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Getting started on TikTok: the guide to understanding everything

Simon Lebrun
April 14, 2022
Last modified on
May 17, 2023
TikTok guide to understand everything about the application and get started with the best tips.

Since 2020, TikTok has established itself as a new opportunity for both brands and content creators. The social network has been able to attract new audiences and diversify its themes and formats. 

So much so that today, it seems difficult to consider a B2C communication campaign without using the power of TikTok. 

But how did TikTok become what we know today and where do you start to get started on the social network?

Understand everything to get started on TikTok

The origins of TikTok

To know where to start on TikTok, you need to understand where TikTok comes from.

TikTok is a Chinese application that is called Douyin in its original territory. Douyin became TikTok internationally when Musically was acquired to merge the two platforms. This merger gives birth to TikTok as we know it today. 

If it is true that Musically revolved a lot around dance videos and choreographies, on TikTok, the contents have diversified enormously. 

Today, you can see all types of video content and all themes on the platform. Dance is still present, but it has also given way to video games, cooking, personal development, fashion, business and many educational contents. 

In short, no matter what your niche is, you surely have a place to find on TikTok. 

Content on TikTok can be summarized in two main categories: Educate, and Entertain. In general, we position ourselves on one or the other, even if both can coexist. 

If you are confused about all the different formats available on TikTok, and how to use them, you can read our article on TikTok video formats and their uses.

Opportunities on TikTok

You may have already asked yourself why TikTok is the most successful social network today. And it's a very good question, with multiple answers in fact.

First of all, TikTok is a young social network. This means that it is still growing, and wants to be attractive to content creators, who will themselves attract subscribers (mostly passive users).

To put it simply, thevirality index on TikTok is strong. Visibility is therefore more extensive than on older networks, whosecreator expansion campaigns have been completed.

TikTok'salgorithm allows for high virality, with a very special way of working.

If you want to learn more about this algorithm, you can read our article detailing how it works.

It allows for unparalleled organic growth in the social networking world. This is due in particular to a video distribution system that works quite differently from what we know.

TikTok scans each posted video to distribute it to the most appropriate audience based on all the data it has collected (hashtag, description, visual information, sounds, etc.).

Having a lot of followers, or none at all, is not really important on TikTok. Indeed, videos are not only distributed to the people who follow you, but to all those who would be likely, according to TikTok, to appreciate your content.

Your video then arrives in the #Shorten feed, from people who don't necessarily follow you.

There is also a #subscription feed, on which you can find exclusively the videos of people you follow. But it is much less used than the For you feed.

TikTok is therefore more of a content sharing platform than a social network where you interact with your friends.

There's also the fact that authenticity is really at the heart of the platform. This fills a real need for consumers who may find Instagram a bit overrated in the long run.

A fairly simple difference between Instagram and TikTok is that on Instagram, you usually show the result. On TikTok, you show more of the process.

But despite the virality of TikTok, to perform on the platform, you must understand the codes and know how to use them.

Understanding the TikTok codes

The logic of video production on TikTok and the trends that emerge on the platform are quite unique. This can seem quite confusing when you first open the application.

So to make it easier for you, here are some tips to better understand TikTok:

  • The application thinks "sound on" . You can watch TikTok videos without sound, but they usually lose a lot of their meaning. Sound and music are at the heart of the platform.
  • The content is more important than the form. The most important thing is to bring value via the message delivered. Aesthetics count much less than on Instagram for example.
  • The emotions that each video provokes should be taken into consideration. What are you trying to provoke in your target? Emotions are what motivate people to leave a comment, to like, to share a video. And these are all positive information sent to the algorithm about your video.
  • However, the WatchTime (viewing time) is the absolute value of the platform. Its goal is that users stay as long as possible on the application. So your formats must be optimized as much as possible to capture the attention and maintain it.
  • Even if it is possible to create 3 minute videos, it is better to avoid them to begin with. Indeed, the longer the video, the more difficult it will be to keep your target's attention. 
  • Trends are often based on music and a related action. So when you take trends, the goal is to personalize them and not duplicate them without bringing value.
  • On this trend for example, many creators participated by changing the text they added to the screen on their video.

Keep in mind that the easiest way to start on TikTok is to spend time on it.

Feel free to explore the "discover" section next to the "Home" tab. You can simply look at the content there, or search at the top of that page for your niche. You can search for users, videos, sounds, live streams, and hashtags.

Discover page on the TikTok application
Discover popular videos on TikTok

In any case, this section is a good way to discoverthe different formats you can create on the platform.

To take it a step further, you can also look at accounts that share content about your niche. Then pull up their profile history to watch as many videos as possible and soak it all in.


The first steps on TikTok

You can create a TikTok profile in 2 ways: 

  • download the application on mobile 
  • or go directly to the official website from your computer. 

There is no difference between these two methods. Registration requires a valid phone number or email to verify your identity.

TikTok registration and login page

To make it easier for you to get started with the application, here are the first steps to follow:

1/ Create an account:

The first step to create your profile is to fill in your date of birth, your email address, and choose a password. You can also login with your Facebook, Apple, Google, or Twitter account.

Follow the different steps of TikTok, but think carefully about your @pseudo. You can only change it once a month. The description and the 'name' (which will be indicated at the top of the account and which is different from your nickname) can be changed at any time. 

All you have to do is add a photo, save your profile and publish your first video!

2/ Create a video:

  • Click on the small "+" in the middle of the bottom band.
  • Select "Camera" at the very bottom (depending on updates, the creation interface may vary).
  • Select the duration, to be on the safe side, always look at the bigger picture (example: 1 minute).
  • Click on the red button to start recording.
  • Multiply the takes by pausing between each shot/phrase: on TikTok you can only cut the beginnings, or the ends of the rushes, if you make a mistake in the middle of it, it is better to go back.
  • You can use the timer and play with the "enhance" section (without abusing it).
  • You can also set your shots to fast or slow motion, using the bar that goes from 0.3x (slow motion) to 3x (fast motion).
  • Finally, the effects are available to the left of the red button.
  • And you can also choose music from the recording by clicking on the top.

3/ Editing directly from TikTok

  • Click on "Adjust clips" to make cuts at the beginning and end of the take so that everything fits together.
  • You can click on"Text" to make written inserts, by clicking on the added text, you will also be able to define its duration and change its font and colour.
  • You can add music or modulate your sound at the top of the screen, just make sure that the sound of the video is about the same level as the ones you can hear on TikTok.

Finally you can add a description, hashtags, and publish!

You have to keep in mind that to start on TikTok in the best conditions, it is essential to understand the application well. And if you are not sure of yourself, the best thing is to be accompanied by a TikTok agency like Sleeq!

Remember to have fun in the creative process. If you don't, it will show. And your content will have little chance of working!

Good luck with your start on TikTok! 🚀

We'll support you in creating content and setting up effective campaigns on TikTok, ensuring that our actions are in line with your marketing objectives

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