The Secret Behind TikTok’s ‘For You Page’ Algorithm

Ross Dillon
4 min readJan 16, 2020

TikTok is a drug.

Photo by Harry Cunningham on Unsplash

First off I want to say TikTok, much like other social media is time consuming and addictive. But don’t worry, I’m with you on this one, sadly I’ll probably spend over an hour a day scrolling through the ‘for you page.’ I enjoy the emotions short videos can give you, especially when they’re funny. But nonetheless like many technology companies, they’re trapping you in an endless screen time loop.

TikTok is very good at catering the ‘for you page’ to their audience, whether through location, similar videos, or popular videos.

The platform will show you videos with a range of different likes, and once in awhile a video with over a million likes will pop up and everyone will also want that fame. But many content creators fall very short of that goal, making it very content competitive. Millions of likes is near impossible with how saturated TikTok is now.

So how does the ‘for you page’ work?

The Algorithm

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

This is what you came here for, let’s talk about the infamous algorithm.

Videos can receive 0 views, 100 views, 1000 views, 10000 views, even millions.

Within minutes to hours after a video is uploaded, TikTok will show it to a small number of TikTok users in between more popular ‘for you page’ videos.

The algorithm measures how much of your video is watched, as well as Likes, comments, shares, and downloads. The ratio is unclear although some sites claim it may be 1 like for every 10 views in order to expand audience. This appears to be a pretty accurate estimate based off my research.

There is no evidence #fyp or #foryoupage gets your video on the for you page. So you can steer away from those tags to more niche hashtags to better cater to an audience who will like your videos.

How Do You Increase Your Chance of Trending?

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

Like many other social platforms, time of day is crucial and it goes by where you live for the most part. Monday through Friday posting between 1–3 p.m. seems to perform better. This is when people are awake and a lot of people are getting bored at school or just getting home from school. Saturday nights and midday Sunday. Your posts typically will be shown to 100–500 people first.

There is a possibility if you post a lot of videos, that your original audience circulation will decrease. It is believed newer accounts will have videos shown to 500 people originally, and I’ve had my original circulation fall to around 250 to even just 50 people. If your content isn’t likable, your circulation will fall.

If the video is good you’ll get a few thousand views, then it gets pushed to a wider circle and the circles just keep getting bigger before they stop showing it when user interaction doesn’t compete with higher ranking videos. Views and replays are important, but I think user actions are weighed heavier in creating a rating that will determine if your content gets pushed to the next group.

Ideally if you want full playthroughs you want to keep your video short and full of content so users don’t just click past it.

Here’s some tips on content when creating a video:

A. Be attractive. (You don’t have to even be sexual (please don’t) but human nature attracts us to beautiful people.)

B. Be funny. (It’s hard to be original but people love videos that radiate the same energy as vines or have a good punch line.)

C. Tell a Story. (Story times can be interesting or emotional and keeps viewers engaged.)

D. Show something really cool. (Science experiments, photography spots, city exploration, raves, people want to see stuff they usually don’t do themselves.)

E. Be relatable. (When…) Relatable relationship problems or childhood memories go over well.

F. Make a goal. (‘Help me become famous’ works once in a long while.)

G. Combine all of the things above.

H. Doing Tik Tok dances themselves don’t really trend as much as they used to unless the audience finds the bit comical, creative, or attractive. Sorry for all you wannabe Charli’s.

I’ve been Ross Dillon, and you’ve been a great reader.

Avid TikTok user. UX Design student & freelance Designer.