You may not have heard about the most downloaded app during the first quarter of 2018.

And that’s not because it doesn’t demand your attention – far from it – it’s simply because, just like any burgeoning social media service that’s gaining significant traction, it has slipped quietly into the conscience of the millennial generation.

Now, big brands are starting to take note of TikTok, and for very good reason indeed.

Originally known as ‘Douyin’ (the Chinese name for ‘TikTok’), the newest kid on the video social media block was launched in China during the latter half of 2016. Owned by ByteDance, the app was eventually merged in 2018 following the parent company’s acquisition of the popular Musical.ly app for a reported $1 billion the year before.

But what exactly is TikTok, and is this new video-sharing app really something that brands can make use of, regardless of their size or audience?

More importantly, how do you use it for maximum effect if you’re a content creator?

Welcome to the Slinky guide to TikTok!

What is TikTok?

TikTok works on a pleasingly simple premise. Users can create 15- or 60-second video clips that are soundtracked by music.

And that really is about it. As you’d expect, you can add filters or a ‘beauty’ effect, but the meat of this video sharing app lies in the simplicity it offers for anyone who wants to get creative with video and share their clips with an audience.

This is why so many would-be social media influencers and stars (and anyone who is simply curious about such tools) is searching for how to use TikTok.

Short, sharp online video for immediate consumption is wildly popular, hence the reason TikTok is ranking so highly in both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store at the time of writing.

Who owns TikTok?

TikTok is owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance, which has been in existence since 2012.

With a value of around $75 billion, ByteDance isn’t just a one-trick pony – it also owns other highly popular online services and news platforms including Toutiao, BuzzVideo and Xigua Video.

ByteDance has serious chops when it comes to making a success of online platforms. Given TikTok’s relatively short time in the spotlight, the stats are incredibly impressive.

As of June 2018, it had amassed 500 million monthly active users across the world. During October that year alone, the app was reportedly downloaded from the Google Play Store nine-million times, and it accounted for 30% of iOS App Store downloads the month before.

In China, TikTok has gained 30% market penetration – and that’s a market that is infamously hard to crack when it comes to social media platforms.

So, who’s using TikTok?

TikTok demographics are as fascinating as its speedy rise to fame.

Around two thirds of TikTok content creators and users are female. Research suggests that around 66% of TikTok users are younger than 30-years-old, placing them firmly in either the Millennial or Generation Z category.

The app is, as you might expect, attracting the kind of people who relish social media-driven challenges, too. The #InMyFeelings challenge, for instance (which tasked people with filming themselves dancing to the Drake song of the same name), is particularly revealing, because it demonstrates how many users might be focusing their attention on TikTok rather than the more obvious social channels.

There are around five-million In My Feelings challenge videos on TikTok compared to Instagram, which has roughly 1.7 million. That statistic alone should give you a good idea of how this video sharing app is grabbing experienced and engaged users from other platforms.

How many people use TikTok?

In total, TikTok was downloaded over 660 million times during 2018. And, while not every app download remains installed or in use, 500-million people are assumed to be using the service globally each month.

It’s interesting to note that TikTok is more popular on Android than it is on iOS, but the fact it’s available on both platforms has seen in-app purchases on the app increase by 275% year-over-year. The in-app purchases, incidentally, are usually ‘coins’ that can be sent to other users during live streams.

Where to download TikTok for iOS?

It’s easy to find TikTok on iOS. Simply follow this link, or search for it on Apple’s App Store.

That said, the prominence and popularity of the app means it’s never really far from view either in the most downloaded charts or within App Store featured stories.

Where to download TikTok for Android

As noted earlier, TikTok is, for some reason, far more popular on Android than it is on iOS, which also means it’s very easy to find if you have such a device.

Simply follow this link, or search for the app on the Google Play Store.

For both iOS and Android, the app is free to download and use, and takes up minimal storage, so there’s zero barrier to entry if you want to try it out and start creating short videos of your own.

How to film and share TikToko videos?

So, let’s get into how to use TikTok!

It should be noted that this isn’t a full TikTok tutorial, because just like any social media video app, it pays to experiment with the service to find your own workflow and style (whether you want to use TikTok for fun or with a view to promoting your brand and its products).

Regardless, these are the basics for how to make a TikTok video and how to edit TikTok video.

