How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here


Find out how to use TikTok, from setting up an account and navigating the platform to using the app’s most popular editing features.

Okay, it’s official: you can’t ignore TikTok anymore.

It’s the seventh most-used social media platform in the world, with 689 million global active users, and it’s been downloaded more than 2 billion times. This isn’t a fad — it’s a social media phenomenon. And it’s time to get on board (and finally find out who on earth Charli D’Amelio is).

If you’re new to the video-sharing platform, we’ve got you covered. (Classic us!)

Read on for everything you need to know about getting started with TikTok and honing your video editing chops.

Download the full Social Trends report to get an in-depth analysis of the data you need to inform your social strategy in 2021.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a platform for short-form mobile videos. Users can make videos that range between 5 seconds and 3 minutes long, and use a massive music library and fun effects to quickly edit together bite-sized digital films.

But beyond the fun of quickly shooting and editing videos from your phone, what makes TikTok downright irresistible for so many people is discovering content via TikTok’s finely tuned algorithm.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here

TikTok’s For You page (the app’s home screen) delivers an endless stream of videos from other users, and gets smarter and smarter about what you like as time goes on. (Maybe even too smart, as some users fret.) It’s like a personalized TV station that caters to both your interests and our shortening attention spans!

TikTok’s incredible hold on the Gen Z market has turned it into a marketing powerhouse. Songs go viral (hi, Doja Cat!). Stars are born (shout out to Addison Rae, who pivoted a TikTok dance career into a starring role in He’s All That). Trends spread like wildfire (remember when you couldn’t find feta to save your life?).

Long story short: it’s an excellent opportunity for brands to get in there and build some serious buzz.


Baked feta pasta viral recipe! Inspired by #uunifeta via @liemessa & @tiiupiret #learnontiktok #foodtiktok #foodie

♬ She Share Story (for Vlog) – 山口夕依

It’s important to note how central music and dancing are to the TikTok ecosystem — the app was born of a merger between ByteDance and


Had to hit this classic to a classic DC : @swooshflawlessuk #tryagainchallenge #rocktheboatchallenge W/ @anthony_a_d

♬ original sound – orokanaworld

It’s also important to note that the app has faced its share of controversy, thanks to high-profile privacy and security concerns.

But obviously, these issues haven’t stopped millions of users worldwide from embracing the app. Here’s how you can get in on the fun, too.

How to set up a TikTok account

1. Download the TikTok app from the iOS App Store or Google Play.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here

2. Open the app.

3. Go to Me.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here

4. Choose a method to sign up.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here

You did it! You’re a TikTok-er now! No takebacks!

How to make a TikTok

Of course, a TikTok account is just one step in the journey towards total social media domination. You have to, you know, make some content, too. Luckily, it’s easy and fun.

1. Once you’ve got your account set up, tap the + symbol at the bottom of the screen to enter Create mode.

2. Before you start recording, you’ll be able to pre-select a variety of editing elements to apply to your video clip from a menu on the right-hand side of the screen. Flip to your front-facing camera, tweak the speed, apply a softening beauty lens, play with different filters, set up a self-timer or toggle the flash on or off.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here

3. At the top of the screen, tap Add sound to prepare sound clips and music.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here

4. Ready to record? Hold down the red button in the bottom center to record video, or tap it once to snap a pic. Alternatively, tap Upload to the right of the record button, and view your camera library to upload a photo or video from there.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here

5. If you’d like to add more videos or photos to the sequence, follow steps 2 through 4 again.

6. When you’ve created all of your “scenes,” hit the checkmark icon.

7. You’ll then have a chance to edit further, adding text, stickers, additional filters, voiceovers and more.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here

8. When you’re happy with your video, click Next to add a caption or hashtags, tag friends, add a URL or toggle various privacy options on or off.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here

9. Post by tapping Post!

How to use TikTok effects

TikTok’s editing effects are a huge part of the app’s appeal. With built-in filters, effects and graphic elements, it’s simple to compose a masterpiece (specifically: a masterpiece set to a Megan Thee Stallion song in which you have flames shooting out your eyes).

1. Tap the + icon to start making your video.

2. Tap the Effects menu to the left of the record button.

3. Scroll to the right to explore the different subcategories of effects, from “Animals” to “Funny.” Tap any of the effects to preview how they’ll look on camera.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here

4. Under the “Green Screen” section, you’ll find a variety of different ways to layer your video overtop of a fake background. Get experimental! You’ll see a row of photos and videos from your camera roll on top of the effects here. Tap whichever photo or video you’d like to layer onto the green screen and watch the magic (er, technology) happen.

Download the full Social Trends report to get an in-depth analysis of the data you need to inform your social strategy in 2021.

Get the full report now!

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here

5. When you’ve found the effect you’d like to try, tap out of the effects menu and use the record button to capture your scene.

Once you’ve gotten the hang of editing, check out our roundup of creative video ideas to get the juices flowing.

Most popular TikTok editing features

Not sure where to start on your editing journey? Start with mastering these popular video editing features.

The green screen tool

Transport yourself to anywhere in the world with the green screen effect.

