Creating social content is challenging enough; keeping up with each channel’s ever-changing algorithms is another beast that’s altogether harder to tame.
But doing so is essential to your success on social. You can put money and time behind an impressive content strategy and still be foiled if you don’t keep up with the changes on the other side, especially in the algorithm that rules TikTok.
As a social media content creator for Interrupt and other brands, I’ve learned that a mix of proactive and reactive are the best way to approach your social strategy on TikTok, especially given that the algorithms can change without warning. Here’s how I break it down.
When it comes to creating content for your brand, it’s important to know what you’re trying to communicate and who you’re trying to communicate to. Do you want to show your services? Your products? Personality? Whatever it is, be intentional about it. That’s step one.
People don’t talk about the importance of the algorithm enough in their internal planning sessions. Algorithms are constantly changing, so it’s important to keep an eye on when those changes are happening by keeping an eye on any major, unexplainable shifts in your analytics and by paying attention to tech coverage on media sites like TechCrunch. (Unfortunately, TikTok doesn’t formally announce when they tinker with their formula.) Because ultimately, algorithm changes should be playing a part in your strategy, which ideally would remain flexible enough to respond to these changes.
We’ve established the two sides of a healthy social media management approach on TikTok. It’s important to understand why a hybrid proactive/reactive approach works better than a purely proactive or entirely reactive one.
The ever-changing algo
The algorithm works in mysterious ways. You never quite know how a video, or piece of content, is going to perform. For example, TikTok’s recent changes have meant content creators who normally receive 20,000 views now get around 200—a major downturn. If this only happened to one video, creators understand; sometimes videos flop. But TikTok’s influencers are finding the impact is across the platform.
Why? Because on the TikTok of today, everything is connected. The way to understand the changes is that now, the two key pieces of your channel—your content and your feed—are intertwined in ways they weren’t before.
Here’s how to approach the TikTok of today.
Your content niche
When it comes to creating content, you want to define a niche (for example, as a branding agency, our little corner of TikTok would be creative, agency and business-minded content). Once you define that, it’s important to stay consistent within that niche. And after you've decided on the type of content, you need to carefully manage your feed, because it has implications for who sees your content and which niche you reach.
Before the recent changes, it was enough to focus your energy on the type of content you create and what niche it falls into. Now, you also need to pay attention to your feed. TikTok is currently taking into consideration the videos that you’re watching and broadcasting your content accordingly.
For example, let’s say I’m an artist. I create my content strategy, formulating my video posts around the audience I want and the message I’m trying to share with them. When I’m not posting, I watch fishing and lifestyle videos.
Because of my own viewing habits within TikTok, the app’s algorithm believes I must be a fishing and lifestyle creator. So the next time I post a video of me painting, the app will likely send my content to fishing and lifestyle creators, rather than art enthusiasts.
TikTok assumes because you’re posting content in a specific niche, that you should also be watching videos in that niche. And in order for your video to get sent out to more people, it needs to perform well with the audiences who first interact with it. Under TikTok’s current algorithm, if you’re watching videos from all sorts of various creators, the app isn’t going to know where to send your video, leaving your account out of your niche.
This is the algorithm in a nutshell: when you post a video on TikTok, it’s going to send that video to a handful of people, mostly your existing followers. If it performs well, then TikTok will send out the video to even more people. That next set of people are going to be people in your niche. This is where a lot of creators are encountering issues—the app isn’t always identifying the right niche.
And a video can’t go viral unless it reaches people well outside your followers, audience members who are interested in your niche and will appreciate seeing your content. That’s why it’s so important to get this right.
Although it’s impossible to get perfect-performing content every time, here are some recommendations to get your social media on track.
- Keep your personal social media separate from your business account.
- If you don’t have a personal account, make one. By having a personal account you can see what’s trending outside of your niche and find ways to bring it into your business content.
- Curate your feed to mimic the type of content you want to create. By watching videos you also want to create, TikTok will know where to send them.
- Pay attention to your niche’s posting habits. If creators in your niche post every day, then you should aim to post every day. If creators in your niche only post twice a week, but provide more well-formed content, then you should aim to do the same.
- If you see a video recreated more than three times for three days, it’s probably a trend. Create it. But only if it makes sense for your business.
Ultimately, the goal should be to keep at it with your content. Social media can be discouraging, especially when you’re following a strategy, keeping up with trends and still not seeing the results you’re reaching for.
Just try to remember keeping up with the algorithm is just as important as following your insights. Because more than likely, your content doesn’t suck, it’s just the algorithm.