How Tik-Tok algorithms work in 2021


Tik-Tok has become popular in many ways because of its algorithms, which give you the ability to get *twenty thousand or even millions of views “just for fun” (spoiler: not just). Everyone wants to know what the principle of this social network is, and how to “hack” Tic-Toc in order to break into the leaders, considering that millions of the same ambitious users are already sitting there, and they want the same thing as you do?

In this article, we’ll tell you how the Tic Toc algorithms work, what’s changed in 2021, and what to prepare for when you enter into an unequal battle with this social network.

How do Tik-Tok algorithms work: all of the basic mechanics

It’s worth stating right away – no one, nowhere and never will give out absolutely all the secrets of the algorithms, only those who created these algorithms know this information. But what we do know for sure:

  • content is checked by artificial intelligence (the real one just can’t handle so many lapses, dances and challenges);
  • algorithms change frequently (to get on the nerves of ticktockers so that you’re constantly improving);
  • the further you go, the harder it is to advance – a year ago you could become a millionaire on lipsinks, and now you have to delete the application to hell to work harder;
  • everyone gets their first views, but it’s too early to rejoice.


Let’s walk through the key aspects.

New account

What can newcomers expect? Imagine a cheetah watching an antelope, just waiting for it to make a mistake and swiftly pounce and…. you get the idea. It’s about the same way Tic Tac looks at you when you first go there, hoping to gather “a million subscribers overnight.”

On new recruits’ accounts, every little thing is tracked:

  • content – what or who is depicted in the frame, what items are there, whether parts of the video are repeated from clip to clip;
  • copyright compliance – no fragments of someone else’s videos in the video;
  • how the video was shot – with a phone camera, screen capture, laptop screen capture, animation;
  • use of an editor – where the video is edited: in TT or another editor, are filters used.
  • music – how much trend music, own or from TT library.
  • words and description for the video;
  • hashtags;


P.S. All of the above is monitored in general on all accounts, but the content of newcomers is studied particularly closely, and here any error can kill all the initiatives at the root.

To avoid getting in trouble for some toy knife in the frame – study the Tik-Tok rules inside out. True, like any social network, it has its own “unspoken rules,” such as:

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– The account should have no more than 30% borrowed content, but it’s better to have no content at all;

– TT gives preference to videos shot and edited with his editor – if you use another program, at least put a filter, music from the library or text in the built-in editor on top;

– TT promotes clips with live people in the frame – yes, there are clips with animation or screen capture, but they are very few and are mostly official accounts like a Fortnite account;

– don’t make a splash screen at the end of your video calling you to sign up, like they do on YouTube – TT will count that as repeating snippets (like you copying yourself).

No, your account will hardly be deleted for such mistakes (you will have to try very hard to get to that level), but a shadow ban on 5-6 videos is a real prospect. Knocking on the technical support is useless – the other end of the line will not answer.

It turns out something like a probationary period – if you hold out for the first video and show the result, then it will be easier. And here it is very (well, just VERY) important how your first videos will go, what will be the first views and interactions.

Tip: If you made a few videos to spare and put them out by the principle of “first worse, and delicious for later” – this is a failed strategy, because to the tasty things can not come. Post the coolest engaging videos right away so that subscribers will like and comment on you, and Tic Toc knows you’re a superstar and need to move you along.


First views

How does a social network give first views? Initially, everyone is given the first views, but I have a suspicion that some of the views are being inflated by the program itself (i.e., some % of views come from the TT bots).

Fact: the first two videos on the account have 592 and 593 views. A coincidence? I do not think so!

So, the first 2 videos easily get 500-600 views. Subsequent up to 100. Then the views are avalanche-like and depend on the first interactions – if the first 50-100 views had likes, comments, reposts and subscriptions, then give another 100-200 views, and so on upwards. At a certain point, the video can shoot for a few thousand if it has shown a good interaction ratio during the first 100-300 views. In fact, this is what determines the fate of the video – whether it stays in recommendations and gets there again.

