Over the last several months, there have been complaints among creators that views are on a steady decline and follower growth is lagging. But hasn’t this always been this with TikTok in 2023? Gone are the days of that marvellous algorithm that could catapult creators to virality with just a few candid videos. 

To paint a clearer picture, out of many accounts with over 50 million followers, 20 out of 21 hit that threshold prior to summer 2020, more than three years ago, the one exception being Selena Gomez—and even she, a global superstar, has been on the platform for years.

Why was the OG TikTok algorithm so revolutionary? Alex Zhu—founder of Musical.ly, which sold to TikTok—preached that the FYP finally broke the mould of the big getting bigger by focusing on the value of each piece of content individually, giving late adopters a fighting chance.

We can confirm that statistics show that over the last year and a half, there has been a decrease in the number of viral hits (classified as any video with over 10 million views). Videos with over 10 million views peaked in February 2022 at 9,259 per week; this stat has dropped to less than 4,600 videos per week in April 2023. In short, just over a year ago, there were more than double the number of viral videos.

For slightly less macro content, the average views per video on content with between 10k and 100k views has also fallen steadily since a peak in December 2022. The average views a creator is seeing now (212,000) is less than the average over the past 6 months (219,000)—but, is a 7,000 view difference normal or cause for concern?

Adweek has concluded the following; “For a data point to be considered an aberration, it needs to lie at least 1.6 standard deviations from the mean. While recent views are decidedly below average, statistically speaking, it can’t be considered an outlier, meaning this recent dip doesn’t provide a meaningful signal that views are actually in decline—at least for now. That said, this very well could be an early indicator of even bigger declines to come.”

Another observation by creators is that virality is now more of a slow burner than an overnight sensation result. While their typical video in February 2022 would hit 10,000 views in 24 hours, now the same type of content takes up to a week to reach those numbers. This could also be a byproduct of TikTok’s emphasis on search. Several videos also increase in popularity with less of a harsh ‘spike’ and over several months. While many creators historically believed videos gained nearly all their views in the first week, videos posted in late January or early February are still seeing up to 20% growth weeks later.

Videos posted before November 2022, however, were unlikely to pick up more than 3% additional views, indicating that TikTok is no longer pushing them to the FYP.

In addition, TikTok is a different ball game to other apps. Contrary to platforms like Instagram, established accounts aren’t necessarily amassing more followers—in fact, creators with 100,000 followers have seen a 30,000 average drop in views.

In conclusion, marketers need to adjust their strategies to this evolving landscape. The era of instant virality is receding, demanding a patient approach and realistic expectations. Vigilance is key in spotting rising creators for potential influencer partnerships, given the platform’s continual flux, and adaptability is crucial as tastes and preferences shift alongside TikTok’s expanding user base.

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