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Ready to join TikTok in 2022? Here's what you need to know

We'll tell you how to make videos, gain followers, get in on trends and challenges.

003-tiktok-app-logo-on-phone-2021
Sarah Tew/CNET

Short-form video app TikTok has come a long way since its 2016 launch, reporting 1 billion active monthly users in September, despite its conflicted history with the US government. TikTok's popularity skyrocketed in the US during the pandemic and the app seems to have found a permanent place in our cultural zeitgeist. 

Hubspot reported that 96% of surveyed consumers said their video consumption increased in 2020. TikTok's readiness to meet this need sent other social media scrambling to catch up. Instagram, Facebook and YouTube all put more focus on incorporating TikTok-style features in 2021. In addition – even if you're not on TikTok – you've likely noticed users crossposting TikTok videos on other social media, or an enthusiastic friend has sent you dozens of links through text. 

Planning to finally join TikTok in 2022? Whether you're just curious or looking to go viral, we'll explain the ins and outs, like how to sign up, film a TikTok and get more followers. We can't promise that you'll achieve viral internet fame, but we'll help you get the most out of the app? 

Getting started on TikTok

When you open the TikTok app, videos will automatically start playing and you can poke around the site. But if you want to make quirky TikTok videos to get your 15 seconds of fame, you'll need to make an account. Download the app on iOS and Android and follow the instructions to create an account. 

Until you start following some people or liking videos, the For You feed is going to be a hodgepodge of content. So start by scrolling and see what you find, or you can start in the Following tab and sync your contacts to find friends who are already using the app. The Discover tab is also a good place to find content. See what hashtags are trending and search for what you're interested in.

Most of the ways you can interact with a video are on the right side of the screen -- the creator's profile, the "like" heart, the comment section, share options and the rotating icon that will show you other videos that use that particular song. Long-press the screen to save a video to your phone, add it to your favorites collection, or say you're not interested in it. Access, follow and interact with the creator's profile by swiping left, tapping their username or profile picture.

Descargar videos de TikTok para Android

You can learn more about a creator, watch more of their content and set up post notifications from their profile page.

César Salza/CNET en Español

As you get more involved in the platform and engage with more people, you can find likes and comments from your followers in the Notifications tab. Your private message inbox is also in the Notifications tab. To make any adjustments to your account, like privacy settings or push notifications for example, tap the profile icon, then the three-dot settings in the top-right corner.

Make a TikTok that stands out (or follow a trend)

Ready to make your first video? Tap the white + at the bottom center of the screen and give TikTok the necessary permissions it asks for. You can either film something new or upload a video (or photo) from your phone. The sound editing options are at the top right, and the video editing controls are at the bottom left of the screen. Your video can be 15 seconds, 60 seconds or three minutes. 

There are a lot of options available to edit your video, and my best advice is just to explore and experiment. You can add sounds and music to your video and use the Mixer and Trim tools to customize it. Experiment with voiceover by tapping the microphone under the Filter button. There are more fun voice effects if you're filming a new TikTok, too. 

Screenshots of people trying not to smile at "Oh no, our table" audio on TikTok

For example, a few silly, light-hearted challenges on TikTok include attempting to keep a straight face while listening to certain sounds or songs.

Screenshot by Abrar Al-Heeti/CNET

TikTok has a slew of filters, stickers, emojis and text to lay over your video as well. You can also add effects before you start filming or as you go. The cool part is you're not limited to one filter per video. You can add transitions like Scroll, Rotate, Slip and more. Tap Split to, well, split the screen however you like up to nine ways. Finally, you can add reverse effects, flash (like a double- or triple-take) or slow motion to your video.

Use these tools to strike out on your own or put a fresh spin on a viral challenge or trend. If you find an effect, filter or sound that you like, you can tap the tagged effect, filter or song title on the creator's video to see how others have used it in their videos. From that screen, tap Use this Sound or Try this Effect to start making your own TikTok.

Once you're ready to put your video out into the world, double check that everything is how you want it to be – choose a cover image, add hashtags, write up a quick video description and tag friends if you want. But those aren't the only settings to check. 

