements to foster deeper interaction with their audience.

5. Trend sensitivity

TikTok’s algorithm has become more adept at identifying and promoting trending content. This trend sensitivity means that content related to current events, popular challenges, or viral topics has a higher chance of being featured on the FYP. Brands should stay on top of trending topics and be agile in their content creation to capitalise on these trends.

6. Localised content

Localisation has been enhanced, with the algorithm prioritising content that resonates with local cultures and languages. For global brands, this means tailoring content to fit local contexts and languages can significantly boost engagement and reach.

7. AI-driven content moderation

To ensure a safe and positive environment, TikTok has implemented more robust AI-driven content moderation. The algorithm now better identifies and suppresses harmful or inappropriate content. Brands need to be mindful of community guidelines and ensure their content is appropriate and respectful to avoid penalties.

8. Enhanced analytics for creators

TikTok has improved its analytics dashboard, providing more granular insights into content performance. This includes detailed metrics on audience demographics, peak engagement times, and viewer retention rates. Brands can leverage these insights to fine-tune their content strategies and improve performance.

9. Sustainability and social responsibility content

Reflecting broader societal trends, the algorithm now favours content that highlights sustainability and social responsibility. Brands that promote eco-friendly practices, social justice initiatives, and other positive societal impacts are more likely to see their content promoted.

10. Collaborative content and duets

Collaborative features like Duets and Stitch have gained more prominence. The algorithm boosts content that encourages collaboration and user participation. Brands can use these features to create interactive campaigns that invite user contributions, fostering a sense of community and engagement.

TikTok CEO Chew Shou Zi highlighted how the app's algorithm helps users find communities based on shared interests rather than existing social connections. He shared, "I’ve heard so many stories of people who have found their communities because of the content that they’re posting."

TikTok's current standing and unpredictable future: 2025 and beyond

The US government has announced plans to ban TikTok by January 2025, citing national security concerns related to data privacy and the app's Chinese ownership. If implemented, this ban will have far-reaching consequences for the platform's massive user base and content creators in the US. As one New York Times article put it, "Love, Hate or Fear It, ​​TikTok Has Changed America."

In contrast, the UK has not taken steps to ban the platform. However, the political landscape can change rapidly.

Despite these external pressures, TikTok is still a highly engaging platform. Knowing its popularity in the global market, it plans several changes to enhance user experience and maintain its competitive edge:

  • Machine Learning Upgrades: TikTok will implement advanced machine learning models capable of more deeply understanding user preferences and delivering more personalised content on the For You page.
  • AI-Driven Moderation: TikTok will enhance its content moderation algorithms using AI to enforce community guidelines, creating a safer and more welcoming environment for users.
  • Advanced Analytics: New tools will allow content creators to analyse the performance of their videos, helping them optimise content for better engagement.
  • Augmented Reality Effects: Enhanced AR capabilities on its "Effects House" feature will allow users to create more immersive and engaging content, perhaps even virtual events and concerts.
  • Brand Partnerships: Enhanced tools for brands to create shoppable content, driving monetization opportunities for both creators and TikTok.
  • TikTok Notes: TikTok is planning to launch a photo and text-driven app named "TikTok Notes." It's thought that it will closely resemble Instagram.

These 2025 features will, in general, push towards more personalisation and the use of more advanced technologies.

Exposed: The dangers of the TikTok algorithm

While the TikTok algorithm is highly effective at curating personalised content for users, it poses several significant challenges for businesses, individual content creators, and users.

One of the primary pitfalls lies in the algorithm's unpredictable nature, which can lead to content not being heard or seen by the desired target audience. That's because TikTok’s algorithm favours organic engagement, which can't be bought. This means that even high-quality content that does everything right, like adding hashtags to captions and captivating, clear visuals, might get lost in the vast sea of videos if it doesn't quickly capture the attention and interaction of viewers.

For brands investing time and resources into their TikTok strategy, this unpredictability can result in inconsistent performance and difficulty in achieving marketing goals. This is especially likely to happen when content is highly curated and lacks the genuine connection that often sparks a viral post.

