Clueless about TikTok? Here’s what you need to know

What on earth is TikTok, and why are there more than half a billion TikTok users worldwide?

Your little ones might be years away from having their own social media accounts like TikTok, and although teens and millennials are primary TikTok users, it’s an app for moms too. Really.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a free Chinese-owned social video-sharing app that you can download for iOS and Android. Users can shoot, edit, and share 15- to 60-second videos to which you can add music, text, filters, animation, special effects and more. Lip-synching is one of the more popular features that people can add to their videos.

@officialreesetiktokDeacon teaches me how to ##dap ? ##dapchallenge♬ original sound – officialreesetiktok

Like with other social apps, users can follow other users, and like and comment on other posts. You can browse and interact with other users’ content, which covers a wide range of topics, songs, and styles. These videos can be grouped by hashtags.

The content ranges from the random and ridiculous to the entertaining and educational, but it’s easy to get sucked in, and there are some awesome videos to make you laugh (much needed these days).

@ellendegeneresEveryone else recreating TikToks, me recreating TikToks. ##cheer♬ original sound – ellendegeneres

As with anything, the best way to learn more about it is to sign up and get started. At first, you’ll probably think that you’re looking at the strangest content ever, and you’ll feel ridiculous doing your own videos. Stick around for a bit longer though and you’ll likely find it fun (but it’s totally fine, too, if you want to give it a miss!)

“At first you’ll probably think that you’re looking at the strangest content ever, and you’ll feel ridiculous doing your own videos.”

TikTok content

  • TikTok trends/challenges: These are videos made up of people trying to do the same thing. One of the more recent challenges was Flip the Switch, set to Drake’s track Nonstop. The viral video includes two people standing in front of a mirror. One person stands closest to the mirror holding still while recording the video on their phone, while in the background, the other person dances to the music until Drake sings the opening lyric, ‘Look, I just flipped a switch’. This cue prompts the room’s light switch to be turned off and on and then shows the two participants have swapped outfits and positions during the transition.
  • Cringe videos: These videos aim to make people cringe with very awkward performances and scenarios. They’re embarrassing, funny and sometimes gross. 
  • TikTok duets: Users can add themselves to someone else’s video, with both videos appearing side by side on screen in a square format. 
  • React videos: Under the share option of someone’s video, users can choose ‘React’, and record their reaction while the video plays.

TikTok in times of the coronavirus

TikTok has partnered with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to create an informational page on TikTok that provides trustworthy information, offers tips on how to stay safe and prevent the spread of the virus, and dispels myths around COVID-19. The WHO will also use the TikTok account to create videos that give users important medical information and tips.

@jessicaalbaWhen you get Cringy at the end … wait for it♬ Over it Chinese New Year Remix by JohhnyG – kingvader

Other things to know about TikTok

Brands and companies are advertising on TikTok.

  • Popular TikTokers are earning thousands of dollars (close to $200 000, it’s believed) by collaborating with brands.
  • Aside from entertainment, TikTok also has tutorial videos – learn how to colour your hair, or take better photos.
  • In 2019, TikTok was the most downloaded app with over 33 million downloads on the app store.
  • TikTok’s instant success is its algorithm, which uses artificial intelligence to make personalised recommendations for viewers.
  • TikTok is the sixth-largest social network now.
  • The TikTok app has more than 1.65 billion downloads to date.
  • TikTok was installed more than 738 million times in 2019, making it the second most downloaded app of the year, surpassed only by WhatsApp.
  • TikTok’s highest performing videos range from an elephant toothpaste explosion to a caesarean section performed on a banana.
@sterlingkbrownA family that smeezes together… ##smeeze ##smeezechallenge ##thisisus @justinhartley @susankelechiwatson @chrissymetz

♬ She Gon Go – Trill Ryan