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What is TikTok, and How Does it Work?

TikTok might seem like just an app for teenagers to share dance trends or challenges, but it’s quickly become one of the best and biggest platforms for anyone to use, including small businesses and large corporations to reach millions of viewers far easier and more efficiently than on any current platforms – with less time taken to make longer videos or large amounts of promotional money spent.

Duolingo and Corsair are great examples of using TikTok to their advantage to help with their businesses and gain more eyes on their products. 

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a social media video sharing app that allows a user to upload photos or videos, make their own videos, and use the in-app editing options to create almost anything you can put your mind to. There are amazing creators from every genre and interest you can think of. From brands such aWindows, to a multitude of every fandom you could think of, such as the community-based SCP Foundation and all of the creators that entails – there is something for everything on TikTok, and the 30+ year old crowd might feel they don’t belong, but a few minutes spent on the app and users will find that they’ve taken over this platform.

Is TikTok free?

Yes! TikTok is a free app that anyone can download and start using for free. You can pay for ad spaced, as with any other platform, but to post and interact with other accounts it’s completely free to use.

Record companies and businesses can pay for ads and pushing their content that way for users to see, but that is entirely optional. TikTok has a large reach for everyone and it’s quite easy to gain views simply using hashtags and trending sounds/music.

How does TikTok work?

TikTok works by allowing users to create their own videos within the app. You can also create video or photo collages outside of the application and upload it separately. Signing up is free and easy – just using an email address, phone number, or a third-party login such as Facebook, Instagram, or Google.

Once you’re in, you can search for popular creators, use hashtags to find videos in something you’d like to see, such as art or music, comedy, pets, etc. There are categories as well that compile a lot of those together in one easy to find place.

What is a TikTok challenge?

TikTok challenges are generally created by users to get their videos viral with trending hashtags and it will snowball with other users as they join in, and challenges become well-known throughout the app or even in daily life if it gets to be so big it makes the news.

A lot of TikTok challenges can become viral and be for good causes, examples of similar challenges are the Ice Bucket Challenge that was extremely popular among celebrities, musicians, and everyone else in the summer of 2014 to raise money for ALS in the United States.

How to make TikTok videos?

Using TikTok to make videos couldn’t be easier with everything ready to go within the app itself. It does have a learning curve to get used to transitions, how to do them, and finding audio or songs to lip-sync and creating sketches of your own – much like Vine, but with more options and longer video limits.

Our short photo guide below can help you get started:

1. Open the TikTok app and press the + sign on the bottom of your screen to being making a video of your own.

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2. Choose whether you want to do a Quick video, or if you tap on the Camera to the left on the bottom, you can choose between 15 seconds, 60 seconds, or 3 minutes. You don’t need to fill in the full time for these – it’s just the allotted time you have for recording. 

There are options here as well for using Effects, Filters, a helpful Timer for when your camera starts recording so that you don’t need to manually hit the button to start and end so you can get into place, etc. Adding sounds is as easy as tapping on the top where it says, ‘Add sound’, and you’ll see all the options available to you.

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3. Record your video however you’d like and click Next. 

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4. Add in your caption, add hashtags, chose your settings and then you’re all done once you hit Post! You can also save your videos into Drafts to post as a later time. Which is a smart idea if you’d like to do batches to post over a time, so that you’re not stuck having to make videos every single day. 

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Accessing and using TikTok Live

Once you reach 1,000 Followers you’ll be allowed to join in and create your own TikTok LIVE sessions. Much like streaming on other platforms, Lives allow you to chat in real time with your followers, friends, and interact more. Users over the age of 18 can receive Gift points that will accumulate over time into actual money you can cash out!

  • Going Live after you’ve posted a new video is a great practice to try, as anyone that sees your video will see that you’re Live and can just click straight into it and join.
  • Be sure that your internet connection is stable and consistent, as it is a livestream, and it can impact your video quality and ability to have a good Live experience – for both you and your followers that are joining in to comment or be a Guest.
  • TikTok allows users to add up to 20 Moderators for their Lives, so if you have friends you trust to mod your streams when you go on – feel free to do so! You can also moderate yourself with the ability to filter comments, block users, and mute users as well if they’re trolling or being otherwise disruptive.

