In the last year or so, TikTok has taken the world by storm. If you don’t yet have your own account (um, and why don’t you?), you have likely been sent a TikTok in an Instagram message or a text message. Even if you don’t think you have, you probably have. TikTok users are pumping out hours upon hours of content every month, and the songs and dances featured on the app have gone viral TOO MANY TIMES TO COUNT.

If you’re over the age of 25, you likely feel a little bit weird about using TikTok. You also probably have a lot of questions surrounding the TikTok world, like...

Who is Charli D’Amelio? What is this viral feta pasta I keep hearing about? Why do people keep cutting lines into tortillas? Why are Gen Zers and Millennials fighting so much with each other? What IS the maximum age to be on this app?

We’ll get to all that. But first, a basic understanding of TikTok is necessary.

What is TikTok?

Smart phone with TIK TOK logo, which is a popular social network on the internet. United States, Wednesday, November 27, 2020

TikTok is a new social media app that honestly can’t really be compared to any other social app currently out there. It’s a combination of Musical.ly and Vine, which folded in 2017.

Users upload videos, usually set to music, and that’s about it! Music is a big part of TikTok, so it’s harder to watch your content in secret...we feel for you, people taking extra long bathroom breaks. All that means is that you are so much more excited to watch your videos when you get home from work.

In order to fully understand TikTok, here are some popular terms you need to know.

Duets

TikTok screenshot duet with Ed Sheeran
Laura Bennett/Oola

Duets are one of the coolest features of TikTok. With this feature, users can "duet" another user with their video. When someone duets another person, you will see both videos displayed on your screen simultaneously so you can see how their content fits into the original person's content.

Dueting is a great way for people to respond to questions that other users post. It’s also a great way to get some comedic relief, as sometimes people post things that they don't even know are able to be made fun of. We are especially fond of TikTok musicals, which utilize the duet feature in such an innovative way that each new person builds on a new sound layer to create a musical masterpiece.

Challenges

A teenage girl dances and shoots a video for Tiktok. Selfies. The phone is mounted on a tripod and the ring lamp shines. Russia, Tatarstan, January 20, 2020

If you’ve seen a lot of people doing the same dances, to the same song, lately, this is the reason why. TikTok is fun because users will arbitrarily release challenges to different songs and prompts and people will try to complete their own version of them. This results in some extremely hilarious renditions of the challenges whereby you can see your favorite accounts doing their own takes.

Of course, TikTok is a place where all users can generate their own content... meaning that you would also be able to participate in the challenge. Start stretching now, though, because some of these dance moves are not for the inflexible!

For You Page

Person on phone viewing short video reels published on social media

TikTok's For You Page is where you're going to get a lot of your content. This is the main place where you're going to find your new content. In addition, the accounts that you follow will also show up on the For You Page. You may see a lot of people tagging #fyp with the intent that they will also get their videos featured on the For You Page. TikTok has a scarily good algorithm that knows exactly what you are looking for as well as what interests you...and is able to tailor your For You Page seamlessly. TikTok's For You Page is a mixture of your own personal interests as well as anything that's trending or viral on TikTok that would also appeal to you.

For example, if you're buying a house, you will all of a sudden start seeing house and interior design content. If you are trying to get pregnant or are pregnant, you will see a lot of content about babies and baby clothes. If you're trying to plan a Mother's Day brunch, you will see a ton of Mother's Day content. Scary!

RecipeTok

Cooking with TikTok

Warning: RecipeTok is a delicious place that may cause you to consume an excessive amount of calories and to throw all your money at food. It's a place where different users post their renditions of popular dishes, share and showcase new dishes that they're developing, and/or request different recipes from influential food TikTok accounts.

You may have seen the baked feta pasta going viral? Well, that came from TikTok!

You may have also seen the tortilla hack that shows you how to make your own Crunchwrap Supreme out of anything? Well, that came from TikTok!

You're welcome...

GiftTok

Happy excited old bearded Santa Claus wearing costume holding cell phone using mobile app on smartphone having fun, laughing, isolated on red background. Christmas promotion, xmas applications ads.

GiftTok usually trends around the holidays, and for a good reason! People will share the favorite gifts they have received or purchased for other people during the holidays. These gifts are usually inexpensive because TikTok's user base tends to skew a little bit younger. (As you may have gathered, the majority of users are under 30.)

But you can get some pretty good ideas for those hard to shop people in your life...just by seeing what other people have had success with giving their loved ones for the holidays! Oh, and we won't lie...we want to buy a few of these items for ourselves!

DesignTok

Young asian mother enjoying her time alone lying on the sofa watching the news on a tablet. Girl comfortable relaxing at home on the couch using tablet.

DesignTok is a category of TikTok that pops up when you are moving into a new house or apartment, or you're looking to redo your existing living space. DesignTok is a great space where you can get ideas and become totally envious of how other people have decorated their living spaces, all from the comfort of your own couch. This is a great category for those who struggle with interior design but want to understand more about it via little bite-sized video clips.

MoneyTok

Close up photo of woman in coffee shop at table with bundle of dollars, cash money, mobile phone with blank empty screen to copy space, relaxing in restaurant during free time. Female rest in cafe

MoneyTok is a category that gives TikTokers financial advice. While a lot of the advice on TikTok is great and prudent, you need to make sure to do your research, just in case the information you receive is not actually true. But at the end of the day, TikTok is bringing awareness to money and excellent financial practices...which is always a good thing.

LifeHackTok

Surprised happy african man holding phone looking at cellphone read good news in sms sit on sofa, amazed black guy winner excited by mobile app win scream with joy celebrate victory success at home

We're not going to lie...LifeHackTok has saved us so many times! From pouring boiling hot water on your car in an effort to eradicate a dent to cutting a chocolate bar perfectly, the tricks on LifeHackTok are absolutely endless. The fact that these life hacks are compounded with visual components that show you how to actually perform them makes them that much more effective than text-based life hacks online.

At the end of the day, TikTok is yet another social media platform meant to distract us from what we need to get done. But it’s also pretty entertaining...and in a world of paying bills, meal prepping, and overall adulting...that can't be such a bad thing, right?

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