What is TikTok And How Does it Work?

April 12, 2023


Have you heard of TikTok or don’t know what exactly I’m talking about? Currently there is a huge number and variety of social platforms and applications that have been created to also be used on mobile phones. Even some like this one could be said to be almost exclusive to this type of device.

This is precisely one of the networks that I am referring to and that, if you have children or nephews, it is likely that you have seen them using it. It is a medium in which users can share short videos that show their creativity to the fullest and that has taken the whole world by surprise.

Despite this, it already has a huge user base, having already become one of the most used social networks in the world. For that reason, I have decided to tell you in this article how exactly “TikTok App” works. You will see that at the end of the day you will also be downloading it to your mobile…

What is TikTok?

TikTok or “Douyin”, which is what it is called in China, is a relatively new social network from the huge Asian country, which only saw the light of day in 2016, and even so, it already has a huge base. of users around the world.

Even so, it was not until 2018 that the mobile application began to expand outside its country of origin.

It is estimated that, despite its few years of life, it already has more than 800 million users, and more than one from other communities, such as YouTube or Instagram, from where we can find users with a history already made on the Internet..

The main feature of TikTok is its short-form music videos, videos of a few seconds (between 15 and 60 seconds), in which a person can express their creativity without many limitations.

A bit similar to how Instagram, WhatsApp or Facebook stories work, but with much more creative freedom.

And it is that this social network offers its users an editing tool that allows them to add effects to the videos, making them unique, creative and above all entertaining.

Although it does not reach the point of being a professional editing tool, it offers its users entertaining functions with which to quickly and easily edit their videos.

In addition, it is possible to take advantage of external editing applications to improve the quality of the videos that are uploaded to this social network.

What kind of social network is it?

It is a vertical social network, in which the main theme is the videos created by its users, which in turn can be of very varied themes, as I have already mentioned before.

In addition, it is very comfortable to use, since similar to Instagram, it has infinite scrolling, which allows you to quickly see the content uploaded by other users you follow.

In a certain way, this new network is very reminiscent of what Snapchat was at the beginning, a very attractive application for the youngest on the market.

Because yes, the largest population of this social network are precisely young people, for whom this App is directed, although without excluding an older audience.

From the point of view of Marketing in Social Networks, this has become one of the best tools for advertising and trying to attract a younger audience, especially now that advertising is being included within the application.

Later I will tell you about how TikTok works exactly and what you can do on this Social Network.

How was TikTok born?

The history of this application is quite curious, since it is involved in controversy.

The truth is that it was originally born under the ByteDance company in September 2016, as a Chinese application known as Douyin, which basically means “shake the music”.

This App quickly gained fame among the young population of China, with 100 million active users in its launch year, thanks to its short videos that could be shared or private according to the users’ choice.

Until then, its market was mainly within China, and it was not until a year later, in September 2017, that ByteDance acquired the TikTok brand to expand its application to an international market, starting first with several Asian countries such as Thailand., where the app was a tremendous success and the most downloaded free app.

Merger with Musica.ly and entry into the US market

A couple of months later, in November of the same year 2017, ByteDance bought Musica.ly, a company that owns a social network similar to TikTok, from Shanghai and based in California, which had around 100 million users., mainly young people residing in the United States.

This acquisition cost more than 1,000 million dollars, and meant for the company its foray into the US market, in which it already has an estimated user base of more than 80 million, being a large part of the global user base. of this social network.

Despite acquiring the company in November 2017, it wasn’t until August 2018, almost a year later, that TikTok and Musica.ly finally merged, opening the doors to a larger and more popular market in the West for ByteDance.

In fact, 2018 is the year that many consider the true start of this platform in the western market, this being the year in which it spread rapidly on this side of the world.

Currently, this app is widely used in more than 150 countries and has been translated into about 75 different languages ​​for a wider reach.

It has gained such fame that important figures in the world of social networks and even television, music and film celebrities have begun to use this application.

TikTok and Douyin

Despite belonging to the same parent company, today it and Douyin continue to function as two individual Apps, TikTok for the international market and Douyin for China.

The application continues to be a success not only outside of China, but also within its country of origin, where it is widely known for the Marketing campaigns that it usually carries out, which include major celebrities from the Asian nation.

What is the controversy that covers TikTok?

You have to understand that despite being in an international market, TikTok continues to belong to a company from China, and as such, it has no legal right to hide information from this country.

With this said, various organizations in the United States affirm that the application represents a risk to national security, and that it has even gained popularity within US military bases.

It must be considered that the application freely shares images and videos, not only of individuals, but also of the location in which they are.

In addition to this, there have also been multiple cases of cyberbullying in the application, racism and pedophilia.

Let’s remember that it is a very famous application among the youngest, and this includes children under 18 or 16 years of age, who are exposed to sexual predators and who often do not have the correct supervision of their parents.

A case that sounded a lot was that of Denver, a boy who was only 8 years old who suffered sexual harassment through this application.

