TikTok: How the Insanely Popular App Works and How to Use It

It's skyrocketing in popularity.

Micro-vlogging app TikTok has won over tweens, stunned the business world, and perplexed anyone over the age of 18. The social media platform is a fusion of Vine’s short video format, Snapchat’s interactive filters, and’s lip-syncing gimmick. At least so far, this trifecta has helped rustle up hundreds of millions of active users and boat-loads of cash.

After just one round of funding, TikTok’s holding company, Bytedance, raised $3 billion making it the world’s most valuable startup. The Chinese startup’s short-form video service was the most downloaded iOS app in the first quarter of 2018, with more than 45 million global downloads over three month’s time.

Bytedance acquired in November 2017 and according to data from March 2017, the lip-syncing app has already lured 14 percent of U.S. teens and young adults. TikTok has since put in work to expand its reach.

Here’s how what to expect and how to navigate one of the world’s fastest growing apps.

TikTok: How To Get Started

Once you’ve downloaded the app and set up your account you’ll be thrust into TikTok’s endless video stream known as the “For You” tab. This is just like Instagram Discover. The stream will automatically play posts based on the content you’ve liked or engaged with in the past.

TikTok's incredible climb to stardom.

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Tap on the “Following” tap at the top of the screen to navigate to a feed that is populated with videos from just the people you follow. If you’re just getting started and aren’t following anyone, hit the magnifying glass icon at the bottom left of the screen.

This menu will let you search trending hashtags, popular users, and hot songs that people are including in their posts. There’s literally every form of content imaginable in here. Dance challenges, lip-syncing videos, slapstick humor, viral magic tricks, and of course adorable animals abound.

If a certain user strikes you as particularly hilarious or talented, add them to your feed. Tap their handle, found above the video’s caption on the lower left part of the screen, to go to their profile to give them a follow.

A breakdown of how to interact with videos on TikTok.

Factor Daily

TikTok: How To Post Your Own Videos

Once you’ve gotten a feel for what’s out there, you can try your hand at making your own 15-second clip. Tap the plus sign found to the right of the magnifying glass to access your smartphone’s camera on the app.

If you’ve ever posted a Snapchat or Instagram story, this part will be fairly straightforward. Use the menus found on the upper right hand corner of the app to add filters, speed things up, slow things down, and make edits.

TikTok’s claim to fame is its lip-syncing feature, which can be accessed by tapping “Add a Sound” at the top of the camera interface. Browse a song you want to film yourself singing or rapping along with and the app will line up your pantomimes with the music.

Don’t worry about getting all of the effects and music perfectly before you press the red record button. If you let go of it TikTok will stop recording and let you adjust things again.

How to interact with another user's profile.

Factor Daily

Nailing the right video will take a few tries, but the best way to get acquainted with the editing features is to keep filming and editing. You don’t have to post everything you record.

TikTok: Manage Your Account

When you’ve got a video you’re proud of hit the “Next” button at the bottom right of the screen to add a caption, hashtags, and other details. Then click post.

You can check how reactions to your clip by navigation to the Notification menu by clicking the comment bubble next to the plus sign at the bottom of the screen. This tab will also notify you when one of the users you follow post something new.

Now, get browsing and consider yourself in the loop.