Unless you’ve been avoiding social media entirely, you’ve almost certainly heard of TikTok. It’s one of the most popular social platforms, especially among Gen Z users; at time of writing, TikTok has been downloaded 2.6 billion times, and that number is only set to increase as time goes on. If you haven’t used it before and you haven’t seen any content from it, you might be wondering exactly what TikTok is, and whether it’s worth having a presence on it. Here’s our guide to this rather nifty app, and how you can get started with it if you’re looking to become an influencer (or if you just want to make some fun videos!).
What exactly is TikTok?
You can think of TikTok as something of a spiritual successor to Vine. It’s a short-form video app that lets you make videos up to 1 minute long. Most users’ videos don’t reach that length, though; the average TikTok video is between 9 and 15 seconds, and those are the videos that tend to attract the highest viewership as well.
TikTok began its life as two different apps: the Chinese social platform Douyin and the lip-syncing social network Musical.ly. In 2018, Musical.ly was bought by Douyin owner ByteDance and rebranded to TikTok. Now, TikTok has become a social sensation; everyone wants to know the quickest way to amass a large amount of free TikTok followers and become a prominent influencer on the platform, so vast is its audience and reach.
What kind of videos do well on TikTok?
It’s impossible to predict exactly what’s going to do well and take off on TikTok. The platform has seen successes from diverse genres like magical illusions, dance challenges, and lip-syncing videos, as well as political screeds and musical instrument demos or tutorials. Like any other platform, we just don’t have a perfect, magic algorithm for what’s going to go viral on TikTok; you just have to make your video to the highest standard you can and hope for the best.
With that said, there are some kinds of videos that tend to perform better on TikTok than others. These are videos that take advantage of trending hashtags, videos that revolve around popular songs or dances, and content that adheres to the Completion Ratio principle, which refers to how often users get to the very end of your video before moving on. If you follow these rules, you’re more likely to get a video trending on TikTok.
Why should you sign up to TikTok?
So now you know what TikTok is, you might be asking yourself whether you should sign up to it or not. The answer is, in most cases, yes – it’s worth signing up to TikTok whether or not you’re planning to start a new career as an influencer. Here are just some of the reasons you may want to sign up.
The community is thriving
The TikTok community is one of the strongest in the social media world. It’s close-knit and supportive; you’re likely to find a lot of positive comments for the content you create, no matter what niche you inhabit. In addition, TikTok is much less tolerant of things like abuse, body-shaming, and misgendering than many other social platforms are; you’re likely to find your community niche whoever you happen to be.
It brings out your creative side
Working within TikTok’s limitations is a great way to bring out your creative side. Videos can only be a certain length, and although there is an extensive editing suite included, it’s not comprehensive by any means. That means you’ll have to get creative when it comes to crafting your content, and working within those boundaries can result in some fascinating workarounds and solutions for problems. If you think Twitter and Facebook are a little too stifling, TikTok may well be the platform for you.
You can keep up with trends
You can bet that if memes or trends emerge, they probably got their start on TikTok. If you’re a brand looking to leverage those trends for some exposure – or if you’re an influencer wanting to build your following – then it’s pretty much essential for you to be on TikTok. You can see what’s trending through a simple search, and you can include your content within that trend just by adding the hashtag to the description.
The For You algorithm is magic
Much has been made of the uncanny accuracy of TikTok’s For You algorithm, and it’s true – if you’ve ever been on the app, you’ll know just how eerily prescient it is when it comes to knowing what kind of content you want to view. If you want a feed that feels like it’s been curated just for you (hence the name), then TikTok’s AI algorithm really does need to be seen to be believed. Sometimes, it will introduce you to new kinds of content you didn’t even know you liked before you saw it!
Signing up is easy, and you can integrate profiles from other platforms
If you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to Facebook, Twitter et al, TikTok won’t force you to. When you sign up – through a process that really couldn’t be simpler – TikTok will allow you to connect your profiles from other platforms, meaning you can automatically post content cross-platform. This comes in handy when you’re an influencer and you need to make sure that you’ve got as many eyes on your content as possible, but it’s also great just for helping your content go that little bit further if you’re a regular user.