Having said this, it must be clarified that this is not the only application in which this type of situation is seen, since in some others, such as FaceApp, cases of cyberbullying and sexual predation are also seen.

What is TikTok really for?

Originally, this application has a well-defined audience, young people between the ages of 13 and 24 who enjoy creating short videos (between 15 and 60 seconds). Generally these videos include the use of music, although the decision to use background music or not is entirely up to the user.

Now, what can TikTok be used for? Well, like any social network, it allows you to do many things.

The main use it has is to share content in the form of short videos; With this content, it is then possible to interact with the users who live on this platform, either through comments, likes or even video reactions.

TikTok for companies

Although the main public that this company has is a young public, this is not an impediment for companies and brands to make life within this social network. In fact, quite the opposite, it is an excellent place for a company to reach a new target audience, especially if this is a younger target.

Don’t be surprised, although young people between 13 and 25 years of age do not have great purchasing power compared to young adults (over 25 years of age), it does not imply that they do not purchase products or services.

I remind you that these are the main consumers of some market sectors, such as video games, music, fashion, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and much more.

It is an audience that you really want to reach and it is one of the best ways to do it today.

It is not for nothing that many artists are making a living within this social network, since it is an excellent way to reach their most important audience. An example is that of Billie Eilish, who is a fairly active user on this social network.

Having a presence on this social network can be as advantageous as being part of Instagram or Facebook. The only difference is that you have to know how to do it, since as I mentioned before, this platform focuses on short videos and not on posts or images.

But to know how to reach this audience, you first need to know how TikTok works.

How exactly does TikTok work?

Let’s first start with the fact that it is a social network that is partly similar to Instagram.

The display format is vertical, and to see the content that users upload we must swipe up so that new videos appear.

In a way, it’s like taking Instagram stories, and putting them in the main feed. With that said, let’s talk about everything you can do on Tik Tok once you’ve downloaded the app and created your account.

Followed and recommended

Let’s start with the content that we can access.

In the feed we have two alternatives:

  • The content that we “follow”, that is, content created by those users whom we voluntarily follow on this social network, either because we liked their content or because they are someone we know.

In a similar way to what happens with Instagram, the order of content will depend on the time it has been uploaded and the frequency with which we search or interact with said users.

  • Now, the second “alternative” is recommended content. This is an option that allows you to see what you might like, regardless of whether or not you are following the user who uploaded the video.

This is possible thanks to the fact that this social network works with artificial intelligence, and it will recommend content based on your viewing trends, who you have liked, who you have searched for and more.

How to toggle between one option and another?

Simple, on the main page of TikTok, if you go to the top, you will see two small options “Following” and “For you”, these two options are the ones I just mentioned respectively, and you can choose any of the two to decide What kind of content will appear in your feed.

By default, the one that usually appears every time you open the app is “For you” which would be the recommended ones.

Bottom menu, everything at your fingertips

At the bottom of the screen there is a menu that has 5 important options characteristic of all social networks. These are “Start”, “Trends”, “Más o plus”, “Inbox” and finally “Me”.

Now, what is each one for? Let’s see it.

  • Start

The Home function is quite simple, basically it sends you to the main screen of the TikTok App, from where you can continue to see the content that interests you.

It has no more, just go back to the feed.

  • Trends

A bit like its name says, there you will find the main trends, whether they are challenges, hashtags or themes in general.

This is also an important place if you want to stay up to date with the content being uploaded to this app, and if you want to create attention-grabbing content quickly.

For users it is the ideal place to find interesting new content and users to follow.

  • More or Plus

It’s the button in the middle with the plus sign.

With it you can basically start recording and editing new content to upload to the application. It doesn’t have much else to it other than creating content.

  • Inbox

In this option you will find all the recent activity that has occurred in your account, whether they have commented on you, that they have followed you, I like you, and others.

In this window you will also find in the upper right part the direct messages that other users of the app have sent you.

From “Me” you can access all the information related to your account and user profile, as well as manage all the important information about it, from security and privacy to payment options.

It is the first place you should visit after downloading the app and creating your account, since it is there where you will configure all the necessary basic information.

  • Video interface

Now, let’s go to the videos. The first thing you should know is that, unlike the stories on other social networks, if you let the video run without sliding your finger, it will not automatically go to the next one, but rather it will enter a kind of loop with which you will be able to continue watching the video until you decide to slide your finger.

That said, on the video screen you will first have the name of the user who has uploaded it and just below the different hashtags they have used.

This is at the bottom of the video, just above the menu.

In the left sidebar you will have the three main interactions that exist in each social network, that is, the typical “Like”, comments and sharing. You can also see the statistics of each video just below the icons of each interaction.


And this is really all the most important and relevant to discovering what TikTok is, at least in a preliminary way.

As you can see, it is not very difficult to use, and its operation is quite simple a priori. Although being simple does not make it less relevant, in fact, this very simplicity makes it quite famous among young people.

Of course, if we go through each feature in depth, it could take us quite a while, since as you know, each feature can be quite long if explained in depth.