"OK... so how do I actually use TikTok?" A step-by-step guide to the app everyone's talking about.


If you’ve been doing the right thing and self-isolating, there’s a good chance that your screen time has increased by at least seven hours a day, and you’ve probably heard of an app called ‘TikTok’.

I’ve been using TikTok for a couple of months now and guarding my account with my life, fearing that my colleagues would discover the videos of me dancing in my bedroom. Well, not anymore. Everyone is on TikTok, and anyone with shares in the app is doing a celebratory renegade right now (don’t worry – I’ll explain, keep reading).

So, as Mamamia’s (un)official TT expert, I’m going to give you the rundown and expose myself for the TikTok stan that I am.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a video-sharing platform where over one billion users create 15-60 second dance, lip-sync, comedy, and talent videos. Remember Vine (RIP)? It’s a little like that.

How do I get TikTok?

Simple. Go to your nearest app store, download the app and create an account. You don’t have to be a creator*, you can absolutely stick to being a spectator.
*Side note: most people set out with the intention to be a viewer, but in two weeks you’ll be learning a viral dance from a 14-year-old.

How do I know what TikToks to watch?

TikTok has two different feeds that you can watch, and you can toggle between them up the top of your screen.

  • The ‘Following’ feed is simple: it will only show you the videos uploaded by the users you follow – it’s like Instagram, you can follow creators you want to see more from.
  • The ‘For You’ feed will show you videos based on other videos that you’ve liked, this is where you’ll see videos with huge amounts of views and likes as they have appeared on millions of For You feeds, and are already viral or about to go viral. The algorithm is impressive, and the FYP (lingo for For You Page) is where most of us spend our time.
The 'Following' and 'For You' feeds. Image: TikTok.

How do I make a TikTok?

You can make original content and create your own sound, which is as simple as pressing this button:

Image: TikTok.

OR, you can use sounds/songs from other people’s videos, you’ll find it down the very bottom of the video. When you click on it, you’ll find all the other videos that have used this sound, and you’ll also see this button, click it and you can start to make your video:

Image: TikTok.
Image: TikTok.

Once you’re in the video creation station, you’ll find a few options in here.

  • Effects. Play around with these. I highly recommend ‘long face’ or the one that gives you two back up dancers (good if you’re feeling a little lonely).
  • Filters. G6 is pretty popular and rumoured to be favourable with the algorithm.
  • Timer. This is helpful to count you in if you want to start your video already inside the frame. It will also stop recording at the point that you set, meaning that you can make a video with multiple different frames. Like this one.
  • Speed. Allows you to record in slow motion or speed it up.
Image: TikTok.

I won’t lie, there is a lot of trial and error involved, but find inspiration from your favourite creators and if there has ever been a time for boredom-inspired creativity, it’s now.

What are the best TikTok dances?

Let’s circle back to The Renegade I mentioned earlier, possibly the most viral dance on TikTok. It was created by 14-year-old Jalaiah Harmon, and here she is performing it with Addison Rae, and Charli D’Amelio - two of the most followed creators on TikTok.

There’s also the Right Foot Now Left Foot dance that you might have seen the Mamamia team doing, Say So, Can’t Touch This, Supalonely, Rule the World... and one that requires some serious dance training, Attention. There are thousands of dances to learn and although they look difficult, you’ll be surprised what you can achieve if you watch a video 400 times on loop.


What are the best TikTok challenges?

If you go to the discover icon on the toolbar at the bottom of the app, you’ll see what hashtags are trending right now. Right now #boredathome is trending with 874.4M views. This is people creating content about being... bored at home. Relatable.

The other highest trending tags right now are #happyathome (videos encouraging staying in), #styletips (fashion videos), #artistsoftiktok (self-explanatory), and #selfcare (also self-explanatory).
If you jump on one of the trending hashtags, you improve your chances of having your videos land in some For You pages.

So, now you have the basics down, go forth and become a viral sensation. I will be virtually clapping you on from the comments.

Do you use TikTok? Let us know in the comments below. 

Feature Image: TikTok.