How To Use TikTok: A Beginner’s Guide

With over 800 million active users, TikTok has become an internet sensation.

How To Use TikTok: A Beginner's Guide

If you’re new to the app or have kids who live on it, this tutorial will show you how to use TikTok and offer a high-level overview of what goes on there.

TikTok is the leading destination for short videos, and with all the fun features available in the app, it is easy to get hooked. Users can create singing, dancing, comedy, and lip-syncing videos and apply lots of fun filters to add life and color to them. It started as part of the app Music.ly with its lip-syncing videos. It also has elements of  Snapchat with its filters and chat. Aimed squarely at teenagers, it’s a social network full of short videos that seemingly came out of nowhere to take over the phones of anyone of a certain age.

Setting up TikTok

The most popular form of TikTok is the mobile app. You can also use the TikTok website for some things, but it doesn’t have all of the same features. For that reason, you should download the app onto your phone from your relevant app store and install it. Then you will need to set up an account, and then you can get started.

  1. Download TikTok from the App Store or the Google Play Store and install it.
  2. Set up your account by following the wizard.

TikTok will then ask you to provide a working phone number. While this isn’t something you have to provide, you can’t send messages to other users without it. Providing your phone number is also a good way to secure your account and make sure you can get your account back. Upon setting up your account, you can start watching and making your own videos. But first, let’s talk about your Profile page.

How to Set Up Your Profile Page

TikTok’s Profile pages are quite simple in nature. Like other social media platforms, you can add a username, profile picture, and short bio.

Here are the key highlights of your profile page:

  • You can access your Profile page by clicking on the Profile icon in the lower right corner.
  • At the top, you will see your profile picture and your username. Other users can find your profile by searching for the name with the ‘@’ symbol before it.
  • Under your Profile picture and username you’ll see the number of people you follow, the number of people who follow you, and how many likes your videos (collectively) have.
  • Now, you’ll see three icons. Tapping on the first icon will reveal all of the videos you’ve posted (as well as those in your drafts). Tapping on the second will show other creators’ videos that you’ve liked, and the last icon will show you any private videos.
  • If you need to access TikTok’s Settings tap the three line menu icon in the upper right corner. Here, you can change your privacy settings, and more.
  • In this menu, you will find several options for customizing your Privacy, Account, and even notifications.

That’s it. You’re in and can now start enjoying the social network.

Using TikTok

Once you log in, you should see the ‘For You’ feed which lists the most popular videos right now. Select one to watch and like it if you want, to show your appreciation. If you play a video, it will loop until you stop it or choose another.

If you want to look around, hit the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the screen to search. You can search by trending hashtags, most popular users, hot songs, or videos. Select a video to begin playing it.

If you like the video, you can like it by tapping on the heart icon on the right or add a comment with the speech bubble. If the user has several videos you like, you can follow them by selecting their name and add them to your feed.

TikTok uses your likes and follows to build up a profile of what you like watching and what you don’t and will tune your For You feed accordingly. Once you have been using TikTok for a bit and have liked a few videos, you will see the Following tab at the top of the main screen, which will feature videos from the people who made the videos you liked. It’s a shortcut to content that you may or may not want to use.

Uploading Your Own Video to TikTok

Browsing and consuming media is only a tiny part of Tik Tok. Its real strength lies in helping you create your own video, perform some basic editing, and then uploading it to the site. It isn’t compulsory, of course, but you’re missing out if you’re not contributing.

TikTok is made for short videos. Initially, TikTok let creators make 15-second videos. Today, you can post videos ranging from 15-seconds all the way up to 3-minutes. As you would hope, TikTok makes it super easy to create your own content to add to the network. If you have used Snapchat or Instagram, the process isn’t that different.

How to Upload Your Own Video

Here are the basics of adding your own video to TikTok.

  1. Prepare yourself, the setting, the song or sketch and get everything ready beforehand.
  2. Rehearse what you’re going to do until it’s perfect.
  3. Open Tik Tok on your phone and hit the ‘+’ at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Select any audio you want to add by selecting ‘Sounds’ at the top.
  5. Press record when you’re ready.
  6. Press record again to stop if it doesn’t stop automatically.
  7. Add any effects, text or edits to your video in the next screen and select Next when done.
  8. Select any friends you want to tag and select Next.
  9. Select Post when you’re ready to publish.

