TikTok is a relatively new video-sharing app, and due to its popularity, many businesses and influencers are trying to game (or outsmart) the TikTok algorithm to maximize their reach on this app.
This trendy mobile app was launched in 2017 and is an app for sharing and consuming short, bite-sized video content. The videos shared on TikTok are generally only 3 to 15 seconds long. YouTube and Instagram, on the other hand, allow longer videos to be shared.
However, users are loving the short and easy-to-consume videos available on TikTok.
TikTok started out as Musical.ly, an app that mostly featured youth lip-syncing to their favourite songs. Now, the video content on TikTok is much more diverse.
TikTok was originally created and popularized in the China market, but the app has now been downloaded over 1.5 billion times worldwide.
Up-to-Date TikTok Stats
To date, the TikTok app has over 123 million downloads in the United States alone, and over 800 million monthly active users globally. The majority of users are located in Asia.
According to Wallaroo Media’s January 2020 report, The average user opens TikTok 8 times per day, and 60% of TikTok’s users are Gen Zers. Next year, 74 million people in the United States will be part of “Gen Z”. This will make Gen Z the largest generation of all.
Gen Zers love the endless stream of short and fun videos personalized for them based on the TikTok algorithm. The TikTok algorithm shows users videos based on what they have previously liked, watched, and shared.
Whether users want to share videos or just enjoy them, the app has every type of video to offer. From comedic lip-syncing videos and funny pet videos to sports videos, makeup tutorials and career advice videos, the options of content are endless.
TikTok shares many similarities to both Instagram and YouTube in terms of consumable video content, building brand recognition, content strategy and video marketing.
According to the Business Insider Intelligence Social Video Report, social video advertising is expected to grow exponentially in coming years. Social video ad spend is expected to reach $25.6 billion by 2023, up 128% from $11.2 billion in 2018.
The report also states that TikTok’s rapid growth has proven that there’s space in the landscape for short-form social video content.
The growth in popularity of TikTok motivates brands, businesses and influencers to try to game the TikTok algorithm to increase their brand visibility.
What Exactly Does It Mean If You’re Gaming the TikTok Algorithm?
What exactly does ‘gaming the algorithm’ mean? This term refers to users (typically of social media platforms) outsmarting the algorithm. This means behaving in a strategic manner to create a new algorithmic self.
To succeed at gaming the TikTok algorithm, you’d first have to decide how you think the TikTok algorithm operates and become familiar with it.
The expression ‘gaming the algorithm’ stems from algorithmic game theory. According to Wikipedia, algorithmic game theory is “the intersection of game theory and computer science, with the objective of understanding and design of algorithms in strategic environments.”
Algorithms are based on user behaviors and the TikTok algorithm, for example, makes predictions based on users’ past behaviors. Social media algorithms are based on what you liked, what you clicked on, what you watched, etc.
Algorithms are Not Always Very Smart
Many social media users get frustrated with algorithms. Why? Because they probably changed their minds about what they liked. However, the algorithm is still making predictions based off their past behavior on the app.
In other words, algorithms often make a lot of incorrect predictions about what the human user actually feels, wants and likes.
Any influencer or brand that is successful at gaming the TikTok algorithm will probably notice a boost in their visibility and engagement on the app.
Similarly, those same influencers or brands could also game the Instagram algorithm or the YouTube algorithm.
When the Instagram app, for example, made some changes to its algorithm, what happened? Many brands and influencers noticed a disappointing drop in their user engagement. This caused sales to drop for many businesses.
The drop encouraged many brands and influencers to try to game the Instagram algorithm.
The motivation for gaming the algorithm is clear: More engagement and more followers on social media results in more sales and more revenue.
There is, however, a better way to increase your social media following in the highest-converting manner. I’ll explain this in more detail later. First, should you be using TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube?
The Pros of Using Instagram and YouTube to Advertise Your Brand, Instead of TikTok
Although TikTok is growing in popularity, don’t throw all of your eggs into the TikTok basket or try to game the TikTok algorithm just yet.
Video marketing is huge right now, but it’s important to be strategic when it comes to which social media platform you’ll spend the bulk of your ad spend on.
If you are a business, brand, or influencer looking to advertise your product or service via video content, you may be better off focusing on Instagram and YouTube. Why? For several reasons.
First of all, TikTok isn’t yet as big as Instagram or YouTube in terms of monthly active users. Tiktok has an estimated 800 million monthly active users, the majority of which are in India and China.
However, Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users, and YouTube has 2 billion monthly active users.
