EXPLAINED: How To Hack The TikTok Algorithm And Go Viral

You have to understand the algorithm to end up on the 'For You' page and go viral. Here's our 3 secrets for how to hack the TikTok algorithm.
Fanbytes | How to hack tiktok algorithm

In 30 seconds:

  • How do you crack the TikTok algorithm to get more likes? We’ve got a few insider TikTok viral hacks for you to try.
  • These are a no-no. We’ve listed the top 3 TikTok algorithm mistakes brands make and how you can avoid them.
  • Want to know a bonus TikTok algorithm trick? You’ve come to the right place.

Wondering how to hack the TikTok algorithm? We’ve got insider knowledge. 

Here at Fanbytes, our job is to keep an eye on what kind of content skyrockets on TikTok and, most importantly, understand why that is. These insights always start with digging deep into TikTok’s algorithm. It’s usually a brand’s neglect of playing up to the TikTok algorithm that leaves them in the undesirable bottom spot.

We’re not just going to tell you how to hack the TikTok algorithm. We’re going to also tell you what to avoid, so you always get it right. 

But WAIT. Before we get into it, it’s essential to understand the TikTok Algorithm. That’s why we wrote a whole article on it: Understanding The TikTok Algorithm (2022): How it Works & How to Use it. It’s the latest up-to-date info on how the algorithm works, so you understand why your content is going to sink or swim.

We’ve discovered many things through researching TikTok algorithm hacks, and lucky for you, we want to give you the inside scoop.

TikTok algorithm hacks: why should you care?

TikTok doesn’t just have the users (1 billion of them, to be exact); it also has the traffic. It recently overtook Google as the most used web domain. It presents a golden opportunity for all brands to get in front of a large, willing audience. Especially Gen Z.

Gen Z has a spending power of $143 billion, and 60% of TikTokers are zoomers. Getting them to view your content and listen is the tricky part. That’s where you have to play by the rules and follow some TikTok algorithm hacks to grow. 

We’ve seen a lot of brands getting it wrong when trying to grow on TikTok. That’s a huge missed opportunity. TikTok gains 8 new users every second and is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms of all time. So get ready for some myth-busting, error highlighting info on the top mistakes brands make when trying to hack the TikTok algorithm and how you can avoid them.

Once you can tap into this, you’ll unlock one of the most powerful audiences.

Is the TikTok algorithm based on luck?

Short answer: no. There are usually a few key reasons why a video on your TikTok video isn’t doing as well as you’d hoped. It’s not necessarily because you’re unlucky or because the users don’t like you; it’s usually because you are not creating content that fits into the TikTok algorithm

There are several ways the algorithm determines what to show on people’s For You Pages (FYPs). These include elements like completion rates, engagement and the number of likes a video has. 

Our info-packed article on understanding the TikTok Algorithm is a gateway into the inner workings of its filters. Take a look to find out more.

The top 3 TikTok algorithm hacks

Before we let loose on the major mistakes we’ve seen, here are a few TikTok viral hacks that you might not have thought about to get your content raking in those views. 

TikTok 3-second rule | How to hack tiktok algorithm

Hack #1: The 3-second rule

When you post a video on TikTok, the algorithm works by boosting the content onto the ‘For You’ page for a very short amount of time. This is so the algorithm can determine how relevant the content is to the audience and if people really want to watch and share it. 

The key metric that the algorithm is recording here is the watch time and completion rate. If most of the audience is only watching a few seconds of your 30-second video and not all the way through, the algorithm will flag your video as being unengaging and irrelevant to the audience. Because of this, your video will get ‘lost’ – the algorithm will prioritise videos with higher watch times and completion rates, so no one will see your video.

A helpful rule to remember here is that you have to captivate your audience within the first 3 seconds. If people are watching most of your video and the completion rate is super high, you’re onto a winner and the algorithm will reward your content by continuously boosting your post. It will create a sort of ‘snowball’ effect and be shown to more people so you’re well on your way to viral status. 

Fanbytes | Be quick on trends | how to trick tiktok algorithm

Hack #2: Be quick on trends

Trends are the glue that holds TikTok together, through all kinds of content styles and subjects – not just dance, comedy and music, but all trending video styles that your audience will be interested to see, regardless of your brand or industry. 

