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Cracking The TikTok Algorithm: Viral Video Editing Tips

tiktok viral video editing

In this age of social media, it’s all about going viral. And TikTok provides you with one of the easiest ways to do it. TikTok’s algorithm is designed to push the most popular videos to the most people. So if you can create a TikTok video the algorithm loves, then you can ride the wave and wake up to find you went viral overnight. 

Going viral is part science, part art, and a hefty dose of luck. If you want to improve your odds of catching the Tik Tok algorithm’s attention, you need to:

  • Understand how the algorithm works and how TikTok videos go viral
  • Learn TikTok viral video editing tips
  • Use the best editing tools for your style of content

What Makes A TikTok Go Viral

Most people consider a TikTok to be viral once it has over 500,000 views. Unless you already have a large following, it’s tough to get half a million people to watch your latest upload. The good news is, a small or brand-new channel can go viral almost as easily as a large one. Great news indeed, but how is that possible?

Anyone can go viral if they catch a ride on the algorithm. If the algorithm decides to boost your TikTok video, it will push it out and recommend it to other users on their For You Page (FYP). The algorithm doesn’t care how many followers you have. All it is looking for is quality content other users are enjoying. So, why is that? 

Start With Why: What TikTok Wants

The best way to answer is to start with what TikTok wants- and Tik Tok wants to make money. TikTok makes its money in two ways; advertising revenue and in-app coin purchases used to tip creators. 

Like all social apps, TikTok’s goal is to increase watch time. More screen time equals more ads watched and more coins purchased. So TikTok wants each user to scroll through their feed for as long as possible each day. And it’s working. The average TikTok user spends 95 minutes each day on TikTok

So, what keeps people glued to their screens for an hour and a half every day? Interesting and entertaining content. All the algorithm cares about is finding the best content and pushing it to as many people as possible, hoping to keep users entertained and scrolling just a little bit longer. 

How The Algorithm Works

You can take advantage of the algorithm once you understand how it works. Anytime you publish a new TikTok video, the algorithm will immediately serve it up to a small sample population of viewers as a test. It picks users it believes would like your content based on your TikTok’s title, captions, hashtags, and audio. The algorithm then pushes your content into their “For You” feed, and analyzes how they interact with it.  

TikTok looks at two main engagement stats: watch time and completion rate. If a high percentage of users watch your TikTok video to the end, TikTok will assume its relevant and useful content and push it out further to more users. On the other hand, if most users skip after three seconds, TikTok labels it as boring and stops recommending it to others. Likes, comments, replays, and shares also factor in the success of your video. 

TikTok Viral Video Editing Tips

You don’t have to make editing your TikTok videos complicated. Here are a few video editing tips to help you upload engaging content that gets watched:

Keep it short and sweet 

TikTok videos are meant to be short and snappy. Aim for 15 seconds or less. Longer TikToks can land well, but you have to do them right. Make sure the story flows logically, and keep the pace up.

Viewers Love Creative Editing 

Film short clips and use fast cuts to put it all together. Bonus points if you switch between multiple camera angles. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things, as TikTok is a creative and informal platform. When your editing is really on point, viewers will re-watch your TikTok video to try and figure out how you did it. The algorithm loves and rewards replays. 

Follow the 3-Second Rule To Boost Your Video 

Attention spans are brutally short on TikTok. Your content must pop immediately, or the viewer is scrolling on. Edit out any wasted time at the start of your clip, and make sure to open strong. You have three seconds max to convey to viewers what your TikTok is about and why they should care. 

Pro Tip: Use Text Captions 

Most people watch TikTok videos with the sound off. Use text captions to make your content more accessible. Take advantage of the auto caption editing option if you’d prefer to have the app do it for you. The algorithm also uses the keywords in your captions to categorize your TikTok video.

You can also use text to summarize ideas, highlight specific words, and display your call to action. Text captions allow you to get more information across in a short period and can make your content easier to understand. Just don’t put up huge blocks of text. They take too long to read and distract from what else is on screen. 

Be Stingy With Filters & Effects 

Filters and effects can be fun, but you can easily overuse them. Use them sparingly, and only if they add to the overall look of your video. If there’s too much happening on-screen at once, you can easily overload, confuse, or even annoy your viewer.  

Use Trending Music 

Music and audio can make or break your TikTok. It’s an effective way to stop scrollers in their tracks and catch their interest. The algorithm also promotes TikTok videos that feature trending audio. There are many ways to research trending audio. Here are a few of our favorites: 

  • If you have a free TikTok business account, log into TikTok’s Creative Center, where you can view the most popular songs and filter by region.
  • Log onto Tokboard to see the top songs each week. You can click on any song to find info on its daily views and the number of popular TikTok videos that feature the track. There’s also a link to take you into TikTok and show you the most popular videos for each song.
  • Search for ‘TikTok’ in Spotify, then view playlists. Or follow TikTok’s Spotify account. They feature ten playlists of the top tracks by region. 

Trends are massive on TikTok. If you want ideas for current trends you can hop on, and check out this article listing 29 of the top TikTok trends in 2023

Insert The Right Hashtags 

Hashtags help to categorize your content. Users look up hashtags to search for the content they wish to see, and the algorithm will evaluate your hashtags to index your content. When editing your clips, you must choose the right hashtags to expand your reach. 

For example, a company selling wood fire pizza ovens could consider the following hashtag mix in a TikTok video showing off their product.

  •  Popular Hashtags – #foodlover, #cooking, #pizza
  • Niche Hashtags – #woodfirepizzaoven, #backyardcooking, and #homemadepizza

Ideally, aim for a balance between popular hashtags that can gain a broad audience and potentially more eyeballs (albeit with greater competition) and niche keywords targeted to your desired audience. 