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Fact: if you stop posting clips, the views on all videos stop. But if you start posting again, the views on the old videos start picking up along with the new ones. This trick encourages ticktockers not to stop and regularly generate new content, because there is a kind of dependence on the number of views.

Mechanics of getting into recommendations

So, the general principle of Tik-Tok’s algorithms (what it looks at when ranking) can be summarized in 9 lines:

  • likes under a video;
  • comments;
  • reposts;
  • video viewing duration;
  • switching to a profile after watching a video to see other videos by the author;
  • subscriptions after watching the video;
  • sounds;
  • hashtags;
  • description


Everything revolves around these metrics. Let’s say 10 people watched the video, 5 of them liked it, 2 wrote a comment, 3 reposted it, and 1 subscribed. For TT this is an indicator that the video is interesting and he will promote it. Another example – a video gets 100 views, 2 likes, 0 reposts and comments, no recommendation for this video.

What the author can do – only to influence the indicators of involvement, that is, to cause the viewers to be active. To do this you need:

  • shoot with trending music and hashtags;
  • use filters, effects and masks;
  • think up your own unique tricks that you will be recognized by and specially sought out in the Tik-Tok;
  • engage from the first seconds;
  • regularly post new videos;
  • release serial content;
  • make videos with an unpredictable storyline.


Tip: If you take a trending idea – shoot it in your own style, for example, everyone repeats the same move after each other to a track, and you come up with your own dance.

And this guy made a video about talking rice:

Stick to the rules from the list above and it will help you hit recommendations more often and stick around.

Fact: Tik Tok shows the user 8 different clips when they log into the app. Which clips are shown next depends on how the viewer interacted with the first 8. That is, the feed is constantly adjusting to the user’s interests.

Ranking in the top by hashtags, clips, effects

The principle is the same here. Suppose that one author came up with a new hashtag and a million videos were shot with it. The hashtag made it to the TOP, and now it is being promoted by Tik Tok itself. The authors in this top are ranked according to the same six indicators: the one with the highest total engagement rate for a particular video and profile is at the top of the hashtag top. It’s the same with clips and effects.

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Moreover, if you are the author of a trending track, your clip will be marked as an original and will be at the very top of the list of clips with that sound.

How the new Tick-Tock algorithms work after the changes

As we said, the algorithm mechanics are constantly changing, with the social network not always announcing the changes – you can only see them firsthand.


  • In 2019, Tik-Tok gave all videos views in the first hour – in 2021, the first views may appear in a few hours to a day.
  • Before, a video would gain views and not move on; now, if you post new videos regularly, older videos will also pull up in views.
  • At the beginning of 2021 there is an opportunity to make long videos up to 3 minutes, which, with the right approach, allows you to keep the audience longer and also likes the TT algorithms.
  • Tiktokers constantly complain about sudden drops in views for no apparent reason, and this has happened more than once. It is hard to say what exactly causes a sudden drop in stats – testing of new Tick-Tocom algorithms or increasing competition. Usually in such cases they advise not to panic and quietly post new videos.
  • In 2019, the opportunity to put a link in the profile could only be given to selected millionaire ticktokers; now the link can be put if you have a business account and it has no subscribers at all.
  • In 2020, some music tracks were made unavailable for use by corporate accounts – the rights holders covered the possibility to spin their tracks without paying royalties. This innovation has not yet affected ordinary users.
  • In spring, the social network disabled some functions for users under 18 years of age. For example, it is impossible to write personal messages.


Bottom line:

  • Newbies need to get through the first 10-20 videos;
  • first you need to post the most engaging content to immediately interest viewers and show Tik-Tok that you need to be promoted;
  • the first 5 videos necessarily get views, then they grow in an avalanche depending on how users react to them;
  • you need to post new content regularly so that views don’t stop.
  • Tick-Tock algorithms revolve around audience engagement and retention. Your job as an author is to influence these metrics. The trouble is that Tic Toc is constantly experimenting with algorithms without informing users – this suddenness factor does not play into the hands of authors, they often find out about the changes after the fact.

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