TikTok's 2022 Algorithm

Jacob Cardwell
Jacob Cardwell

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Ahhh the question we have all been asking recently… how does the TikTok algorithm actually work??? As with any huge question (from philosophy to mathematics), the answer involves a bit of science, a bit of guessing and a bit of luck.

At Spin, we have a team of TikTok experts who constantly communicate and collaborate in order to attempt to crack the elusive TikTok algorithm. Whilst we can’t produce a perfect equation for you (yet!), here are our combined thoughts:

TikTok’s algorithm is known to be highly personal, and seemingly somewhat handcrafted to each user. It shows recommended videos to users on the For You page (often abbreviated as the fyp) – which change over time depending on the users viewing preferences. This leads to weirdly accurate and relatable videos being fed to your fyp – which is, in part, responsible for the success of the app.

3 Key Factors:

As a creator or brand, there are three key factors to be aware of when posting/producing TikToks. Video information, User interactions, and Device/Account Settings:

📹 Video Information: TikTok assumes the user’s upcoming action by studying the content they view and seek out on the discover page. For example, this considers everything in your videos: captions, sounds, hashtags, effects/filters and trending topics.

👯‍♀️ User Interactions: like most social media platforms, TikTok tracks how a user interacts with the content they are shown on their fyp. This includes comments, likes, shares, favourites, follows, ‘not interested’ flags, reports and video completion rates.

⚙️ Device and Account Settings: These are the more bureaucratic (and boring) features such as language preference, country setting and the device type. These are embedded into the algorithm from the get-go. They aren’t a huge deal – but are something to bear in mind if you are trying to reach a more localised audience.

These three factors combine to control how far the video is pushed by the algorithm. Want to be that video that is popping up on everyone’s feed? Well, listen up. Here 5 knockout tips to help you utilise the algorithm for your gain. You will be an expert in no time:

Know Your Subcultures

If you have sharp eyes and a keen mind you will have noticed the importance of personalisation in the three above factors. Yes, it’s, of course, true that every social media (From MySpace 🪦 to TikTok) have been somewhat defined by an algorithmic personalised experience; but, it’s important to know that this is now a more crucial factor than ever before. Finding a niche subculture to join, connect with and communicate with is vital in this giant app. The user base is so fragmented that there isn’t always a point in trying to be totally wide-reaching. You can’t please everyone – so why try?

TikTok has, ultimately, taken this aspect one step further in its very programmed affordances – by encouraging users to predominantly reside/scroll on the fyp over their curated-by-following timelines.

This means that ‘TikTokers’ spend a majority of their in-app time on the fyp instead of connecting with the plethora of accounts they already follow. Begging the audience to follow you thus isn’t very relevant anymore.

This means it is absolutely vital to reach the correct audience through tapping into an existing digital community – or subculture. Understanding your brand’s most valued and relevant subculture will help you develop truly interconnected content for TikTokers, resulting in more trust, brand loyalty, and visibility.

From #DracoTok (yes that was a thing), #Cottagecore and #SpinTok (okay, we made that one up) – there’s a whole lot of subcultures to interact with. Go to the app and have an exploration to see which best fits your brand archetype.

Example – #CorporateTikTok

Size Matters, But Retention Matters More!

All those long video essays have had their time in the spotlight (looking at you, 8-hour video essay on the failure of Victorious), and TikTok posits a new model of video creation that favours shorter videos.

Shorter TikToks have, without a doubt, received a higher watch percentage – which is one factor that the algorithm heavily pushes when distributing TikToks to suitable audiences. Longer videos, don’t always have this perk.

If a user views a good percentage of your video – this signals a good sign for the algorithm. Better yet, if a user watches your video multiple times it is incredibly more likely that your video will spread across the fyp pages of similar users (through the key factors we spoke about above).

