TiKTok Beginner’s Guide: Everything you Need to Know 

‘Make Your Day’ — there is a slogan of one of the most popular social media platforms, TikTok. Surprisingly, in such a short time, the application really managed to change the world in terms of human behavior, in other words, ‘Make Their Day’. Today it is very hard to find a person that has not heard about TikTok. But even if you are not a user of this platform but want to stay up-to-date with the modern news, you need to understand how TikTok works. In this guide, we want to raise questions related to the new opportunities the platform gets not only for its users but also for advertisers, how to use TikTok, what are the tricks to make your account popular, and much more. Are you ready? Let’s start!

The history: who, when, and why

First of all, before diving into the TikTok’s features, we decided to dwell on the history of the application. Here is the short dossier. TikTok is the social media app designed for sharing lip-sync and comedy videos. It came out on iOS and Android platforms in 2017. The developer is a Chinese Internet technology company — Beijing ByteDance Technology Co Ltd (ByteDance). Although the application was built by the Chinese company, TikTok does not operate there. Instead, to meet Chinese law, ByteDance launched Douyin a little bit earlier, in September 2016. It is the same application. Today, TikTok is popular in all parts of the world, including the USA and Europe. Basically, it focuses on a teenage audience. So if you are an advertiser and sell the outfits for adolescents, then TikTok can be an effective tool for promotion.

And now is the time for statistical information. We promise that it will be as impressive as possible and not boring. In the previous year (2018), TikTok was recognized as the most downloadable application in the United States. It was the first Chinese app to do so. And for the time of writing, no other Chinese app has been able to repeat this success. At the beginning of 2019 (February 2019), TikTok surpass the one billion download mark globally. In autumn 2019, the app is available in 75 languages and more than 150 countries. 

Functionality: what you can do on TikTok

One of the best explanations that TikTok is gave the Vice President of Marketing on Manscaped (the company that is actively advertising on the platform), Ryan Fiore. Here is the quote: ‘If Instagram Stories and Vine had a baby and then infused it with music, that’s TikTok’. 

So, the application combines several trends of social content platforms:

  • Short-form videos;
  • Designed for mobile devices;
  • Focus on music, comedy, and dancing. 
  • Users can follow people they like, create and share lip-sync videos of 3 to 15 seconds or looping videos of 3 seconds to one minute, explore the hashtags based on different topics. 

The secret of popularity: what makes TikTok so popular

TikTok is not the platform for kids. It is a platform for kids that are trendsetters. And what is unique is the type of posted content and the way it is distributed. Let's look at it in more detail. 

First of all, we want to start from the type of content represented on the platform and then move to the distributing approach. On TikTok, the main word is ‘Sound’: short clips of audio (between 15 to 60 seconds, in general). Before making a video, you need to choose the music first, and only after that, tap the recording button. The application will start to play a sound so you can dance, lip-synch, or do other fun things. Some of the examples of a common TikTok video format:

  • Doing specific and unusual moving to the song;
  • Joking, and using the song as the background music;
  • Tell something about yourself to the song.

Also, users can change the sound by pausing the recording. The reason it will start to go viral is that TikTok has a large community, and other users will probably want to make a video to this sound too. On TikTok, everyone is making the same content, but it becomes really popular and addictive. Why? To this question, we will answer below. 

How is the content distributed? Everything is simple. You can become a popular person from the first video. Ridiculous? Unbelievable? But this is the way TikTok works. You do not need followers, a lot of clouts, or anything else. The platform uses a unique machine learning mechanism that evaluates the quality of the video: 

  • Once you posted a new clip, the application shows it with the most popular videos;
  • Then it measures the percentage of clips this group of users watches and their activity (likes, shares, etc.). If your video receives 1/10 conversion from a view, most likely, it will continue to grow. 

