Explainer

What is TikTok and How Do You Use it?

If you’ve been asking the question, “what is TikTok,” it’s time to find out. We explain what it is, how to use it, and where it’s available.

You may have seen (or heard about) something called TikTok on the App Store, Google Play, in an ad, or mentioned by a friend. But what is TikTok exactly?

We’ll explain what TikTok is, the features it offers, how to use the basics, where you can use it, and how much it costs. For everything you need to get started on TikTok or just to answer questions about it, let’s get to it!

What is TikTok?

Owned by Chinese company ByteDance, TikTok is a social video-sharing application available on mobile devices as well as the web. In China, the almost identical app is known as Douyin which launched in 2016. TikTok launched internationally in 2017.

With the mobile app, users can capture and share videos. This is the ideal use for the mobile app although you can also follow other users, check out your feed packed with videos, interact with likes and comments, and more. To date, TikTok has been downloaded over 130 million times in the United States alone.

On the TikTok website, you can watch videos, find others to follow, and check our account stats like “likes” and comments for your videos. If you have a video saved to your computer, you can also upload it via the website. This is handy for videos you’ve saved previously or spent time editing on your computer.

You’ll find everyone from teens to adults to celebrities on TikTok sharing videos. And those videos range from comedy and cooking to education and entertainment.

TikTok Mission

TikTok Features

TikTok offers a wide range of features. Most you’d expect to see in a video-sharing application, but we’ll list out a summary of the basics.

  • Record videos using the in-app camera or upload a video from your device. Videos can be 15 or 60 seconds long using the app’s recording feature. Uploaded videos can be longer than 60 seconds.
  • Add music, sound, filters, and effects to your videos to make them stand out.
  • Use in-app video editing tools to trim, cut, merge, or duplicate clips.
  • Explore videos in your personalized feed and discover new hosts and videos in a variety of categories.
  • Contribute gifts using in-app currency (coins) to others broadcasting live videos to support your favorite hosts.
  • Adjust settings in the mobile app for push notifications, dark mode, content preferences, preferred language, privacy, two-step verification, and security alerts.

How to Use TikTok

Whether you’re ready to record a video, discover something new, or interact with likes or comments, here are those essentials to get you started on the TikTok mobile app. It all starts by creating an account.

Sign Up for TikTok

You have a few easy ways to sign up for TikTok in the mobile app or online. You can use any of the following.

  • Phone or email
  • Facebook account
  • Apple account
  • Google account
  • Twitter account

Sign Up for TikTok on the Web

After signing up, you can create a profile to include a photo, name, username, and bio. You can also add Instagram or YouTube to your profile if you like.

How to Record a Video on TikTok

  1. Tap the plus sign at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Select 60s or 15s for the recording length at the bottom.
  3. Optionally, you can add sound, include effects, flip the camera, adjust the speed, enable beauty mode, apply a filter, set a timer, and turn on the flash. You can do any of these things before recording.
  4. Tap the red capture button to start recording. As you record, you’ll see the progress at the top for the number of seconds you selected.
  5. When time is up, you’ll see your video preview. You can then use the tools at the bottom to add Sounds, Effects, Text, or Stickers. Or check out the tools along the side for Filters, Adjust clips, Voice effects, or Voiceover.
  6. Tap Next when you’re done.
  7. Make any further adjustments you’d like before posting your video. Add a description, hashtags, or mentions, decide who can see your video, and if you want to allow comments, save the video to your device, and automatically share it to connected social media accounts.
  8. Hit Post to share your video or Drafts to save and finish later.

Record and Post a Video on TikTok

Discover New Videos

You have a couple of handy spots for checking out the videos TikTok has to offer.

Home Tab

You’ll find your personalized feed on the Home tab. At the top, select either Following or For You. Swipe up to scroll to the next video. Tap to pause and tap again to continue playing any video.

Home Tab in the TikTok Mobile App

Discover Tab

On the Discover tab, you’ll see Trends, Sounds, and a Search box at the top.

  • Trends show you popular videos by hashtag, effect, or sound. Swipe to the right to see more videos on the category and tap to watch one.
  • Sounds give you popular sounds others have used in their videos. Select one and then tap a video to watch. If you like a particular sound, tap the bookmark icon to hold onto it.
  • The Search box is a convenient way to find a particular user, sound, or hashtag.

Discover Tab in the TikTok Mobile App

Like, Comment, or Share a Video

You can interact with videos you find by liking, commenting, or sharing them. These options display on the right side as the video plays.

Tap the heart to like it, the comment icon to view comments or add your own, or the arrow to share the video to other social media locations, save it, or add it to your favorites.

Interact in the TikTok Mobile App

Availability and Cost

TikTok is available for free with no subscriptions but does offer in-app purchases for coins. Remember, the coins are an in-app currency that you can use to contribute gifts to those broadcasting live videos.

You can use the app on iPhone, Android, and the TikTok website.

Will You Try TikTok?

There is a lot more to TikTok than what we’ve included here. But you should now know exactly what it is, what it offers, what you can do with it, and where you can use it.

Be sure to check back with groovyPost for future articles about TikTok! In the meantime, have a look at other articles in our “What is” series like What is Pocket, What is Telegram, or What is SoundCloud.

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