TikTok is the fastest growing social media channel with more than a billion active users.
It is a video-sharing platform that allows users to create short videos that run anywhere between 5 seconds to 10 minutes. The videos will almost always feature a sound—music clips or original audio—which creators can edit to suit their needs. The app provides hundreds of lively filters, live streams, tipping opportunities, and other features to play around with.
Your use of the app powers the famous TikTok algorithm. As you scroll, like, comment, and share the videos the For You page—TikTok’s homepage—presents, the more the app figures out exactly what you want to see, making the experience highly curated to you and your interests (however niche)!
How you engage with TikTok content sets TikTok apart from other social media platforms. TikTok’s algorithm serves up content based on factors such as videos a user has previously engaged with or something they’ve posted, not just posts from people they follow.
Instagram provides a polished feed curated by the account owner. However, users go to TikTok looking for something unexpected, authentic or fun; and TikTok’s algorithm very much curates your feed.
First, you’ll need to download the App at either the iOS App Store or Google Play.
Once downloaded, open the app and hit Sign Up, which you can do by filling in your email address and password (or using your Google, Twitter, Facebook, or Apple accounts).
Once you’re in, the app will ask you to choose your interests and gives you a generic username with a number. You will be able to change this if you head over to your Profile and click Edit Profile. Here you can update your Username, add a Bio and select a Profile Picture. You can also link to your Instagram account and YouTube if you wish.
For You Page
As soon as you’ve set up an account, The app will present the For You page (FYP). It’ll show you a conveyor belt of content, an infinite stream of videos waiting for you to swipe past, watch, or engage with. The more you use the app, the more the algorithm will become attuned to your likes and interests, only showing you the content it knows you want to see.
The Discover page (the small compass on the bottom of the screen) lets you see what hashtags, videos, or creators are trending. This will also be curated to your interests as you use the app. You’ll see popular sounds, hashtags, and effects that might inspire your next TikTok video.
Here are the basic steps to create and post a video on TikTok.
Open the TikTok app onto the FYP and head to the colorful Create (“+”) button on the console at the bottom middle of the screen. This will take you to the TikTok video creation screen, giving you various options to Add sounds, effects, filters, and more to your video.
The large red button in the middle of the screen will allow you to shoot a Quick video (up to 15 seconds) but if you toggle left to the Camera tab, you’ll have the option to shoot for up to 10 minutes (on iPhone) or 3 minutes (on Android).
Once you have recorded your video and you’re happy with the results, you’ll be taken to the Edit screen. Here you will be able to add text, stickers, effects, and adjust the clip and privacy settings. You can also scan a video for audio which will appear as captions when it is published. Captions help make your content more accessible.
Now that you have your video recorded, effects, text, and sound you can go ahead to the Post screen.
To help your video reach the FYP of its target audience, you can use hashtags to summarize the content or for comedic effect. Most savvy creators will also check what hashtags are trending and add them to a video to boost reach. Mention or tag (@[username]) anyone else who features.
You can also control the privacy settings; who can see your video, can it be downloaded, can it be duetted or stitched, video quality, etc.
You can select a cover for your video, which will help users browsing the content on your profile find videos they may find interesting.
You can save it to your Drafts to share or edit later, but once you hit Post your TikTok will be landing on the For You page of potentially millions of other users!
Knowing how to use TikTok effectively is knowing how to use the Duet and Stitch features. These allow creators to reply to content, adding their own creative spin or a smart rebuke to any video that offers the option to do so.
The Duet feature allows your video to be recorded at the same time another video plays in a split screen.
The Stitch feature ‘stitches’ up to 5 seconds of an existing video together with your video reply, to create a brand new video.
To use these features, hit the Share arrow on the bottom right of any video. This will give you many options to share the video through the app or externally to Instagram, Whatsapp, etc. Along the bottom row of icons you will see two which say Duet or Stitch. Hit the one you want to use and record your video as normal. Once your Duet or Stitch is ready, you can go ahead and repeat the steps above to share it to your profile.
TikTok’s sounds feature is the backbone of the app. Whether it’s a viral hit (literally anything Doja Cat has ever released) launching a thousand dance routines or a random Original Sound that’s taken off (“piggy dippin’ at the piggy pond”), TikTok sounds inspire trends and nurture creativity.
There are two ways to access the sounds you might want to use in your videos.
From the FYP. As you’re browsing the app, you might come across sounds you want to use. You can add that sound to your video by hitting the name of the sound at the bottom of the screen.
Doing this takes you to a page filled with all the videos that use that piece of audio, and a large red button at the bottom of this page will prompt you to ‘Use this sound.’ This is where you can also save a sound to your Favorites. Once selected, you’ll go to the video creation screen and the sound will play as you record your clip.
Add sound. If you’re looking for a specific sound, find it by heading to the Create screen to film a new video. At the very top of the screen, you’ll see the option for ‘Add sound.’ This will take you to a page where you can discover trending TikTok sounds and access your Favorites. You can also search for specific audios using the Search function at the top of the page.
If you are familiar with the basics of Instagram, you’ll already understand what Filters do. Filters enhance your content by adding a pre-set color layer over your original video, giving the content a new feel or improving the overall viewing experience.
To use Filters on TikTok, start creating a new video, and you’ll see the Filters option available on the right side of the screen. Here you can scroll through a bunch of pre-made filters and preview them to use over the top of your video. If you forget to add a Filter to your video while recording, don’t worry! When you edit your content you can swipe right on the screen to scroll through all the available filters and choose one that works for you.
