- TikTok is a wildly popular social media platform that lets users create short-form videos, and is sparking a new generation of influencers and viral memes.
- The app has been downloaded more than 1.2 billion times, and is especially big among Generation Z.
- Here’s how to navigate through the TikTok app, including how you can create your own videos and follow along the latest trends.
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For teens around the world, the social media scene has seen a new app making its way to center stage in the last year: a short-form video platform called TikTok.
TikTok is a product of Chinese company ByteDance, and came to the U.S. in August 2018 after merging with the similar platform Musical.ly. Since it first launched in 2017, TikTok has garnered more than 1.2 billion downloads according to analyst firm Sensor Tower, and its popularity has skyrocketed as users — especially Gen Z — are increasingly turning to the video app as their go-to social platform.
If you need proof that TikTok is the wave of the future, look no further than Old Town Road, the mega-hit song of the summer, which got its start on the app.
TikTok doesn’t necessarily bring anything especially new to social media, but it brings together the most popular and Gen Z-adored features under one app: Vine‘s video snippets for copious amounts of content consumption; Instagram‘s user feeds for easily following influencers; Twitter‘s trending hashtags for keeping up with what’s going viral; and video game-inspired techniques for encouraging in-app spending.
Essentially, if you’re not already on TikTok (or at least familiar with it), you’re already behind.
Here’s how to use the TikTok app — from tracking the latest viral memes, to following the newest crop of influencers, and creating your own short-form video:
The first thing you’ll see upon opening the TikTok app is a feed of content from people you follow, similar to Instagram or Twitter. You’ll only see one video at a time, but you simply swipe up to continue through your feed and see more content.
My biggest gripe with TikTok is the setup of the feed, which can be especially daunting for first-time users. There are a lot of options in front of you and not a lot of direction.
It’s likely why I’ve heard from many people — particularly some of my curious, millennial-age colleagues — that when they first opened TikTok, they got so overwhelmed they never opened it again.
The TikTok home page, where your feed lives, is split up into two sections: "following," to only see content from users you follow, and "for you," which amasses popular content from across TikTok, similar to Instagram’s Explore page.
Switching between the two home feeds is as simple as swiping left and right — you’ll know which feed you’re on because the title will be bolded.
In order for TikTok content to end up in the "For You" feed, videos have to be posted with the hashtag "#foryou." More on video-posting later.
The second tab in the menu running across the bottom of TikTok, represented by a magnifying glass, is where you’ll find what’s trending on the app. This is TikTok’s bread and butter: it’s where the latest viral trends are found, and associated hashtags are tracked.
For anyone looking to capitalize on trending tags and viral memes in their next video, this search tab is the place to go. Having your video appear high in the results for a certain popular hashtag can get your content seen my millions, and potentially push you a bit more toward viral fame.
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