Okay, we’ll admit it. We swore it wouldn’t happen, but we downloaded TikTok and now we’re addicted to it. Maybe it’s the ability to endlessly scroll through 15-to-60 second long videos of Gen Z’s showing off their intensely choreographed dance moves. Or maybe there’s something charming about the fact that we get more and more painfully aware of our age with every video we watch. Either way, the app has officially stolen our hearts, our attention and an unhealthy amount of our free time.
Of course, we know that we were a little late to the party. And to be honest, we’re also well-aware of the fact that we probably weren’t invited to it in the first place. But in any case, we’ve finally arrived! And as Kesha sings in her original version of “TikTok”, “the party don’t start ‘til I walk in.”
If you’ve given into your deep desire to crash the corner of the internet that the “cool kids” call their own, welcome to the club! At one point, we also didn’t understand the allure of TikTok and just like you we were sitting there feeling overwhelmed with confusion and wondering what we just got ourselves into. That’s why we’ve created a quick millennials’ guide to TikTok and broken it all down into two simple steps. Scroll on for a super basic rundown on everything you need to know if you want to get moving and shaking with all of the other TikTok stars.
Step One: Watching TikToks
- The For You Page or “FYP”
When you first open the app, you’ll see what’s called the For You Page, or the “FYP”, in case you want to keep up with all the teen slang. While it may look sort of similar to the feeds on your other social media apps, the FYP isn’t your typical timeline – and you probably shouldn’t call it that unless you want a bunch of Gen Z’s to roll their eyes at you. Here, you won’t find life updates from your friends and family, or a haphazard blend of cheesy inspirational quotes and unsettling political posts to mindlessly scroll through. Instead, just as the name implies, the For You Page is actually home to thousands of videos curated just “for you”.
It’s created using TikTok’s ingenious algorithm, which constantly tweaks and adjusts the videos it shows you based on how you’ve interacted with what you’ve already seen. If you like, comment, or share a video, chances are that you’ll see more just like it. And trust us when we say that the algorithm is scary accurate. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if they revealed that it actually has the capability to read your mind. If you’re craving chocolate cake, you can expect to see Gordan Ramsey cooking one up on your FYP. And if watching The Bachelor is your guilty pleasure when no one is watching, just know that your secret isn’t safe with TikTok’s algorithm.
- The Following Page
The other feed of videos you have access to on TikTok is called the Following Page – and don’t worry, the Gen Z’s haven’t come up with a trendy name for this one quite yet, so you’re off the hook if your memorization skills are subpar.
The following page is where you can see the videos made by anyone who you follow. Whether it’s your adorable niece or your favorite musician, this is where you’ll be able to see what they’ve created. And in fact, pretty much anyone you could possibly imagine has found their way to TikTok, from companies and corporations, to sports teams and celebrities. So if there’s a brand or personality you like, chances are they’re on TikTok and they’re probably filming their version of the #BlindingLights challenge as we speak. If you need a bit of inspiration about who to follow first, here are a few of the accounts that we’re loving lately!
Charli D’Amelio: If you’re looking for a direct glimpse into the world of Gen Z, then you’ll want to follow TikTok golden girl Charli D’Amelio. Similarly to most creators on the app, Charli makes videos of all kinds, but dancing is truly her specialty. And clearly it works for her, because with every dance she choreographs and posts, her following continues to grow rapidly. So far, she’s amassed an impressive 110M followers and she’s only been on the app for less than two years.
Lizzo: While Gen Z’s may refer to Charli as their Queen of TikTok, Lizzo definitely reigns as ours. We all know her for her chart-topping hits like “Truth Hurts” and “Good As Hell”, but if you want to see what her day-to-day life looks like, or find out what she actually managed to fit in the teeny-tiny Jacquemus bag that she took to the 2019 AMAs, then you’ll want to follow her here.
Paige Niemann: Before you double take, no she’s not Ariana Grande. We know it’s confusing since Paige might look a lot like her, but she’s actually made a name for herself by posting lifestyle and fashion content for over 9 million followers. So if you’re on the hunt for some style inspo and a laugh or two, you’ll definitely want to give her a follow.
Step Two: Making TikToks
- Challenges & Trends
Okay TikTok star in training, you’re ready for your next step. Now that all of your free time has been taken over by watching the viral videos made by others, it’s time to try your hand at making one of your own. But before you jump in, there’s a few things you should probably know so you don’t completely embarrass yourself. Luckily for you, we’ve done our research and we’ve got your back.
First and foremost, you should know that a good majority of the videos on TikTok revolve around challenges and trends. Challenges are basically when a user creates a video where they try and attempt to do the same activity that others have done before. For example, in the “Wipe It Down” challenge, users wipe down their mirrors with Windex three times and then on the fourth time they “wipe” themselves into an alternate reality where they look completely different than they did before. Challenges and trends can involve doing all sorts of things, from dancing to lip-synching, or even doing tricky yoga poses with your significant other. Whichever one you choose to participate in, they offer a great way to get involved with the TikTok community and to announce to everyone that you’ve officially arrived. If you want to find out which challenges everyone is participating in right now, simply head over to the Discover tab to see what’s trending currently!
The next thing you should know about making a TikTok is that the audio you use in the background will ultimately have a big influence on how many people will see it. So unless you want your hard work and cringe worthy dance moves to go unseen, now is probably not time to use the song that played at your high school prom, or the one by some obscure band that you thought was cool in university.
As you scroll through your FYP, you’ll probably notice that different creators often use the same sounds. That’s because audio also plays a huge role in TikTok’s trends and challenges. For example, you may have seen a ton of users dancing around to Drake’s notorious “Toosie Slide” or a bunch of girls driving around wearing 1950’s style headscarves and playing Mike Posner’s “Cooler Than Me” in the background. If you’re hoping to make a TikTok that’ll go viral, start by checking out which sounds are being used most often right now and join in on the trend! Just maybe think twice before you try to create your own version of “WAP” by Cardi B – your lack of flexibility and the Gen Z’ers of the world will thank you for that later.
One other essential skill that you’ll need to add to your repertoire before becoming a TikTok star is knowing how to duet. Duets give you the opportunity to split your screen and react to a TikTok that has already been made. Sometimes users create videos that are intentionally designed for dueting, by leaving blanks in conversation that are meant to be filled in by someone else later on. Other times, duets are used by a group of high school boys in a bad attempt to hit on a pretty girl. Either way, if you want to react to something that made you laugh, or explain to a Gen Z-er that they’re wrong about skinny jeans and side parts going out of style, then this is the way to do it.
- Finding Your Niche
One of the greatest things about TikTok is that it’s home to creators of all kinds. So no matter how unique you are, you’re sure to find someone that you have something in common with. That’s why you should never be afraid to create what you love to create – because chances are that someone else will love it too. Comment on the TikToks that make you laugh, share the videos that you find relatable and always be yourself when you make your own content, because authenticity will go a long way when it comes to follower account. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find another millennial who constantly craves chocolate cake and secretly binge watches The Bachelor just like you do.
And just like that, you’re practically a pro-level TikToker yourself. Just don’t give Charli D’Amelio too much of a run for her money!
Xo, The Pretty Little Hangers Team