  1. Start by tapping the plus sign at the bottom of the screen. This will open the camera and reveal a nice, big red record button (think Snapchat – it’s very similar).
  2. If you want to add music, you can press ‘Add a Sound’ and browse from a huge range of clips (you’ll need to create an account if you want to add favourites). This is a useful step if you want to lip-sync, but you can add music after you’ve recorded your footage, too.
  3. Choose the length of video by pressing the ‘Duration’ icon (15- or 60-second videos can be shot)
  4. Add any filters you’d like to apply by pressing ‘Filters’ or ‘Effects’ (there’s also a ‘Beauty’ mode if you’re that way inclined)
  5. To start recording, simply hold down the red record button for as long as you want to film – you can press it several times within your allotted time to capture different angles or scenes
  6. Once done, press the red tick button – on the next screen you can add editing effects, select cover images, add stickers and change the audio volume (for both the original sound and soundtrack). This stage is also where you’ll find how to trim TikTok video by pressing the corresponding button at the top
  7. Hit ‘Next’ and you’ll be taken to a screen where you can describe your video, add hashtags and choose exactly who can see it. Click ‘Post’ to get it out there!

As you’ll note, it’s incredibly easy to film, edit and share TikTok videos. And the app gives you full control over the way in which they’ll be interacting with, too.

You can turn comments on and off and, as noted previously, set the video to only be viewable by your friends, or made entirely private if you don’t want it to be public.

So, get experimenting. TikTok demands exploration, as the feature set is surprisingly deep. By combining filters, effects and music, you can create some truly inspiring, engaging content that will draw in a crowd.

Can I embed TikTok on my website?

No, you can not embed TikTok videos. However, TikTok videos can be shared in a variety of ways, from via messages to other social networks and by downloading it onto your device.

Is Musical.ly the same as TikTok?

You may have heard of Musical.ly. The video sharing social media platform began its life as a prototype in 2014 and was owned by a company in Shanghai (although it also had an office in Santa Monica, California).

The app allowed people to create 15-second or one-minute videos that could be lip-synced to music. It incorporated special effects such as time-lapse, slow motion and filters.

Sound familiar? That’s because Musical.ly was actually purchased by TikTok’s creator, ByteDance.

The Chinese company’s reasons for buying Musical.ly were fairly obvious; by June 2016, the service had amassed over 90 million users – a huge jump from its 10 million the year before. At the end of May 2017, that number had leapt to a colossal 200 million users.

Musical.ly also had some fantastic, well-incorporated features that had been developed over a significant period of time and refined. ByteDance, therefore, decided to take the best of the service and combine it with their own burgeoning video sharing app.

Thus, TikTok became what it is today and Musical.ly is no more.

Should I use TikTok as a social media influencer?

Simply put – yes!

You only need to scour the headline statistics and usage demographics in this guide to realise how powerful the platform is for influencers. And, while you’re certainly never guaranteed an audience on new social media networks, TikTok is clearly very adept at putting great video in front of the right people.

Should I use TikTok as a business or brand?

At the time of writing, this is certainly a tougher question to answer, because TikTok is still a relatively new concept for brand advertising.

That said, the author of this blog has literally just received a notification from TikTok suggesting he checks out the latest Spice Girl content in preparation for their big tour and (despite him not being the target demographic), that is a sign that big businesses are starting to take note of TikTok. Some of the early adopters include @gymshark (very good content) and @asos

example of tiktok ad
Example of a TikTok ad – beginner’s guide to TikTok

At the moment, TikTok is doing nothing more than testing its own advertising service for businesses. In January, it began quietly testing adds that would appear shortly after the app was launched but not much is known about how it will proceed from there.

Despite this, and if you have the time, there’s certainly no harm in testing the TikTok water as a business. It’s free to get started, ultra-simple to use and has a huge user base, therefore why not begin creating some content of your own and start using relevant hashtags to see where it gets you? As always with social media, you never know where it might lead with a little bit of effort and commitment.

Wrapping up

As you can probably tell from this guide to TikTok, the platform is still in its relative infancy. Chances are, if you’re out with your mates or at a family member’s house for dinner, few people will have heard of the service.

Despite this, the user base really is colossal, and they’re actively using the service every single day. That suggests it could be on the verge of breaking through into the mainstream.

When it comes to business, there’s little point in jumping onto every passing bandwagon, but TikTok is an example of a tried-and-tested form of content creation that has the financial and user backing required to potentially become a big hit.

So, why not jump on this short video sharing service bandwagon to see where you’ll end up in a few months’ time? If you have found this guide to TikTok useful, please consider sharing it on social media. Do not hesitate to get in touch if you need help creating viral social media videos.