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A beginner’s guide to TikTok

It’s 2020. Why aren’t you on TikTok yet?  OK, there are some very valid reasons to avoid using the app, including the extensive user data collection that nearly every social media app employs. But if you’re getting your TikTok content as reposts of tweets on Instagram meme accounts, it might be time to go straight…

It’s 2020. Why aren’t you on TikTok yet? 

OK, there are some very valid reasons to avoid using the app, including the extensive user data collection that nearly every social media app employs. But if you’re getting your TikTok content as reposts of tweets on Instagram meme accounts, it might be time to go straight to the source and download the TikTok app yourself. 

Here’s a handy guide on how to use TikTok for anyone just getting started on the social media platform. 

Make an account

You can find the TikTok app on the App Store and on Google Play. 

The first thing you’ll see when you open TikTok is its infamous For You Page.

You don’t really need an account to use TikTok, but if you want to be able to mold your For You Page to start showing you content, well, for you, you’ll have to make an account. Until then, the landing page will just show you the most popular videos at the moment.

To make an account, go to the “Me” tab in the far bottom right corner of the screen. There, TikTok will prompt you to sign up with your phone or email. You can also link your account through Facebook, Apple, Google, Twitter, and Instagram. 

A beginner's guide to TikTok

Image: screenshot via tiktok

A beginner's guide to TikTok

Image: screenshot via tiktok

Once you create your account, you’re on your way to becoming a TikTok influencer. The app will assign you a generated username, such as user9876543, but you can change your username, profile photo, bio, and link your TikTok account to your other social accounts under “Edit Profile” in the “Me” tab. 

The For You Page 

Now that you’re an official TikTok user, let’s go back to the For You Page.

As you engage with the video clips on the page more, it’ll shape to your interests over time. The more you like, share, comment, or linger on a certain kind of TikTok video, the more of that content the app will show you. 

Your For You Page will probably be pretty generic for your first few days on the platform. To get to the content that appeals to your niche interests, you’ll have to either specifically search out the kind of content you like in the search bar under the “Discover” tab, or swipe through the For You Page and engage with the videos you enjoy. 

WATCH: Is TikTok secretly a dating app?

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TikTok kept the details of its For You Page under wraps until this year, when it released information about it in an effort to be more transparent after the U.S. government raised concerns over the app’s privacy. According to TikTok, the For You Page first shows content to a small group of users. If they interact favorably — liking, sharing, commenting, or even watching the video in its entirety instead of just swiping — the app will show that video to a larger group. If that group interacts favorably, the app will show the video to an even larger group. That continues until the video is certifiably viral. 

Liking, Commenting, and Sharing

To interact with a TikTok video you like that you want to see more of, engage with the icons on the right hand side of the screen. The icons are relatively intuitive. From top to bottom, they’re “Follow,” “Like,” “Comment,” “Share,” and “Sound.” 

A beginner's guide to TikTok

Image: tiktok / bellapoarch

If you want to see more content from a specific TikTok creator, hit that follow button. If you just want to show your support, like a video. If you want to share a TikTok video with friends, tap “Share.” 

When you tap “Share” the app will prompt you to either send it to your mutuals — someone you follow who follows you back — through TikTok’s internal DM feature, copy the link, or share it directly with your followers on your linked social media accounts (like Instagram and Twitter).

You can also save the video directly to your phone, use the effect yourself, duet the video (more about that in a moment), or bookmark it to your Favorites. If you’d like to avoid seeing duets of a certain video, tap “Not Interested.” You can also report a TikTok video if you don’t think it adheres to the app’s Community Guidelines.

A beginner's guide to TikTok

Image: tiktok / bellapoarch

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Eric Adams. Source: A screenshot, Instagram/ericadamsfornyc
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