TikTok Tricks For You feed

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TikTok Tricks: Understanding the ‘For You’ page and how it works

Part of the magic of TikTok is that there’s no one For You feed – while different people may come upon some of the same standout videos, each person’s feed is unique and tailored to that specific individual.

TikTok Tricks For You feed

Image via Adobe Stock

TikTok recently released a guide explaining how recommendations are delivered to the For You feed. As any avid TikTok user knows, the For You page is central to the online experience; it’s where most users spend their time. 

TikTok’s ‘For You’ Page: What you need to know

What is TikTok’s For You feed?

The beauty of the For You feed is that it “enables that connection and discovery”. It’s the section of TikTok where most of the users spend their time. And all the videos you see there will be curated specifically for you.

There are no two For You pages that look alike; it’s completely unique to you and is tailored to specific users’ likes and taste. But how does it know what you like and what you don’t like? Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, baby!

According to the guide, the For You feed “is powered by a recommendation system that delivers content to each user that is likely to be of interest to that particular user”. Let’s unpack TikTok’s recommendation system.

The basics about recommendation systems

The guide explains that the “recommendation systems are all around us”.

It powers many of the services we use on a daily basis: from shopping to streaming to search engines, these systems are “designed to help people have a more personalised experience”.

But how does that translate to the For You page? Well, that recommendation system suggests content for your feed by ranking videos based on one combination of factors centred around the interests you express.

That’s why most sites, including Tik Tok, will ask you to choose your interests when you sign up. Recommendations are based on a number of factors, including things such as:

  • User interactions such as the videos you like or share, accounts you follow, comments you post, and content you create.
  • Video information, which might include details like captions, sounds, and hashtags.
  • Device and account settings such as your language preference, country setting, and device type.

How videos are ranked

These factors are included to make sure the system is optimised for performance; however, they receive lower weight in the recommendation system relative to other data points since users don’t actively express those as preferences.

The TikTok guide also explains that the recommendation system notes whether “a user finishes watching a longer video from beginning to end”, or whether you move on to another video before finishing the previous video.

Those videos — the ones you watch all the way through — would receive greater weight than a weak indicator. Weak indicators could include whether the video’s viewer and creator are both in the same country.

“Videos are then ranked to determine the likelihood of a user’s interest in a piece of content, and delivered to each unique For You feed. While a video is likely to receive more views if posted by an account that has more followers, by virtue of that account having built up a larger follower base, neither follower count nor whether the account has had previous high-performing videos are direct factors in the recommendation system”.

In the next part of this series, we’ll discuss how to curate your personalised TikTok For You feed.

Also read — Five easy ways for parents to simplify TikTok safety