Your Little Sister/Daughter is Obsessed with TikTok (What You Need to Know)!

Plus, how you can make your own videos on TikTok!

August 6, 2019

TikTok kicked off the month of August by celebrating ‘One Year of TikTok’ and encouraged users to create videos to help them celebrate! It’s an app that your daughter or younger sister is likely obsessed with or talks about with her friends.

If you’ve spent even 20 minutes on the app, you have likely have noticed how young many of the people in the videos look. TikTok is also that app that got a lot of extra attention on Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” and Blanco Brown’s “The Git Up”; many videos are also done with hot songs by Billie Eilish!

Personally, I downloaded the app out of curiosity and it may have been a account originally (which was acquired by TikTok a year ago). I didn’t start making videos until March of this year and I’ve made over 100 videos in about 5 months. Some of my videos got way more attention than I could have ever expected and somehow I’ve gained nearly 20,000 followers (look me up @JMattMke).

What is TikTok

TikTok is largely a video app (available for both iOS and Android users) and the latest form of social media to become wildly popular amongst kids (and even adults). Videos could be anything from lip-syncing to quick dance routines to comedy skits to failed trend attempts. TikTok encourages you to ‘make every second count’ by creating quick entertaining videos (can be anywhere from 3-60 seconds long, but often, shorter the better).

Who is on TikTok

Everyone. Okay, not literally everyone. It definitely skews to the younger audience of Gen Z and Millennials – which you can see as you watch videos on the For You Page or based on those that comment “first” and most often on the app. But you will occasionally see videos from older adults and parents that want to see what all the hype is (or connect with their kids).

How to Use TikTok

While you can download the app and watch videos without creating an account, you can’t like or follow accounts without setting one up. It’ll automatically give you a random handle (i.e. @user12345) and you can change that in the settings after.

Once you open the app (logged in or not), you’ll be taken to the For You Page (FYP), this is the main feed crafted just for… you – similar to what shows up for you when you open Instagram or Facebook. But often time it’s populated with videos from people that you don’t follow and have millions of views.

Videos will automatically play with audio (even if your phone is on mute), so if you’re at work or a quiet place when you open the app, you’ll want to make sure your phone’s volume is down (if not wearing headphones). These are ‘real short videos’, so before you realize it, you could be scrolling through videos for 20 minutes (or dare I say longer).

If you don’t like a video style – is it just someone staring at the camera for 15 seconds? Push and hold your finger on the video and a few options will pop up, including “Not Interested” and you’ll see fewer videos like it on the For You Page.

A lot of the videos will make you feel like “I can do that!” and let’s be real, outside of the elaborate videos with special effects (or the dance routines in my case) – you probably could do it too. It wasn’t long until I tried making a few videos to see what the app was all about.

Making Videos for TikTok

There are a few ways to make videos. You can tap the + icon at the bottom of the For You Page which will allow you to make a brand-new video! From here it depends on what you want to make (I highly encourage that you make vertical videos for TikTok).

  • Lip-syncing: Select the sound that you want to lip sync to and you can slow down the audio by 2x or 3x to make it much easier to match with what you’re lip-syncing to. When you finish recording, it will play the video at normal speed.
    • By the way, lip-syncing isn’t just for music, many do it to spoken word or something funny a kid said.
  • Effects: Similar to Snapchat or stories on Instagram, you can add face filters or other fun effects to videos that you’re creating. My current favorite is the “big head” mode that reminds me of NBA Jam!
  • Timer: If you want to make a video hands-free, set the 3-second timer (you can also set a stopping point if you want multiple shots) and get into position before the recording starts.
  • Upload: If you made a video off the app (I do it all the time), you can upload the clips and trim them with TikTok. (Note: if you upload clips from your phone, you can’t record new clips in addition to that with TikTok’s app)
  • Duet: This is a popular video style where one user makes a new video based on someone else’s video, creating a fun and often clever collaboration. You’ll also see cosplayers (people dressed in the costume of their favorite characters) leverage this style a lot.
    • This is one of the few TikToks that you can’t do from the + icon, you need tap the right arrow on the TikTok you’re watching then select “Duet” in the options (some duets are disabled by the creator) – it will then open a video recorder for you to create your ‘duet’ with the video.
  • Reaction: Similar to Duets, to access this option you need to select the right arrow on the TikTok and select React – a small rectangle will pop up that you can move to a new location and you… react to the video you’re watching.

After you either upload or create your video on TikTok, it’s time to add your edits.

  • Select Sound: You can add music to your video, even if you’re not lip-syncing or dancing… many trends are based on audio. You can skip this if you’re creating original audio.
    • If you have a public account and upload original audio (like yourself talking), others can select the audio and lip-sync to it.
  • Effects: typically works well with transitions between clips but you have 5 categories to select from – Visual, Effects, Transition, Split, and Time. Definitely poke around in here to add a little extra flare to your videos.
  • Text: this is newer, you can add text to your videos directly on the app (previously, creators would add text via Snapchat or a similar app and upload to TikTok) – you can change the style and color of the text. After you write out your text, you can adjust the size and set the timing for the text to appear on the video.
  • Volume: worth pointing out, on the right of your screen tap the down arrow and select volume, this allows you to mute the recorded audio – which comes in handy if you’re trying to just use a selected sound.
  • Stickers: This is the most recent update, TikTok partnered with GIPHY which allows you to add GIFs to your videos! Like Text, you can resize and set the specific timing that the GIF appears on your video.

After you make all of your edits, tap ‘next’ and this is your last screen before it’s posted. You have 100 characters to add hashtags, tag people, or just give the context of your post. You should also select a cover from the video. All set? Hit ‘Post’ and it’s live!

Is TikTok Safe?

There is always a ‘risk’ when it comes to creating an account on social media, you never know what will be shown on the For You Page and you can’t control who will find your public account. The app is intended for users of at least 13-years-old and older while encouraging anyone under the age of 18 to have approval from a parent or guardian.

If you’d like to scroll but not be bothered by random people, you can always create a ‘Private Account’ via the settings. In fact, there are several options within “Privacy and Settings” which can impact how people interact with you, like disabling comments (a great option if you’d like to keep your account public).

Who Should I Follow on TikTok?

The app is a lot more fun when you follow creators that regularly make videos that you enjoy! So, here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • @ZachKing: Zach is the master of illusion and you’ve likely already seen his magical videos outside of TikTok.
  • @JasonCoffee: He’s a DAD that spends quality time by creates videos with his family, most with two of his kids.
  • @OfficialHowieMandel: Howie Mandel recently found his way onto the app and his videos are just as awkwardly funny as you’d expect.
  • @LIZZZA: Liza Koshy is back from the days of Vine and has maintained her digital clout even though that app went away. She hasn’t skipped a beat with her funny videos on TikTok.
  • @Cash.Baker + @MaverickBaker: They’re brothers that appear frequently on the For You Page, always on top of the latest trends and represent the younger creators of TikTok well.
  • @JMattMke: Okay, of course, I’m going to add myself to the list – you should also follow @KISSmilwaukee (yes, 103.7 KISS-FM has an account too)!

Whether you create an account or not, follow these accounts or not, TikTok is the new popular app on the rise and won’t be going anywhere any time soon. I’m excited to see where the app is in a year from now! Hit me up about TikTok any time on social media at @JMattMke (same handle on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok)!