TikTok 101: Everything You Need To Know
I’ve spent the past hour scrolling through a feed filled with fifteen-second videos, featuring (predominantly) teenagers lip-syncing, dancing and being generally ridiculous to the tune of their favourite songs.
Some have added in filters and special effect overlays to their videos, making their content look wonderfully weird and kitschy.
In one clip, CGI heart emojis float on the screen as a young man “punches” them along to the beat of popular song “Taki Taki” by DJ Snake (feat. Selena Gomez, Cardi B, Ozuna). The hearts turn from red to black at the “touch” of his fist.
As I continue to swipe up “challenge” and “duet” videos fill my feed, and I try to wrap my aging Millennial brain around what is the hottest social media platform on the internet.
This is TikTok, a new short-form video-sharing platform that’s been taking the digital world by storm.
Never heard of it? Ask your teenage son or daughter. They’re definitely familiar with the app.
Launched by the Chinese company Bytedance in 2016 (known as “Douyin” to its Mandarin-speaking users) TikTok could maybe be described as the love child of six-second video-sharing platform Vine (R.I.P.) and Snapchat. But even that doesn’t do it justice, as it’s tough to sum up the platform in a few words.
When compared to earlier versions of other social media apps TikTok is quite a complex and intricate platform to wrap your head around. It’s certainly not your typical social media app.
If you’re over the age of twenty-five and don’t have as much time on your hands as a highschooler to figure out how it works, here’s a comprehensive breakdown of everything you need to know about TikTok.
First Things First: Why is TikTok So Popular With Gen-Zers?
In 2019 attention spans are shorter than ever before, especially among Gen-Zers (i.e. 16-24-year-old). Whether you consider this a good or bad thing, TikTok has embraced it.
“The world has embraced the smartphone era, resulting in ever-shortening attention spans and a distinct change in user behavior when it comes to creating and consuming content,” a TikTok spokesperson said to ITP Live.
“TikTok has become the preferred platform for expression, especially among the Gen Z audience, because of its lower barriers for sharing, creating, discovering content, including easy-to-use creation tools.”
And the creation tools are a massive upside to using TikTok, especially for users who don’t have access to sophisticated video editing software.
Couple that with CGI-infused filters and a vast selection of music and sound effects, no wonder it's becoming the go to social media platform for young adults.
How To Get Started on TikTok
Creating a TikTok account is a pretty straightforward affair.
Simply download the app, create an account and, presto, you’re officially ready to start uploading content to the platform. You can also share a few words about yourself within your bio, upload a profile photo or video, and link your YouTube and Instagram account to your TikTok.
Like many short-form video-sharing platforms, you can only upload content from your smartphone to your TikTok account via the app. There is no web browser version of the platform.
But How Does It Actually Work?
Once you open the app, you'll be taken to TikTok’s Discover section, where you can scroll through a list of regionally trending hashtags (known as challenges). This is a great place to start if you’re looking for some inspiration and have no clue where to begin (don’t worry, that feeling is completely normal for TikTok newbies.)
Feeling ready to upload a video? Tap the “+” sign at the bottom of your screen.
You’ll be immediately directed to TikTok’s camera. You can then decide whether you want to upload a pre-recorded video or film new content directly within the app. You will also be able to select a song, “effect” ( essentially, it’s a CGI filter) and/or beautifying filter to apply to your content. Stickers and emoji’s are also available, along with a variety of other fun features.
Spend some time playing around on the app and don’t worry about making your content perfect; TikTok is meant to be a fun, fast way of sharing content. Users can also add stickers and emojis, along with a variety of other features into their videos. Over all the in-app editing tools are very user-friendly (probably one of the reasons why it's so popular with Gen-Zers).
Once you’re happy with your video, hit the “Next” button at the bottom left of the screen. Like most platforms, you can add in a hashtag and tag a friend before uploading your content to your feed.
Voila! You just uploaded your first TikTok video!
Tips and Tricks For Growing An Audience on TikTok
Growing an audience on a new platform can be hard. According to TikTok, its platform rewards content created by both popular tastemakers and emerging talent.
“Find your main creative focus by picking a content topic or area that is unique, meaningful to you; has a group of people who would be interested in it; and [is something of interest where] you can add your own flavor,” TikTok said to ITP Live.
“Then start uploading ‘slice of your life’ content, which are not the everyday ‘vlog’ moments, but a select, funny organic clip you can capture. This really gets the viewers’ attention on TikTok.”
With the right description and hashtags, your content will be visible to the right audience.
TikTok also encourages its users to collaborate with the help of certain features. For example, the “Duet” feature allows a user to pick a follower to duet one of their videos.
It’s also easy to interact with other creators within the TikTok community. Users can follow each other, comment and engage with content, and in-person at conferences or other creator-focused events.
“Participating in trending hashtags and challenges are also a creative way to find new topics to expose content to new viewers,” TikTok said.
Overall, TikTok is a fun app and it's easy to understand why Gen-Zers are big fans of the platform.
If you have some extra time on your hands, it's definitely worth checking out.
Are you on TikTok? Let us know in the comments below and leave a link to your handle.
Image credit: Shutterstock and TikTok.