Trends on TikTok aren’t just the whims of its users – although they are led by their interests. They are an expression of TikTok’s algorithm at play. Styles of video and conversations within different content communities get picked up by the TikTok algorithm and grow exponentially. If you want to grow your reach, a hugely powerful way to do so is by riding that wave.

It’s also important for brands to jump on relevant trends to appear relevant to their target demographic and boost brand sentiment. Look for trending sounds (trending songs or trending audio) and trending hashtags on the discover page and assess the type of content you see. This should inspire your own video content.

TikTok moves at an extremely fast pace, meaning that new trends are surfacing every single day. It’s vital that brands are swift to capitalise on relevant trends: the design of TikTok’s interface means users who are interested in a trend can easily see its originator and “poster-boys”. This means that the best time to post is as soon as you can. If you can become that “poster boy” as the trend is gaining traction, you’ll be exposed to huge numbers of interested people. If you join too late, you’ll get lost in the noise.

TikTok trends are our speciality. If you’d like a weekly update on the latest TikTok trends and how your brand can use them, sign up to our newsletter.

Fanbytes | Engage with others

Hack #3 Engage with others

TikTok’s algorithm prioritises engagement. This is what the watch time and completion rate is measuring – but there are more forms of engagement that you should consider: liking and commenting on videos chiefly amongst them. As we explained in our article on how to grow your TikTok followers, TikTok wants its users to be active on the platform, so engaging with others is a great Tiktok viral hack that will help your own Engagement Rate (ER) increase.

Find other similar niches through hashtags and keywords through TikTok’s search function. Like and comment on these videos and spend some time engaging with different TikTok creators. This will prep your account for success. 

Part of the reason this hack works is because of the personalised nature of the TikTok algorithm. It not only adapts to show users videos they’ll like, but also showcases their own videos to a similar audience. By commenting and liking other videos in your niche, you indicate to TikTok who should see your own videos – helping you reach your target audience

This hack also works because TikTok is a sociable space.  77% of users say they read the comments on the posts and videos on TikTok. Commenting makes you visible, but it also allows you to form a stronger relationship with your audience. You may even find other accounts reciprocating by commenting on your videos – user interactions that also boost your ER. So, be friendly!

Are you making these 3 mistakes?

When looking at how to hack the TikTok algorithm, we’ve seen a lot of errors. From people buying followers (trust us, this is a big no-no) to just plain overselling, there are many pitfalls brands can stumble into if they don’t understand how the TikTok algorithm works

Here are our top 3 mistakes we’ve seen when TikTok users try TikTok algorithm hacks.

Fanbytes | Shadowban | TikTok viral hack mistakes

Mistake #1: Getting 'shadowbanned'

This isn’t the most common mistake of the three, but it is the most frustrating and will tremendously affect your performance on the app. Shadow-banning means that TikTok has minimised the reach for your posts and stopped pushing your content out to audiences. 

How does this happen? When TikTok identifies an account as either being spam or exhibiting ‘spammy’ behaviours, it will stop sharing it. This can occur if:

  • You delete many posts in one go
  • You like and follow a lot of people in one go
  • You use copyrighted content/ songs
  • You use banned hashtags

How do I get unshadow banned? If you think you might have been shadowbanned on TikTok (your content isn’t showing up when searched), you can do a few things to
hack the TikTok algorithm and get your account growing again.


  1. Uninstall and reinstall the app – this can sometimes refresh your account and help with the situation
  2. Delete any offensive content – this may be what has got you shadowbanned in the first place, so make sure anything untoward is taken off your account.
  3. Wait – often, accounts are shadowbanned for around 2 weeks. Once you’ve made sure your account is clean, wait. This should give the algorithm enough time to ascertain whether you are spam or not. With a bit of luck, you’ll be getting your content on people’s FYPs in no time. 

Remember, posting original, quality content that fits into TikTok’s community guidelines will ensure you don’t have this problem. So start as you mean to go on.

Fanbytes | Tiktok algorithm caption and video information

Mistake #2: your video information isn’t optimised

TikTok has great SEO. Tiktokers don’t just use hashtags to find relevant content – they’ll use free text search because the TikTok algorithm can pick up a surprising amount of detail about each TikTok video.

Don’t neglect your TikTok caption. You should always write an engaging caption: the character limit is 300, but you should try to aim for lower than this.