It’s Ok To Make Mistakes – And Leave Them In  

Don’t always feel like you have to upload perfect videos. If you leave mistakes in or make fun of yourself, you seem more genuine and relatable to viewers. Another good reason to leave in errors? Viewers love to point them out in the comments. The more comments you get on a TikTok video, the more likely the algorithm will promote your clip.

 Here are a couple of bonus ways to increase engagement: 

  • Ask a question and for viewers to respond in the comments section
  • Include a call to action (CTA), such as to like, share, or follow
  • Leave something unanswered or ambiguous. Don’t confuse your audience, but you can leave a detail out to encourage questions in the comment section. Respond to any questions that come up. 

The Best TikTok Editing Apps

Now that you understand the algorithm and have some ideas to improve your editing, it’s time to look at some video editor options. If you want to do your own TikTik editing, you have two options: Edit in the TikTok app or edit with 3rd party apps or software. 

Keep It All In TikTok

The simplest way to edit TikTok videos is to use the app’s built-in editor. You can choose to film in-app or upload clips from your camera to the editor. When you film and edit directly on TikTok, your content will be native to the app, and you won’t have to worry about reformatting it. 

Make the most of TikTok editing app

TikTok gives you all the basic editing tools to create viral content. With TikTok’s video editor, you can:

  • Trim video length and stack multiple clips together with preset transitions
  • Add music, sound, or voice-overs and adjust the duration and audio levels
  • Add text layers or captions to enhance your video
  • Use stickers, effects, and filters
  • Add photo and video overlays for picture-in-picture stacking
  • Adjust video speed (faster or slower)
  • Frame your content by zooming in or out on specific clips
  • Use photo mode if you want a picture-only carousel to deliver your message

For most TikTokkers, these video editing tools give you everything you need to start creating eye-catching videos. 

For More Advanced Editing Options, Use a 3rd Party App

If you crave more creative freedom, you need a more powerful video editor to bring your masterpieces to life. While TikTok’s editor is good enough, it lacks a few features you might need. 

  • you can’t crop 1:1 or 16:9 clips from your library to 3:4 (TikTok’s favored aspect ratio)
  • If your resolution is higher than 1080p, TikTok’s video compression algorithm will often cause your video to be blurry
  • You can’t remove unwanted objects from your background or reduce shakiness
  • If you use multiple videos and apply filters, text, or effects and then want to edit video lengths, you will have to redo all of your editing effects again

 Here are a few of the most popular TikTok video editing apps:

iMovie | iOS, MacOS | Free

iMovie has a clean interface, and you can easily split, trim, and change the video speed. It also makes it simple to crop footage and creates picture-in-picture footage. Scrubbing through your project is a breeze; just drag your finger across the screen. iMovie comes with an extensive free library of special effects and music. iMovie is one of the best free TikTok video editors out there. Sorry, Android users.

Funimate | Android, iOS | Free, In-app purchases

Funimate gives you the most options for video effects, including video looping. The app has over 100 advanced effects, and you can also create your own. You can choose to take on Funimate’s daily challenges to be recognized by their music video community and boost your channel. The free video editor comes with a watermark and limits some features. Opt for some in-app purchases to take advantage of what this fun TikTok video maker can do.

Inshot | Android, iOS | Free, $3.99/month, $14.99/year, or $34.99 lifetime

Inshot is easy to use and makes it simple to re-size and share a clip for any social media platform. Inshot has a huge filter and effects library and allows you to easily trim, split, merge, and delete clips. You can also extract music from other videos and add it to your own. Inshot provides advanced tools to edit videos that you won’t find in free editing apps. You’ll want the paid version, as the free version lacks editing features and will add a watermark to your video. 

Zoomerang | Android, iOS | $4.99/week or $29.99/year

Provides step-by-step tutorials on how to recreate popular trends using TikTok video templates. Connect your TikTok, IG, and Snapchat accounts for easy exports. The free version is limited and comes with ads. The paid version comes with hundreds of transitions and many effects, filters, text, and stickers. Zoomerang is a beginner-friendly TikTok editor.

Which TikTok video editing app you choose is a matter of personal preference. Most TikTok video editors specialize in a specific type of video or editing style. If you’re brand new to TikTok, it’s a good idea to use the app’s built-in editor and focus on creating exciting content while you learn. 

If you notice limitations in the app and wish for specific features, that’s a good sign to start looking around for alternate options. At that point, you’ll have a good idea of what you need and can better navigate all the options.

Improve Your Odds of Getting Lucky

There isn’t a surefire way to go viral on TikTok. There will always be luck involved in whether or not your clip gains enough engagement to get picked up by the algorithm. But, if you understand how the algorithm works and apply our TikTok viral video editing tips, you increase the odds that your next video will get lucky and blow up. Here’s a quick recap of our top TikTok viral editing tips: 

  • Short & Sweet – 15 seconds videos or less
  • Hook viewers in the first three seconds and give them a reason to stay
  • Film short clips and sew them together with fast cuts. Use multiple camera angles
  • Caption your text to make it more accessible and interesting
  • Only use effects and filters when they add value
  • Trending audio gets more views
  • Hashtags help to index & spread your content. Mix popular and niche keywords
  • Leave some mistakes in. Encourage viewers to comment and include a CTA 

Implement these tips in your next upload, and it’s far more likely that viewers will stop scrolling long enough to watch your TikTok. Until you become a seasoned TikTok pro and find yourself looking for extra features or conveniences, start with the TikTok app and focus on creating engaging content. 

From there, it’s just about consistently making and uploading content. If enough people in a test sample interact positively with your TikTok video, the algorithm will push it to the For You feed of more users, where it can take off. 

Get out there and get creative, and hopefully, we will see one of your videos cross our feed sometime soon!

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