Going Live is a great way to enhance engagement and reach even more users, which is great for a brand, band, small or large business – or if you’re just wanting to join a community and make new friends, there is genuinely something for everyone on the app.

Has TikTok been banned anywhere?

India and Pakistan have banned TikTok, while Indonesia, Bangladesh, and the United States have attempted to but weren’t allowed/able to do so.

TikTok remains free to use and is available in other countries.

What is the most viewed TikTok?

Zach King’s Harry Potter flying video has a recorded 2.2 billion views – and for good reason. It’s funny and his editing skills are fantastic. His illusion videos are the highest viewed and liked on the platform.

What does the chair emoji mean on TikTok?

The chair emoji in TikTok is another passing trend that replaced the laughing emoji with a chair. User blank.antho posted to change it in a video and it of course caught on. Comments on videos from every genre and subject were flooded with chair emojis instead of laughing ones. 

What is the best time to post on TikTok?

The best part about TikTok is that you can post videos whenever you’d like, and they’ll still get seen by your followers. There are better times to post than others, but it isn’t as strict as other social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook. In your account you can see your analytics and from there determine what your best time to post is – such as planning around your most watched country followers, and it can even show your Followers trends at specific times.

Can you make money on TikTok?

Creators can make money on TikTok through the Creator Fund that takes some work/effort to get into. The amount you receive from the fund varies depending on your number of views, the authenticity of those views, and level of engagement.

The payout is less than what Youtubers would make based off views alone, but there are different avenues to pursue depending on what you want to do on the platform. Music labels can gain from all the sales and views the platform brings, brands can make money from partnerships with the app itself, and individual users can make money through the Creator Fund and during Lives, users can receive Gifts from anyone watching, from a few cents’ worth to $50 or more.

Who are the most followed people on TikTok?

The most followed people on TikTok as of this article are Charli D’AmelioZach KingWill SmithTikTok itself, and others such as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ JohnsonBTS, and JoJo Siwa. 

TikTok vs YouTube: What’s the difference?

TikTok and YouTube are very different platforms. They both have users post videos that others can comment, like, follow, and subscribe to but in general the main differences between the platforms are:

  • YouTube videos are generally uploaded as already finished products that were recorded using a separate camera, other software, and edited using something like Adobe Premiere, etc. and then uploaded onto YouTube that hosts it. Titles and descriptions are added in YouTube. 
  • TikTok’s are usually filmed with your phone and edited within the app itself using its effects, sounds, and filters. While YouTube videos aim to be ten minutes and above in terms of length, TikTok’s are anywhere from one second to three minutes. Individual clips can be edited and trimmed in the app as well and once posted, they can be Stitched or Duetted by other users. (If you have that turned on)

What are the best tips for TikTok success?

Tips for success on TikTok are to be consistent and find your niche within the app. Post reviews, video games, cosplays, react to other user videos, and generally have fun with it. Consistency is key and using the correct hashtags is important.

For example, if you’re looking to do videos that are cosplaying as a character like Spiderman and reacting to other videos or using sounds, if you post multiple times a day and use hashtags such as #Spiderman, #Marvel, etc. then you will more than likely hit a target audience that will follow you and you’ll gain success quickly.

  • Be genuine! Even if you’re portraying a character or posting about your day to day life or work – be yourself and don’t try too hard to be something you’re not.
  • Be enthusiastic (unless the character you’re portraying isn’t, of course)
  • Just have fun with it all. It’s there as entertainment first and if you’re not feeling it or having fun – your audience will pick up on it. Don’t put pressure on yourself and do what makes you happy sharing.
  • Take breaks. You don’t have to be available to post TikToks every single day if you don’t want to or can’t. Burnout is a very real problem with content creating, especially when you feel like you need to make videos constantly and always have fresh, new posts. Take care of yourself as well.

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Updated date

April 21st, 2022

About the author

Nikki Lyka

Nikki Lyka is a reviewer and writer at Rank-It.ca that’s written about a variety of subjects from the best fantasy novels to travel guides and blogs. When she isn’t researching and typing up a storm, she’s generally found winding down with tea, video games, practicing aerial hoop, photography, and reading good horror novels.
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