7 criteria TikTok's algorithms look for and how brands can make sure their videos reach the widest audience possible

  • TikTok has become one of the most powerful ways businesses can reach new audiences and market their brands.
  • In a recent episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast, TikTok growth expert and consultant Michael Sanchez said that the social media platform is different from others in the way its algorithms are tailored to each user.
  • He listed the seven key data points TikTok's algorithms use to evaluate content — which businesses looking to build up their presence can use to ensure their posts are engaging audiences.
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Though shrouded in recent controversy after President Donald Trump threatened to ban it, the short-form video platform TikTok has become one of the most powerful ways businesses can reach new audiences and market their brands to a global audience of more than 800 million users. 

In a recent episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast, host Michael Stelzner spoke with TikTok growth expert and consultant Michael Sanchez who helps entrepreneurs cultivate their following and community. He also hosts a free Facebook group of more than 11,000 members to give the latest TikTok tips and hacks. 

In the podcast, Sanchez said that TikTok is fundamentally different from other social media platforms in the way its algorithms are tailored to each user. "It looks at more of the user engagement and activity, what your interests are, how you interact with videos, and then finds content that's very specific to those," he said. 

Sanchez listed seven key data points that TikTok's algorithms use to evaluate content to curate for its users. Businesses looking to build up their presence on the platform can analyze these points to ensure their posts are engaging their audiences.

  1. Video views
  2. Likes
  3. Comments
  4. Actions taken from watching your content (followed, saved, or shared)
  5. Average watch time
  6. Completion rate (or the percent of viewers who watch the whole video)
  7. Video integrity

Sanchez said that people tend to overlook video integrity, which is an evaluation of the video's content. TikTok looks for signifiers like whether each element is original or copyrighted. For example, the image recognition software will flag content that uses logos from other social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. "You'll notice that your views just stop — it just plummets all of a sudden." Sanchez said. 

A video could also get flagged if it contains violent, inappropriate, or risky behavior that could result in injury. 

The goal for marketers is to appear on TikTok's "For You" page, the function that allows users to discover content from accounts they don't follow. Videos that are flagged for unoriginal or violent content will be suppressed on that page. 

To make the most of your content, and to build up an audience, Sanchez suggested brands post on TikTok at least once a day. According to venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, users spent an average of 52 minutes a day on TikTok last year. If you don't post consistently, they're likely to find new content to watch and accounts to follow. 

"TikTok really values consistency and not even just from the algorithm, it's also the actual creators themselves and the viewers themselves," he said. 

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