Second of all, although TikTok provides a unique marketing opportunity due to its popularity with Gen Z, perhaps Gen Z is not your target audience.
In other words, you shouldn’t focus on advertising via TikTok unless your target demographic is Gen Z, which is anyone between the ages of 18 and 24. If your target demographic is older than age 24, you probably want to market your videos elsewhere. You probably want to market your videos to Gen Y (millennials) and Gen X.
Instagram and YouTube have a higher userbase of millennials and Gen Xers than TikTok does.
Although I could go on with several more pros of using Instagram and YouTube to grow your business over TikTok, I’ll leave you with one more reason for now. Instagram and YouTube allow longer content, and longer content helps you educate your prospects more. This often results in a higher chance of converting the viewer into a customer.
Building Brand Recognition on Instagram, YouTube and TikTok
Building brand recognition on TikTok can be achieved due to TikTok’s popularity. This is why many brands, businesses and influencers are using TikTok in addition to Instagram and YouTube.
Let’s not knock TikTok’s short video content. Many brands can effectively promote themselves within 15 seconds, depending on how complex your offer is.
Shorter content often means higher engagement, as a user is more likely to watch a short video to the end. Plus, when a video is uploaded to TikTok, the TikTok algorithm shows it to users who are less likely to get bored with your content, and more likely to engage with it.
In general, video marketing is a fantastic way to build brand recognition, which is why many brands are using all three social platforms.
Video marketing allows you to showcase your brand’s personality and videos are a great way of evoking emotions in your audience. Everyone knows that triggering emotion leads to sales. This is why an emotional selling proposition is so often used in marketing campaigns.
Videos tend to have a greater impact than other types of content, and they’re also more memorable.
Instagram stories are a great way to promote your product or service through video content, and if you have a large following on Instagram, your brand’s daily Instagram stories will get thousands of views.
Brand recognition is all about visibility. YouTube is great for brand visibility because YouTube is owned by Google. That means YouTube videos are naturally ranked higher by Google than other forms of video content. Your YouTube video marketing efforts will therefore have a higher chance of succeeding.
Why The Majority of Your Marketing Spend Should Be Allocated to Social Media Marketing
In general, social media marketing as a whole – not just video marketing – is the best way to generate qualified leads for your business.
Effective social media marketing is a great way to increase sales and generate higher revenue for your business, while also building brand recognition and improving brand image along the way.
This is why the majority of your marketing spend should be allocated to social media marketing efforts.
Social media is a great way to gain marketplace insights, engage with your target demographic, improve brand image and promote your product or service.
The problem is, you need to attract a social media following in order to maximize your social media marketing strategy. Attracting a following isn’t always easy.
Can Familiarity With the Algorithm Increase Your Social Media Following?
It’s true that familiarity with a social media app’s algorithm can increase visibility, engagement and following.
Your familiarity with and gaming of the TikTok algorithm, for example, could be one of the factors that leads to your shared video content on TikTok going viral.
Similarly, the invention of engagement pods on Instagram stemmed from someone’s familiarity of the Instagram algorithm. An engagement pod is a group of Instagram users that band together with an agreement.
Wondering what the agreement typically is? Well, an Instagram engagement pod’s agreement is to regularly engage on each other’s Instagram content. They do this by liking and commenting on each other’s posts.
The Instagram algorithm prioritizes content from accounts that have high engagement (a high number of likes and comments). This means that forming an engagement pod is a way of gaming the Instagram algorithm.
However, as I mentioned earlier in this article, there’s a better way to increase your following than gaming algorithms.
And, since most of you probably care the most about increasing your Instagram and YouTube following, I’m going to focus on that.
Do You Want to Learn How To Grow and Monetize Your Instagram and YouTube Platforms?
There are countless benefits of increasing your Instagram and YouTube following and increasing Instagram and YouTube engagement. These benefits include increased social proof, better brand recognition, better lead generation and increased sales.
Many businesses, brands and influencers ask me for advice on growing their Instagram and YouTube channels. This is probably because I grew my Instagram following to over 1.5 million followers, and my YouTube channel has amassed over 2.3 million subscribers.
These numbers are steadily growing and every day I see an increase. This is because I am a master at growing YouTube and Instagram.
Knowing how to grow your following the right way is one thing. Knowing how to monetize your Instagram and YouTube platforms once you have a strong following, is a whole other mission.
Since so many people have asked me for advice on both growing and monetizing their Instagram and YouTube platforms, I thought I would take the time to help.
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