The For You Page is also the feature that launched a thousand social media coaches, a million creator headaches, and at least a few government investigations and efforts to ban the app. Now, TikTok is making efforts to better explain the mysterious feature whose algorithm helped catapult careers for seemingly completely random reasons.
What Makes The For You Page So Unique
TikTok's allure is that anybody can go "viral" at any time for just about any reason. This is largely due to the For You Page, the default page that displays when you open the app. Here, you'll see a mix of all kinds of content — with a heavy emphasis on trending and popular videos. The For You Page is, in short, the reason TikTok surpassed YouTube when it comes to how long users spend watching videos.
Because a user doesn't need to have a following to end up on the For You Page, TikTok stars came about with relative ease in the early days. It was the fastest way to social media virality since Twitter, but with the much more engaging medium of short-form video leading the way versus Twitter's text-first approach.
The thing that attracted so many creators to TikTok, however, also quickly became the ire of many of its biggest users. While the For You Page often helps balloon profiles, it also takes precedence over other content, including content from people a user follows. Everybody's For You Page content is different — to an extent. But the primary focus is on trending content, not simply content the user may already be connected to.
TikTok has since introduced several new features aimed at keeping relevant content in front of interested users. But the For You Page is still where the exposure happens, and you'll find no shortage of creators constantly trying to "game" their content to hit the page.
How TikTok Is Addressing For You Page Questions
In a post from December 20, 2022, TikTok announced its first major steps in helping users understand how the For You Page works. How, exactly? By introducing a new feature in the app over the coming weeks where you can see specifically why a piece of content on your For You Page hit your eyeballs.
"Our system recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors based on your activity on our app, which includes adjusting for things you indicate you're not interested in," TikTok says in the announcement. "Our goal is to serve a range of relevant and entertaining content. To help people understand why a particular video has been recommended to them, we're rolling out a new tool over the coming weeks."
In order to see why you're seeing a video from somebody you've never heard of or don't follow, you need to click the "share button" on the bottom right. From there, you'll see a button right in the middle of the bottom bar that says "Why This Video?" Clicking on it will, according to TikTok, give you personalized answers about why you're seeing this content.
Of course this new feature doesn't necessarily help creators better understand how to get their content on the For You Page. The best recommendations are usually to be authentic and be consistent. Beyond that, you're likely to drive yourself crazy trying to make your content strategy all about #FYP. (Check out these excellent words from a social media coach instead).
But one of the biggest reasons TikTok is trying to be more transparent about the For You Page is the increased pressure the company faces from government, health professionals, and individuals alike. Given the app's core demo skews younger, early concerns about impressionable minds consistently seeing harmful, negative, violent, sexual, or political content has led to a lot of discussion around the role society should take in policing social media platforms.
TikTok has already clamped down on what type of content makes it to the For You Page. Anything depicting overt sexuality, alcohol, or potentially risky behavior, for instance, almost never makes it to the FYP on the app. It's a stark contrast from the early days of the TikTok where being provocative was one of the fastest ways to gain an audience — and something the company will no doubt continue to modify.
As both content creators and consumers, much of this feels beyond our control. But the one thing you can control is your own consumption and output. Create content that makes you happy and is likely to resonate with your audience and you'll have a more fulfilling experience on TikTok no matter how many times the platform changes.