What about your TikTok video itself? You can add text in your videos, too – and we have found this is a great way to get more exciting information out there. On TikTok, it’s easy to pause videos, and many TikTok creators will ask viewers to pause the screen to read the text if it’s important. While it’s important not to overdo it, this proves that TikTokers aren’t reading more information on videos. And the best thing about this? This also helps you get discovered via TikTok’s SEO.

You may have noticed that sometimes TikTokers misspell swear words in their videos. This is because the tiktok algorithm picks up this text too. So – think carefully about the text you include.

Fanbytes Senior Campaign Manager Jacqui Smith says “it’s important to not include too much text, or it can be overwhelming. But it can be really useful. One important thing to consider is text colour: make sure it’s a contrasting colour so it’s easy to see and read.”

If you hack the TikTok SEO, you’ll be more easily found on the Discover page by your ideal users.

Fanbytes | Faking it

Mistake #3: You’re faking it

Many brands and creators are tempted to buy TikTok followers as ‘social proof’ to kick off their accounts with a higher follower count. This is a terrible idea. We explain exactly why in our article, Read this before you buy TikTok followers. But in short: faking followers is a fast way to tell the TikTok algorithm that your videos are not work boosting. 

It’s also important to be original. Don’t become a carbon copy of someone else’s TikTok account: in the best-case scenario where you do well at this, your videos will be shown to a very similar audience by the TikTok algorithm. Before long, someone will identify you as a copycat. This is no good for your brand sentiment, and could undo all your hard work as people unfollow you in droves. Take inspiration from others, sure, but always be original.

Finally? Don’t spam. Comments are good, but faking engagement with generic comments like “great video” or “wow” will annoy anyone who sees it. Even worse, accounts that copy and paste messages asking for more followers will come across as spammy and desperate. If that’s you, stop it now. Instead, be real: this is the best way to foster real engagement, and trigger the TikTok algorithm to help you grow.

Fanbytes | TikTok viral hacking tricks - mistakes

Bonus: Embrace the full platform

This is a mistake we see everywhere on TikTok – but the most successful brands and TikTok content creators never forget this step: don’t just reply to the comments on your own videos: be an extrovert, and start conversations outside of your little corner.

In our third hack, we mentioned liking and commenting on others’ videos to help tell the TikTok algorithm more about your interests, which in turn can trigger the recommendation system to showcase your video to similar audiences. This is a perfect way to start carving your place in your TikTok niche, and boost brand sentiment amongst a core community.

Once you’ve built a strong community around your TikTok, you can start to branch out – and that means the way you engage with other TikTok accounts, too. Experiment with TikTok duets or TikTok stitch. Build a rapport with influencers in your niche, but don’t be afraid to look outside of it, too: sometimes unusual collaborations can drive higher engagement rates, as people are hooked by the surprise. Consider Gucci’s collaboration with trainspotter TikTok influencer Francis Bourgeois (@francis.bourgeois), for example. 

Francis Bourgeois is incredibly popular on TikTok, even amongst millions of people who don’t share his love of trains – and that brings us to our next point: once you’ve built a strong core community, don’t be afraid to comment on trending videos and accounts you see, regardless of their niche. It boosts your visibility and captures that crucial element of surprise – and you’ll win more fans form a larger audience. Just make sure you are also balancing this with a healthy amount of engagement with your core community.

There’s one last TikTok cheat

Okay, cheat isn’t really the right word. Why? It’s practically impossible to cheat TikTok. You wouldn’t want to either because TikTok wants you to thrive on the platform. Hacking the TikTok algorithm is all about working in sync with it, not against it. 

The best way to do that? Consistent, high-quality creative content that’s aimed at entertainment. 31% of TikTok users included “lifting my spirits” as one of the top three reasons for returning to the TikTok platform. So if you want to know how to really hack the algorithm and create viral video after viral video, spark joy, be entertaining and most importantly, be authentic. 

Wondering how you can create joyful marketing campaigns that make a killer ROI? Get in touch to find out how we can get your brand in the hearts of Gen Z. Alternatively – hand us the reins entirely. We’ve handled account growth for the likes of Nasty Gal, Opera GX, Superdrug, Paula’s Choice, Creamfields and many more. 

Need more info on TikTok? We’re experts, but don’t take our word for it. Check out our fact-fueled articles and tutorials below:

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