Has TikTok tapped your phone?

This week David Szanto of Orchard’s Experience Team looks at the method for TikTok’s content recommendations and addresses any conspiracy theories.

If you are an avid user of TikTok you have definitely been served an eerily-specific video that is way too relevant to your personal interests, experiences, or opinions.

(If you haven’t downloaded TikTok yet, maybe now is a good opportunity to explore the app while Australia is amidst an indefinite lockdown.)

So this begs the question: is TikTok listening to your conversations and reading your text messages?

No, thankfully TikTok cannot access that level of your personal data. Instead, it appears that ByteDance, the creator of TikTok, has developed an intricate user-engagement-based algorithm that errs on the side of telepathy.

You are probably familiar with the predictive algorithm recommendations of Netflix and Spotify, which feed on user behaviour to provide suggestions. These algorithms, although initially amusing and now monotonous, aren’t as fear-inducing in comparison due to TikTok’s data collection and content serving capabilities.

Algorithm-built recommendations are created via analysis of user behaviours, and larger data sets benefit algorithm accuracy as more data allows for more testing and learning.

TikTok showcases short user-generated videos that are 16 seconds duration on average and can be maximum of 1 minute. Spotify and Netflix’s catalogues have longer content in the form of songs, tv shows, and movies. This means that in a single session a TikTok user will interact with a much greater volume of content, with potentially more diverse themes and topics.

Therefore the TikTok algorithm can very quickly learn who you are based on your interests and preferences, allowing the platform to serve you niche videos that resonate with you to a bone chilling degree.

So you don’t need to get a new phone, but what now?

If you work for any business with a digital presence, TikTok has provided a golden example of how a successful personalisation program can promote a digital business goal (retaining user attention).

Orchard facilitates personalisation programs for clients, utilising the data captured via digital assets such as websites to tailor customer experiences. Through personalisation, we have enhanced customer prospecting tactics and improved customer retention for our clients.

If you have any questions or would like to explore how a personalisation program could benefit your business, please reach out to the Orchard Experience Team.

A creative and technology business based in Sydney & New York. Blending creative & technology to invent better outcomes that make a difference.

A creative and technology business based in Sydney & New York. Blending creative & technology to invent better outcomes that make a difference.