To ensure this attention and retention, it is a good idea to build a TikTok strategy around encouraging the viewer to watch your TikTok multiple times. Thus, a focus on shorter, digestible and engaging content is key (a perk of this is it can be quicker to produce large batches of content). We would say the sweet spot is around 10-15 seconds.

Length is not the only way to push for this outcome, however. By utilising in-app affordances (such as in-video text or sound choices) you should focus on hooking your audience from the get-go. The first few seconds of your video is vital: make it thumb-stopping.

A quick hack to help with this is using long in-video text compared to a short video – so a viewer will have to watch multiple times to read the text.

Example – @laraadkins

Hook ‘em in with a Caption

150 characters: it’s not a lot. To complicate the matter further – this includes hashtags (pretty mean of TikTok!). Captions on TikTok are a tricky topic – but you definitely should not ignore this potential real estate.

Like all good copy, a solid caption can win over the user to view the entirety of your video. Be creative and use a great caption to pique people’s interests. On TikTok a CTA becomes less about asking people to interact through comments and likes, and more about convincing them to watch a video.

Captions that could be considered a form of clickbait are, honestly, the best way to go. “Can’t believe what happens next!” or the good old “Watch until the end!”. Whilst clickbait may seem a tacky route to go down, as long as your content is solid enough to follow through on such promises, you should get out the other end unscathed.

(keep your eyes peeled for a Spin blog post on the best TikTok copy practices! 👀)


Be A Trend Chaser

67% of TikTokers prefer brand videos that creatively tackle trending topics and trending sounds. Choosing to participate in a trend may seem scary at first – but it is a great opportunity to connect with a whole new audience and will, ultimately, spread your brand’s reach on the fyp.

These trends can be localised (impacted by location settings etc.) and still incredibly personal (interlinking between many subcultures) – so thinking about how to create an original take on each trend is key. Nothing a little brainstorming session can’t fix.

Want to know how to scout out what tunes are popular at the moment? It’s pretty easy. Just tap the plus symbol at the bottom of the app, then tap add sound – a list of the current most popular sounds will appear. Happy listening!

Want to see how other brands tackle this? Here 6 Brands that are doing it right on TikTok.

Example – Reading Rainbow

Just Make Something!

We said at the beginning of this blog that TikTok is part science – which makes for a pretty easy blog post read. However, we also said it was a mixture of luck and guessing. This is important to remember.

TikTok is a platform where you have to learn what is best for each account by simply creating and posting – just keep your eyes on the numbers. So what are you waiting for? Get recording, editing and posting. We can’t wait to see the viral videos you all create 😉.

Example – Duolingo

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TikTok x Ticketmaster: Buying concert tickets through your FYP

What do Demi Lovato, the WWE, and Usher all have in common? Well, they’re just three of the artists and entertainment companies who are now benefiting from TikTok’s latest partnership with Ticketmaster. The new feature will allow users to purchase tickets for events directly through the TikTok app, meaning that you can go from scrolling through your FYP, to dancing along to Usher’s “Yeah!” in just a few taps.

Eligible creators will be able to search for relevant Ticketmaster events through the “add link” function before posting a video. They will then have the option to “add to video” which will display the Ticketmaster link to the event towards the bottom of the video once posted. Users will then be able to click on the link and, in a similar fashion to the Tiktok shop, will be taken to the Ticketmaster website in-app to continue browsing.

Spin Welcomes Fujifilm & Instax to the Roster

Japanese multinational conglomerate Fujifilm has appointed Spin to carry out an ongoing strategic social media service to continue to drive and develop their growth to new audiences.

A brand that is world-renowned for their work in the realms of photography, optics and wider electronics. Headquartered in Japan and first established in 1934, Spin couldn’t be happier to partner with the brand and support their innovation across social with the intrinsic synergy from their image-focused products to the constant evolution of the platforms we use to share this very outcome.

Explore more from Fujifilm & Instax here:



Spin is an award winning pure-play social media agency that combines the sharpest creative minds with the smartest performance specialists. For more information or to enquire about scaling your brand through social please email

Instagram in The Age of Video

Things are changing… again (and again, and again).