Just tap the Effect button to the left of the record button and find the “green screen” tab. There are many different styles, but they all layer a fresh video of you in front of a fake background.

Hot tip: record a video of yourself, and then use that as the green screen backdrop so you can interact with your digital clone!


Try out the new #greenscreenvideo Update the app to use the new Creative Effect!

♬ original sound – TikTok

TikTok duets

The TikTok duet tool allows you to share a split screen with another user’s content to sing along, dance along… or get a little goofy.

To duet with a video, tap the share button on the right-hand side of a video and tap Duet. Note that users do need to opt-in to this, so you might not be able to duet with every video you find.


#duet with @nastitwerk

♬ Bum bun – Kiessooo

Adding text

It’s rare to find a TikTok video without text on it. Just add in your words of wisdom or closed captioning in on the final editing screen.

If you want to add in text that appears and disappears to the beat, we’ll walk you through it over here on our guide to the 10 Top TikTok Tricks.

Canadians let them know this is facts😴 #fypシ #friedchicken #eat #foodtiktok #foodie #trending #xyzbca #xyzbca #america #canada🇨🇦 #yum #Chicken #fy

♬ Touch Down To Cause Hell (KingMix) – Kingdanzz__

Appearing, disappearing or transforming

No high-tech editing moves are needed to pull off this popular TikTok magic trick: just record clips that begin where the last one left off… whether that’s poised in a snap, with your palm covering the lens, or with you totally out of the frame of the camera.


No puede haber más verdad en un video! A quien más le favoreció la pubertad? Miren mi ultima foto de insta 🤤😈 IG: @kattemusic #glowupchallenge

♬ La Niña de la Escuela – Lola Indigo & TINI & Belinda


TikTok is always introducing new effects, filters and features, so trending editing tricks are changing daily… like this clone photo effect that’s popping up everywhere. Keep your eye on the Discover tab to stay in the know about what’s trending.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here

How to navigate TikTok

When you first log in to TikTok and are bombarded by pugs in baths and terrible boyfriends from every angle, it can feel overwhelming. But the five icons across the bottom of your screen are there to offer some structure and comfort to the experience — yes, there is a method to the TikTok madness.

From left to right, they are:


Tap on this icon on the bottom-left of your screen, and you’ll find yourself watching a stream of TikTok content from other users.

In the For You tab, you’ll be delivered fresh content from across the app that the TikTok algorithm thinks you might like.

Want to see what your friends are up to? Swipe over to the Following tab (at the top of the screen) to view a stream of content exclusively from people you follow.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here


This page will share trending hashtags that you can explore, but it’s also the spot where you can search for specific content, users, songs or hashtags.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here

Create (the plus button)

Tap this to access the recording screen and create a TikTok! Scroll back up for hot tips on how this section functions, or dig into our 10 TikTok Tricks for beginners.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here


Here, you’ll find notifications about new followers, likes, comments, mentions and more. Tap the All activity menu at the top to filter by specific notification type.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here


The Me icon leads to your profile. You can tap the Edit profile button to make changes, or tap on the three dots in the top right to access TikTok’s settings and privacy menu.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here

How to find friends on TikTok

One way to find your friends on TikTok is to connect your profile to your contact list or Facebook account.

  1. Go to the Me tab (the bottom right corner).
  2. Tap the human-and-a-plus-sign icon in the top left corner.
  3. Choose to invite friends directly, connect with your phone’s contact list or connect with your Facebook friends list.
  4. To turn off contact sync, you can always go back into your phone’s privacy settings and turn off contact access for TikTok.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here

Another way to find friends is to search for their usernames. Go to the Discover tab (second icon from the bottom right) and type in their name.

One more option: scan your friend’s TikCode. This is a unique QR code built right into users’ profiles. Scan one with your phone, and you’ll be taken to their profile on your screen… no pesky tapping or typing required.

How to engage with other users on TikTok

Interacting with other users doesn’t just make TikTok a more fun place to be (you know, putting the “social” into social media), but it’s also a critical part of any successful TikTok marketing strategy.

On every video, you’ll find a menu of icons on the right-hand side that allow you to engage and interact with other TikTok-ers. Use ‘em!

  • Tap the profile icon to go to the user’s profile. (And if your fingers are dainty enough, tap the tiny plus sign to follow the creator.)
  • Tap the heart icon to like a video. (This gives the creator props and lets TikTok know what kind of content you’d like to see more of!)
  • Tap the speech bubble icon to leave a comment or read comments.
  • Tap the arrow icon to share the video with a friend, save it, use the same effect on your own video, or duet or stitch the video to your own fresh take.
  • Tap the spinning record icon to see which song is being used in the video, and explore other TikToks that use the same clip.

How to Use TikTok: Beginners Start Here

Of course, this is just scratching the surface of all that TikTok is capable of.

If you’re ready to take your brand’s TikTok strategy to the next level, we’ve got more in-depth guides that tackle everything from TikTok analytics to strategies for making money on the platform. Dig into our whole library of TikTok resources here… and then warm up your singing voice because we are just hankering for a duet.



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