The developer got TikTok after testing algorithm theories

  • Felicia Coleman is a former software developer who helped build the app for a major US bank.
  • She got TikTok tested by testing her theories on the platform’s algorithm.
  • Within a few months, her account had grown to over 245,000 followers.

Felicia Coleman, a 30-year-old former software developer, has spent the past few months systematically making assumptions and testing theories about TikTok, in the process growing her page from 0 to 245,000 followers.

Over the past month, Coleman has shared insights and theories she has about TikTok. Although she hasn’t been able to confirm these theories using TikTok, her followers are eager to learn more about the platform’s mysterious algorithm. Coleman believes her growth in TikTok has been helped by her focus on factors such as engagement rates, frequency of posting, and video length.

The TikTok spokesperson did not directly respond to Coleman’s theories, but did direct the Insider to the company’s blog post about its recommendation system.

The post says the recommendations are “based on a number of factors,” which include “user interactions”; “Video information” such as “captions, sounds, and hashtags”; and other inputs.

Coleman believes that posting frequently, likes and comments, helped her get followers

TikTok screenshot of Felicia Coleman

TikTok /FeleciaForTheWin

Coleman did not immediately find success on TikTok.

“I downloaded TikTok for the first time in November 2021, and went for it with a strategy that I wanted to work. I was posting clothes, I was showing off my apartment, and I wanted to keep it super simple,” Coleman said, adding that in the beginning I posted a video or two a day, it hit The average number of views per video is 100 views. “But nothing was working.”

Then, in the middle of January, she said she found another user’s video on her For You page who suggested posting about 10 videos a day to speed up the process of tagging or finding your videos. She said she started devoting four hours a day to producing and posting 10 videos, and was amazed that it seemed to work.

“In two weeks, I had 10,000 followers,” she said. “I was shocked. Then, I started thinking [growth] intentionally.”

When asked, a TikTok spokesperson referred to the company’s blog “5 Tips for TikTok Creators” which says that posting frequency will not affect – positively or negatively – how you choose a video for an FYP plan.

The blog states that “the number of videos you post will not affect how your content is recommended in the For You feed, and views vary from video to video.”

However, statistically speaking, more videos posting means a higher probability of joining FYP. This is especially true if TikTok doesn’t penalize you for posting frequently.

Coleman also believes that engagement is a key factor in the algorithm, that the ratio of views to likes should be at least 10% and that likes for comments should be at least 2% to spread the post widely.

Coleman follows developer approach to TikTok

Coleman previously worked on an application at a large US bank, where she said the core of her job was to change and test different tokens.

I applied this thought process when testing what works on TikTok, including the length of the video.

In the past months, she has said that her videos longer than two minutes sounded better than her videos under one minute. However, in the past few weeks, she said she has seen a drop in views in her videos over the course of two minutes, while her videos under one minute have gained views.

“The more followers I have, the less I get, and I start shooting two or three videos a day; they are all over two minutes long,” she said. “But over the past three weeks, none of these videos have crossed 10,000 views. So I said, ‘Let’s do A/B testing.'”

I started posting two videos on the same topic: one close to three minutes and one less than one minute away. She said the image that was less than a minute got 17,000 views, while the longer image got less than 10,000 views.

When asked about this remark from Coleman, a TikTok spokesperson said that “watch time” — not length — was a better factor in determining whether a video was being pushed to FYP, noting this line in the company’s blog: “Our recommendation system takes time to watch. As an indication that users are enjoying your content.”

Overall, since Coleman built such a large audience in such a short time, she said she’s cut back on growth testing and is exploring how she can pair her background in coding with her new spotlight on TikTok.

“People email me saying they’ll pay me just to explain everything I know to them,” she said with a laugh. “I was like, sure, but I’m not a marketing person at TikTok. I’m a software engineer with a perspective.”