Instagram has, rather ironically, faced widespread backlash from a static asset created by photographer @illumitati and shared by thousands, including the queen of lip kits (and chickens) Kylie Jenner. We all know the famous phrase ‘a picture can say 1000 words, but here we are seeing the defiant power of a picture when put in the hands of everyday users

Here’s a quick Spin-centric rundown of why this happened, what happened next and what this means for brands.

Why Now?

It’s simple really:

When we think of TikTok we think of short video clips.

When we think of YouTube we think of lengthy videos.

When we think of Twitter we think of sassy snippets.

When we think of Facebook we think of our mums.

And, when we think of Instagram we think of a feed of static images.

Not so fast! Early this year, Instagram began testing a brand new version of its app’s home feed that featured full-screen photographs and videos, similar to TikTok, and the response was very very loud. Users said the feed was cluttered, ugly and pushing for the primacy of video far too hard. This was no accident; this feed re-jig came hand in hand with other recent changes which include an increasingly algorithmic main feed, a push for TikTok-style “reels” videos, and the increasing presence of a remix function.

These changes have led to everyday users struggling to interact with their friends and family’s posts which get sucked down the bottom of the algorithm in favour of ads and (poorly) recommended posts, hand-curated by the algorithm.

Soon, the post by @illumitati began to spread like wildfire, with a whole app seemingly uniting behind a shared hatred for the new update. The post, overall, gained 2.2 million likes and 43k comments. And, eventually, the spreading of this post led to collective action – with a petition being signed over 300k times.

What may seem like a funny or playful post, could be disastrous for Instagram. Let’s not forget that when Kylie Jenner last talked smack about a social media app, the tweet reduced its market price by $1.3 BILLION (🪦 RIP Snapchat).

What’s Going on Now?

Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s CEO (aka the cause of many SMMs’ stress and anxiety), quickly responded to the widespread criticism with a video (lol) carefully doubling down on the controversial changes. He told his audience that Instagram would “continue to promote photographs,” but made sure to reiterate that: “over time, more and more of Instagram will become video.”

The reaction to this? Similar to this brilliant slack from a client:

What does this mean for brands?

It may seem like a lose-lose scenario, but fear not, here are some quick tips on how to ride this wave for social success:

Push for authenticity 🔥

Audiences are sick of their feeds appearing manufactured, ad-centric and controlled by the algorithm. Now, more than ever, producing authentic and engaging content is key. Show a little humanness with friendly faces or relatability. Gone are the days of a polished Instagram (whether that be in video or static format), so act like the best friend and not like the big brand.

Use (real) reel content 📹

Look, video isn’t going anywhere. So, it’s a perfect time to experiment with reel content and see what sticks. The likelihood is your reach will Skyrocket. Again, just keep it as authentic as possible.

Keep in mind what people want 🪧

Maybe it’s wouldn’t be a bad idea to play around with statics and see if you can hit the sweet spot of engagement: people are hungry for the return of pictures. Yes, your reach might drop, due to the ever-changing algorithm, but your audience will appreciate a feed made up of a variety of content. Don’t be a one-trick pony: have a content plan based on statics, Carousels, Reels AND Stories.

Virality is still a thing 🦠

It’s kind of crude, but the mass spreading of this post shows us that ‘things’ can still go viral. Don’t give up hope! Here is our go-to guide for all things viral.

Play it by ear 👂

Things are changing every day. New trends rise, and old social media sites fall. Algorithms change, but sometimes the users do not. A great social media presence requires A LOT of social listening, reading and knowledge. Keep up to date on everything social.

Or, what if we told you that there is a dream team of social media experts waiting to help you out with this confusing digital landscape? Experts in the algorithm AND the everyday user. We are here to help. Spin is an award-winning pure-play social media agency that combines the sharpest creative minds with the smartest performance specialists.

For more information or to enquire about scaling your brand through social please email

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