Similar to the Sounds feature, TikTok has a library of hundreds of Effects that you can use alongside your content (or even just to give yourself a beard)! The combo of Effects and Sounds on TikTok are what create some of the app’s most viral trends.
To access TikTok Effects, head to the create screen to start recording a new video. On the bottom left, you’ll see an option to add Effects. This will bring up all the Effects available—and there are a lot. Scroll to search for the Effect you want, or use the Search function if you know the name.
You can also access the Effect you want to use directly from another video and add it to your Favorites, so you don’t lose it. To do this, tap the Effect’s name on the video you’re watching, and like Sounds, you’ll be taken to a page that features all the videos that use that Effect. Hit Use Effect to start recording a video, or add it to your Favorites.
TikTok’s Green Screen takes from the traditional green screen used in film and TV and makes this clever GCI effect available to everyone through the app. The feature allows users to add whatever image, video, or GIF they want to the background of a video. They have now added an entire section of their Effects page devoted to different kinds of green screen effects. Access this via the Effects tab and scroll along the top until you see the Green Screen section.
To use the Green Screen Effect, create a new video and tap the Effects tab on the bottom left of the screen. Green screen is one of TikTok’s most popular effects, so you should have no problem finding it on the Trending tab. You can also search for Green Screen in the Search bar.
To upload an image as your background, tap the button titled Greenscreen with an icon of an image with a downward arrow. This will bring up a stock image of a cobbled street, and when your front-facing camera is switched on, you should be able to see your face over it.
Tapping this button will also bring up your phone’s image library to choose which background you wish to add. Once you’ve set your background, hit record to film your TikTok as usual.
To upload a video as your background, tap the button titled Greenscreen-video—this icon looks like a play button with an arrow pointing up. This will bring up a stock image of a Christmas fireplace. Follow the same process.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking on camera, TikTok’s text-to-speech function is a great option for making your content clear and concise. This great little tool will read aloud any text you add to your video.
To access TikTok’s text-to-speech function, open the app and start creating a video as you usually would. After shooting your footage, head to the Edit screen and tap the Text button to the right of the screen.
Type out the text you want to include on your video in any style you want, and place it where you would like it on the video. Once you’re happy, click on the finished text, and you’ll see three options: Edit, Duration, and Text-To-Speech.
Choose the text-to-speech option and wait for your text to be processed. When you play your video back, you’ll hear that familiar Siri-like robot voice reading your text out loud.
When you start posting videos to TikTok, the app won’t automatically tell you anything beyond likes and views unless you ask it to. If you really want a more in-depth analysis of how to use TikTok to track reach and engagement, you’ll need to turn on the analytics function.
To do this, head to your Profile and look for the three horizontal lines in the top right corner of the screen. Click on them and tap on Creator Tools. In the General section, you’ll see the Analytics option.
After you turn this on, TikTok will start tracking all your content. After 24 hours of the video going live, you’ll be able to see where in the world your views are coming from and how they are reaching you (through the FYP or directly from your profile).
The main analytics page in Creator Tools will also break down your audience by gender and give a general overview of how well your content has performed over the last seven days.
The analytics function is your best friend if you’re growing a brand or business using TikTok. It will provide you with key insights into your audience and help you see clearly what’s working and what isn’t.
Learn more about TikTok’s analytics here.
Choose a Niche – There’s an audience on TikTok for everything, and right there resides the power of TikTok. If you consistently share niche content, your desired audience will eventually find it and you can start building a strong community that extends beyond the platform. To help you find your niche you need to do your TikTok research, spend time scrolling on the app, look at what your competitors or brands in similar categories are doing and define your content plan to make your mark.
Jump on the Trends – Trends are at the center of TikTok content; they come and go quickly, but gather most of the views and allow brands to have some fun and get creative. Just adapt them to your brand and monitor engagement to assess what works best for your audience. TikTok provides a weekly summary on the Explore page where you can see what’s trending in your country, including songs & sounds and creative effects.
Tell a Good Story – The key to success in TikTok (or any other social media platform) is to tell a good story. First, plan out your story or the problem you are solving for your customers, then plan your video accordingly and use overlay text to facilitate comprehension. If the audience is watching the video with the sound off, text will help them follow the story and engage with it.
Authenticity is key, especially when you are starting out on the app. And remember that TikTok is all about having fun, so keep that in mind when creating content.
Research and use Hashtags – People discover content through hashtags, so it’s essential to research what hashtags your audience follows and use hashtags to find ideas and inspiration for your brand. You can also create your own hashtag to generate buzz around a specific topic and start building your own community.
Work with Influencers or Content Creators – Similar to Instagram or Facebook, users follow and engage with TikTok influencers. Brand engagement is relatively low but slowly increasing with every hashtag campaign. TikTok has invested in its users with the Creator Fund to help them monetize their best content and you can check out TikTok’s Marketplace to find the best talent to produce videos for your brand. Marketplace allows innovative video creators who meet specific criteria (age, followers, video content and engagement) to collaborate with brands on paid campaigns. Find out more about Marketplace here.
In addition, you can extend your brand’s reach by working with relevant influencers who love your brand and share your values. Your brand doesn’t necessarily need to film its own content if you organize a group of reliable micro or nano influencers. In exchange for a monetary amount, they can talk about your product on their page, post it in the video description, or link it to your brand in their account’s description.
Follow Similar Creators – Following and engaging with your favorite like-minded creators can boost your content and help it land on the For You pages of your desired audience. For businesses trying to reach new customers, liking and commenting with other similar small businesses and creators tells the app that this is the side of TikTok you want to reach.
Receive news and announcements from Palm Springs straight to your inbox