How to Create a Duet on TikTok

You and your friend can perform a duet on TikTok, even when you are in two separate locations. Duet works only with public videos which are 15 seconds or under in length.

  1. Open a video from your friend and select the Share icon.
  2. Then tap the Duet icon.

How to Create a Stitch Video

A Stitch video is similar to a Duet because you’re interacting with another person’s content. But rather than reacting to their content, you’re adding to it. Stitches can be used for a lot of things, but essentially what you’re doing is showing your viewers a small clip of the original creator’s content, then adding your own content to the end of it.

Follow the same steps as above by tapping on the Share icon and click Stitch instead. Then, do this to upload it:

  1. Use the slider at the bottom to select how much of the original video you want to use. Then, click Next in the upper right corner.
  2. Choose the length of you video then hold the record button to record your content.
  3. When you’re finished recording, tap on the red checkmark in the lower right corner.
  4. Review your video and add any finishing touches. Then, tap Next.
  5. Now you’re on the Posting page. Make any necessary selections and click Post.

If you don’t see the option to Stitch someone’s video, it’s either because they have the feature turned off or they have a private profile.

Save a Draft

TikTok allows you to save a video as a draft and post it later. To do this:

  1. Tap the Create Video icon.
  2. When you finish recording your video, tap Next.
  3. Tap Drafts.

The main thing to remember when shooting a video for TikTok is that more time is spent on the things you don’t see than the things you do. Preparation and rehearsal are key. It could take an hour to get your 15-second performance just right, and several takes before you’re happy. That’s okay, and something most people on TikTok accept as normal.

Frequently Asked Questions

TikTok is a relatively simple platform, but there is so much to learn. We’ve included more information in this section.

Can I make money on TikTok?

Yes! But it will take some work. Fortunately, TikTok has a pretty good track record of supporting no-name creators (as opposed to Instagram, where celebrities reign). We actually have an article here that will teach you how to get more followers and therefore make money on TikTok.

Is TikTok safe?

TikTok is only as safe as the user makes it. This means that only you can protect yourself. While the platform does have guidelines and security features, it’s important to understand that what you post online and what information you provide can be used for more nefarious reasons.

TikTok has strict policies for minors (no account owners under the age of 13, and minors cannot send gifts to creators, etc.). It also offers a great reporting feature and a blocking feature. However, spammers and deviants still figure out ways to bypass these controls.

If you want to use TikTok, it’s important to have a strong password, be wary of any external links, and use the native security features to protect yourself and your identity. Again, remember that anything you put online will basically be online forever.

Do I have to create a TikTok account to use the platform?

No. TikTok will let you view public videos without an account. While this does limit your ability to interact with others, you can still watch videos without providing any personal information.

What is the ‘Culture’ of TikTok?

When we say ‘Culture,’ we mean the unwritten rules of the platform. What is and what is not socially acceptable for more avid users?

For starters, TikTok, like any other social media platform, can be a pleasant place where users can find funny, interesting content. But there are also negative aspects. Keep in mind that if you post a video, you’re likely to have a few negative comments. It’s best to ignore these comments, but you can report or block the user if they are too volatile.

Next, if you find a creator you really enjoy, click the Follow button to support them and like their videos. You can also tune into their Live videos to send gifts that they can later convert to money. Just keep in mind that TikTok has a very strange spamming algorithm that can actually hurt their account. So, watch videos in their entirety and don’t spam their like button. Scrolling through their profile and liking every video can have a negative impact on their account.

When you like, comment, or follow, TikTok will show you more content similar to that. Eventually, you may notice that all you see on your For You page is limited to certain content. This can get pretty boring because your For You page becomes an echo chamber of the same content. To avoid this, use the Discover button to find other genres of videos then interact with them.

Lastly, TikTok has strict Community Guidelines. Read through these before interacting; otherwise, you may experience an account ban.

Hopefully, now TikTok isn’t as bewildering as it once was, and you have the basics of how the network works and how to contribute. The rest is down to experimentation, trial and error. Good luck with it!

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