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How to Troubleshoot Your Content Using TikTok Metrics

How to Troubleshoot Your Content Using TikTok Metrics

Ah, TikTok. The enigmatic, mysterious youngster of social media platforms. The belief that TikTok is a wild west of unknowable outcomes is easy to succumb to—there are many creators who complain videos they spent hours creating perform pitifully while poor-quality, arbitrary content inexplicably goes viral.

I hear you. It’s frustrating. But I’m here to tell you that TikTok isn’t actually too difficult to master. With a basic understanding of success metrics, a solid content strategy, and consistency, anyone can be successful on TikTok. Yes, anyone.  

It’s actually one of the easiest platforms to experience success with—it’s all about understanding how to curate your content in accordance with TikTok’s success metrics.

In this article, I’m going to explain how you can develop an understanding of TikTok success metrics so you can create content that appeals to the algorithm and reaches your target audience.

Algorithmic Success Metrics for TikTok

On TikTok, there is a symbiotic relationship between the videos that perform well with viewers and the videos that perform well with the algorithm. 

The platform grades the quality of a video based on how users interact with it. If the video meets engagement criteria, the algorithm will push the video to the feeds of similar or related user demographics.

The main engagement metrics TikTok uses for gaging whether or not to promote a video are:

  • Watch time
  • Shares
  • Comments
  • Likes

In theory, a view that has a long watch time, many shares, comments, and likes will go viral. Every. Single. Time.

And if you can consistently produce content that goes viral, you’ll have no problem growing an audience of users that engage with your content.

So, the key to success on TikTok is posting consistently engaging content. While that may be easier said than done, the best way to learn how to do this is by troubleshooting with your own content’s analytics.

Let’s discuss how to do that. 

Accessing TikTok Analytics

First, you’ll have to access analytics on your posts and profile. To do this, head to your profile tab and tap the menu option in the very top right corner of the screen. There, click “Creator Tools” and then “Analytics”. This will take you to an overview of your profile analytics. 

You can also view analytics on individual videos by viewing the video and clicking “More Data” in the lower right corner of the video. 

TikTok analytics will provide you with insight into:

  • Video retention rate
  • Average watch time 
  • Traffic sources
  • Viewership demographic information
  • Profile views
  • Video views
  • Likes, comments, and shares
  • Follower growth rate
  • Follower demographic information
  • Follower activity information

Depending on your goals, these analytics can empower you with insights that can improve your content and increase your chances of success.

Measuring and Increasing TikTok Watch Time

It is generally understood that watch time is the primary metric by which the TikTok algorithm grades success. This is because TikTok’s main goal is to keep users on the platform for as long as possible. They can only achieve this with interesting content that holds a viewer’s attention.

If you’ve noticed your viewer retention metrics need some work, here are some strategies for increasing TikTok watch time:

  • Open with a hook
  • Cut filler and unnecessary sections
  • Create a compelling narrative
  • Begin with a CTA (watch until the end for…)
  • Follow best practices

If you’ve already mastered the art of viewer retention, you will have no problem fine-tuning your approach to reach a larger audience. 

TikTok Shares

TikTok values video shares for the same reason it values watch time: because it increases the length of time users spend on the app. 

It’s a good habit to add a CTA encouraging viewers to share your video, but there are more effective ways to improve share numbers. 

Here are a few strategies to try out:

  • Include a “relatable content” category in your strategy: Content that is relatable gets more shares. Often, this kind of content borrows from observational comedy by calling out niche-specific behaviors or actions that others are likely to have noticed as well.
  • Make videos that address relationships: Videos that target relationships are the easiest way to improve share numbers. Consider which relationships make sense for your brand and highlight them. Videos about friendships, spouses, or parents are more likely to be shared in group chats and viewed by multiple relevant people. 
  • Make videos that offer unique, valuable, and niche-specific information: Start a conversation, share a little-known fact, or create a 30-second guide. People are more likely to share valuable information.

In general, users do not share overtly or even subtly promotional content. For this reason, it’s a good idea to make promotional content only one of various content pillars.   

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Understanding TikTok Comments and Likes

On TikTok, comments and likes are the easiest metrics to understand and achieve. Typically, the bulk of comments will come from users who are already familiar with your content and consider themselves a part of your community. 

The exception to this is videos that are controversial or videos that have gone viral.

To gain more comments and likes on a video, it’s important to understand your audience. Look back on videos that earned a good like-to-watch ratio. This is important in the beginning because more likes don’t necessarily equate to better content.

A great example of this was the 7-second video trend that happened earlier this year. A number of users claimed they had hacked the TikTok algorithm with seven-second videos featuring large blocks of on-screen text that took longer than seven seconds to read. 

These videos took advantage of the algorithm’s preference for watch time as a metric, as they tricked the viewer into watching the entire video. The problem was that these videos offered absolutely no value to the audience they reached. As a result, very few users who posted them gained anything valuable from their videos going viral. They may have had a high number of likes, but when compared to the number of views, the ratio indicated a general dissatisfaction with the post.

So, when consulting analytics to gain a better understanding of how to better serve your audience, look to videos where the highest percentage of viewers liked and commented. Regardless of how many views it has, this is most likely your best content. 

Here are some reasons why a video might have low views but a high percentage of likes and comments:

  • Low watch time: The video may not have done a great job of hooking and retaining the audience’s attention.
  • Poor strategy: Posting at the wrong time, using the wrong hashtags, and not employing a good engagement strategy can all impact a video’s performance. 
  • Compliance flags: TikTok routinely flags videos the algorithm believes violate guidelines in some way. If a video is flagged, it will not show up on the For You Feed.

Use analytics to determine which of the above could be the reason for low views on an otherwise well-performing video. 

A high percentage of likes indicates that those who did watch the whole video enjoyed it, so this is typically a good sign to focus on improving your hook. 

But, if the video had a good average watch time, and all the views came from the “Friends” or “Following” tab, it’s likely a strategy or regulation violation issue. 

Measuring Follower Growth

Contrary to what some gurus may say on the platform, there is no shortcut to growing your audience on TikTok. Followers will come if a creator is posting valuable, engaging content consistently.

If you’re not growing as fast as you’d like to, here are some strategies to try:

  • Narrow your focus: If you’re trying to gain a specific audience, it should go without saying that you should never post a video that isn’t targeting them. Make sure all your videos target the same niche of viewers so the algorithm sends each video to the right audience and gives each post its best chance at success.
  • Post more frequently: If you’re posting a few videos a week and they are all performing well, it may be a good idea to increase the volume of your content. So long as this doesn’t result in lower quality videos, this is a great way to expedite growth.
  • Include a CTA: At the end of each video, tell the viewer why they should follow you. Something as simple as, “If you liked this video, follow me for social media tips every morning.” Chances are, if a viewer watched your video to the end, they enjoyed the content. A simple nudge could make the difference between them scrolling past and hitting the follow button.

Achieve Social Media Success by Understanding Metrics and Analytics

A part of what makes TikTok such an easy platform to master is its clearly defined guidelines and best practices. Once a content creator begins to understand how these metrics can be leveraged to improve their content, they are one step closer to reaching success on the fastest-growing social media platform in the world.

At Hire a Writer, we specialize in all things digital marketing. To read more on content marketing, subscribe to the Hire a Writer blog.


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