How to use TikTok: creating an account

And now, when we know a little bit of information about what TikTok is, when and by whom it was created, and the secrets of its popularity, it is time to move on and learn how you can use it. The first thing you need to do is download the application on the mobile phone. As we mentioned above, the app is available on iOS and Android, so you can find it on the Apple Store or Google Play, respectively. TikTok is completely free to install and download. Secondly, the application will ask you to create an account. Let’s do it together?

On the main page, the platform provides you with several registration options. You can do it using the social network, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or sign up with phone number or email. Select the option you prefer the most and move on. Now, as you join the platform, you can post the clips, follow other people, and interact with them. But we want to make a little pause and tell you about one hidden opportunity you have on TikTok. By default, all the accounts are public. It means that anybody can watch, like, and comment on your video. But you can make your account private. For this:

  • Find in the top-right corner three-dot sign. Click on it; 
  • Navigate to Privacy and Safety page;
  • Press the Private Account option.

By activating this feature, you keep strangers from viewing your video. If someone wants to start following you, they can make it only after your approval. Also, in the Privacy and Safety tab, you can adjust other settings and permissions related to messaging, comments, likes, reactions, and more. 

How to use TikTok: how to watch videos and interact with other users

After logging in, you will be brought to the clip viewing page automatically. In this chapter, we want to dwell on how to discover new videos, like them, comment, and so on. Although the app’s interface is intuitive and understandable, there are some nuances. How to perform the basic interacting actions:

  • To like the video, press the heart icon on the right-hand side;
  • To comment on the video, tap the conversation bubble under the like icon;
  • To share the video with friends, press the share sign under the comment icon; 
  • To see the account of a person whose video you are watching, you can scroll to the left or tap the profile image on the right bar. 

How to use TikTok: the main buttons on the menu bar

  • The menu bar is located on the bottom of the screen. It consists of five icons. Let’s explore them in detail:
  • The first sign is shaped like a house. If you want to refresh the page and see new recommendations, you need to press it;
  • The next button is a Search icon. TikTok allows you to search for any video content or any user;
  • In the middle, there is the Plus icon that lets you upload or create the video on the platform;
  • Right next to the Plus sign, you notice the Message icon. It signalizes you that here you can access the notifications;
  • The last icon navigates you to your profile page where you can edit the account’s information, change the avatar, username, and so on. 

How to use TikTok: creating the first video

Creating clips on TikTok is extremely easy. This process is very similar to the one used by Instagram. So, as we discovered above, you can do it by pressing the Plus icon located in the middle of the bottom menu. As it is your first time creating the video, the application will ask for permission to access the camera and microphone on the mobile phone. On the right side, you can notice the buttons to set up a timer and filters. In the bottom left, you can select the additional filters. Once you’ve made all the preparation, you can tap and hold the big red button to record the video. If you have already had the recorded video and want to upload it on the platform, we will tell you how to do it in the next chapter. 

The clip creation is just a part of our deal. The next step is editing. For this, click the red check. Here, in the upper right corner, you can choose another sound, adjust the volume, add special effects, and so on.

How to use TikTok: uploading the video from Gallery

Like Instagram, you can not only create the video but also upload the existing one. For this, press the Plus icon. Once you arrive on the recording page, do not press the Record button, find the Upload button on the right and tap on it. After that, you will see the Gallery files so you can choose the video you want to upload. Tap on it and wait for several seconds. Then, you can go to the editing settings to add effects, text, and so on. 

Final tips and tricks

TikTok has a lot of funny things that we can’t discuss in this article. Therefore, we advise you to spend some time and explore them. Some of the non-mentioned tricks: 

  • You can create GIFs. For this, click on the desired video and press the arrow button on the right. You can see a number of options to share a clip as well as the Share as GIF feature. Click on it;
  • You can use the song from someone else’s clip without the music recognition apps. For this, you need to press the vinyl record sign in the bottom right corner, and then click Use this sound;
  • You can perform a duet. Select the video you want to use, click the Share button, and choose the Duet option. 

As you can see, the TikTok’s opportunities are almost endless. What is your favorite option, and why?

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