What is TikTok and how does it work?

The internet sensation that is TikTok has taken the world by storm, with the new social media app a hit with millennials and Gen Z alike. But what exactly is TikTok, how does it work and why has it gone viral?

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a Chinese owned video-sharing social media app that lets users capture, edit and share amusing 15-second video clips, from challenges, funny skits and magic tricks to cute animals. In some ways, it’s similar in nature to apps such as Snapchat and the now defunct Vine and Musical.ly.

Like other social media apps, TikTok operates on both iOS and Android mobile devices and allows users to like and comment on content, as well as follow other users and personalities. Its main objective? To make social media fun and entertaining again.

How is TikTok different from other social media apps?

Unlike other social media apps, TikTok provides users with an extensive variety of filters, music, animations and special effects to jazz up their video clips. At present, this means TikTok offers a wider scope for content creation than other similar apps.

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, said the app was founded in an effort to “combine the power of artificial intelligence with the growth of mobile internet to revolutionise the way people consume and receive information”.

This means that TikTok uses technology such as facial recognition to filter content and provide users with highly customised feeds.

Why is TikTok so popular?

Since its launch, TikTok’s growth in popularity has skyrocketed. Not only is the app one of the most downloaded on the Apple store but it also has 500 million monthly active users worldwide. So how did it become so popular?

Ease of use

TikTok’s simplified app is easy to use both as a content creator and as a viewer, making it a hassle-free way to create and consume entertainment.

To create content, all users have to do is hit record and post. The short nature of the videos means little effort is required for creating and watching content.

As videos load automatically as soon as the app is opened, users are sucked instantly into the TikTok world.

Localised content

Another factor behind TikTok’s popularity is the fact that despite it being a global product all the content is highly localised.

The app utilises locally trending hashtags to suggest topics for content creation, as well as sending recommendations to its users. This helps TikTok make the most of local trends to generate content, while ensuring users are kept up to date with trending videos.

Celebrity endorsements

Many celebrities have jumped on the TikTok bandwagon organically, which has led to millions of views. However, TikTok also utilises paid partnerships with celebrities, pop stars and influencers to generate buzz, bring in new users and create viral content on the app. These partnerships are crucial to TikTok’s geographical expansion.

How to keep children safe on TikTok?

TikTok’s popularity and focus on fun has resulted in millions of children using the app. Naturally, parents should be aware of the tools in place to help keep their children safe.

Like most other social media apps, there are privacy settings that allow parents to prevent certain users from interacting with their child’s account, as well as blocking offensive or inappropriate comments.

Of course, the best way to keep children safe is to be aware of what they view and consume online.

What do you need to use TikTok?

As with any social media app, you’ll need a stable internet connection or mobile broadband connection to view and create videos on TikTok.

While you’re able to view TikTok videos online through a web browser on your computer, you can only create content via the mobile app. As creating and uploading video content can take up approximately 100Mb of data each session, you’ll need to ensure your mobile broadband plan has enough monthly data to accommodate your TikTok addiction! This way, you won’t have to worry about running out of data and will be able to watch and upload as many TikTok videos as you’d like.


Compare mobile phone plans

If you’re watching TikTok videos on your computer, you’ll need to be connected to either VDSL or fibre internet to have a smooth viewing experience without having to sit through buffering and load times. For mobile phone viewers, a 4G connection will provide quicker download speeds. Compare mobile phone plan providers by using Canstar’s customer satisfaction table.


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