In addition, the algorithm's focus on trending content can drive businesses to prioritise virality over substance. Too often, this leads them to post videos that may not align with their core values or long-term strategy.

While hopping on trends can boost short-term engagement and even be effective if chosen carefully, it can also dilute the brand’s message and identity, confusing people who view content about what the brand truly stands for.

The pressure to churn out viral content may also strain creative resources and lead to burnout among marketing teams and influencers. For example, TikTok creator Mackenzie Newcomb shared with the New York Post, “There’s great things about it, but it’s also extremely emotionally exhausting and not always worth it.” Unfortunately, Newcomb is not alone; according to studies, 78% of content creators suffer from burnout, perpetuated by the regular and unpredictable shifts in algorithms and platforms.

For individual users, particularly influencers, the TikTok algorithm can have a profound impact on mental health and social dynamics. The platform's addictive nature, driven by the algorithm's endless stream of engaging content, can result in excessive screen time and unhealthy comparisons. Influencers may feel compelled to continually chase likes, comments, and shares to stay relevant, which can create stress and anxiety.

Furthermore, the emphasis on virality can lead to a culture where creators prioritise sensational or controversial content over positive and meaningful interactions, potentially fostering a toxic online environment.

For brands looking to create influencer partnerships for marketing purposes, the dangers highlight the need to create respectful bonds and pay influencers for their work. Investing in your collaboration is likely to strengthen the business relationship and encourage influencers to create better work.

However, a strong collaboration can only be built with an influencer with:

  • Values and style align with your brand's
  • Good reach and engaged followers
  • Followers within your target audience and in the right location

These metrics are essential. Yet, an in-depth analysis of many potential candidates costs significant time and effort. Working with an influencer marketing platform, such as Kolsquare, can cut these arduous processes. With a huge database containing any influencer with 5,000+ followers on any platform, Kolsquare gives you the best chance of finding highly compatible creators who align with your requirements and keep providing value long-term.

Use filters and AI-driven search to shortlist influencers, then view their profiles to learn their engagement rates, the credibility of their followers, the visibility you will earn, and more!

Book in for a free demo today.

How do I increase my TikTok algorithm success?

Yes, there are challenges, But brands and influencers can make the TikTok algorithm work for them.

To understand how the TikTok algorithm works for your target audience, start by creating content specifically tailored to their demographics, interests, and behaviours. Use TikTok's analytics tools to monitor key metrics such as video views, likes, shares, comments, and watch time. This data provides insights into what type of content resonates best with your audience. Engage actively with your followers by responding to comments and participating in trends relevant to them, as high engagement levels are critical for boosting visibility on the platform.

Additionally, experiment with different content formats, posting times, and hashtag strategies to see what maximises reach and engagement. Utilise TikTok's Creative Centre to stay informed about trending content and popular hashtags. By regularly analysing performance data and adjusting your strategy accordingly, you can effectively align your content with the preferences of your target audience, ensuring better algorithmic placement and increased overall engagement.

About Kolsquare

Kolsquare is Europe’s leading Influencer Marketing platform, a data-driven solution that allows brands to scale their KOL Marketing strategies and implement authentic partnerships with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). Kolsquare’s technology enables marketing professionals to easily identify the best Content Creators profiles by filtering their content and audience, and to build and manage their campaigns from A to Z, including measuring results and benchmarking performance against competitors. Kolsquare has built the largest community of influencer marketing experts in the world, and offers hundreds of customers (Coca-Cola, Netflix, Sony Music, Publicis, Sézane, Sephora, El Corte Inglés, Lacoste, …) the latest Big Data, AI and Machine Learning technologies to drive inspiring partnerships, tapping into an exhaustive network covering 100% of  KOLs with more than 5,000 followers in 180 countries on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. As a Benefit Company, Kolsquare has been pioneering Responsible Influence by championing transparency, ethical practices, and meaningful collaborations to inspire change.

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