Customize your preferences by tapping Who Can View This Video and choose between public, friends only or private (only you can see private videos). You can also toggle comments, Duets and Stitch on or off. Save your video to drafts, automatically post it to other social media or post it to TikTok only. You can adjust these settings after the video is published as well.

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Finding fame on TikTok

Internet fame might seem easier than ever, but we can't guarantee anything. A one-off video going viral and skyrocketing a person to internet fame is fairly rare, but it does happen. Noodle, a 13-year-old pug, and his owner, Jonathan Graziano, gained viral popularity on TikTok by deciding if it's a "bones day" or a "no-bones day."

Trends happen fast and cover a wide spectrum of topics. In addition to Noodle's productivity forecasts, some of CNET's favorite TikTok trends in 2021 included sea shanties, Olivia Rodrigo songs, and Adam Driver's "good soup" line from the HBO show Girls. 

Here are some general tips that'll have you on your way to a verification badge in no time.

Post, post, post

Without the boost of a viral video out of the gate, establishing a presence on TikTok takes time and commitment. If you're seeking TikTok fame, we'd suggest that you create a schedule for yourself so you're posting regularly enough to establish a steady stream of content. Once you hit 1,000 followers, you'll be able to "go live." Try to livestream often.

Jonathan Graziano and pug Noodles

Want to know if today is a "bones day" or a "no bones day"? A pug on TikTok can tell you.

Screenshot by Abrar Al-Heeti/CNET

Find the 'thing' that sets you apart 

Everybody's good at something. But the internet is huge and a lot of people are good at the same thing. As you embark on your journey for internet fame, look for that extra something to set your videos apart from everyone else's. The more niche, the better. Once you find your stride, keep it consistent. It might not be the best idea to do a makeup tutorial one day and then demonstrate how to fix a TV the next. 

Quality videos can make a big difference

You don't have to go to film school, but if you're serious about creating an online presence, you should present a polished product. You wouldn't want to follow someone who doesn't post quality videos either, right? Don't go broke on camera equipment, but maybe invest in a tripod for your phone (they can run as little as $10 on Amazon). Read up on video composition while you're waiting for it to be delivered.

Various people trying TikTok's inverted filter

If you're interested in seeing more of a trend, or trying it yourself, you can tap the in-video link to see what other users have posted. 

Screenshot by Abrar Al-Heeti/CNET

Connect social media

Odds are, you'll have more luck if all your social media accounts are linked together. You'll have even more luck the more social media platforms you're on. You probably follow your favorite celebrities and influencers on multiple platforms, so wouldn't you like your followers to do the same? More platforms to follow means more exposure and a bigger audience for your videos to reach.

That said, don't compromise your safety seeking internet fame. Perhaps create a Finsta and protect your private Instagram. Additionally, if you get enough followers, you can create a Page on Facebook and keep your personal account private.

Follow-for-follow

Engaging with your followers is a big deal. You know how exciting it is when your favorite podcaster or a celebrity retweets you or likes your Instagram post. There's no need to give someone the cold shoulder. If they comment on one of your posts or a video, like it and comment back.

Keep safety in mind, as always. If you're going to be in the public eye, not everyone will like what you make. Some negative comments can be constructive and help you improve your content. Other comments or messages might be harassment, creepy and abusive. Use your discretion. Report and delete the trolls. Don't forget to interact with other TikTok creators too!

tiktok-fitness

TikTok has content for everyone. Seriously. You can be an active poster or just casually watch videos. 

Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Do your homework

What's trending is important to a video's success on any social media platform. Pay attention to hashtags, what's popular right now and what's trending in the Discover tab. This might seem like it contradicts the "find your thing" tip, but you can stick a hashtag on your video to make it more findable -- even if it's only tangentially related. Sneaky, I know, but people need to find your videos to appreciate them. However, the more relevant your content is, the better it'll do with your audience.

Deleting TikTok

If TikTok winds up not being your cup of tea or if, perhaps more likely, you're spending so much time on the app that you no longer go outside, you can step away for a bit, turn off notifications, or even delete your account. Here's how.

1. Open the TikTok app and tap Me, the profile icon in the bottom right.
2. Tap the settings "dots" in the top right corner.
3. Choose Manage Account.
4. Tap Delete Account and follow the onscreen prompts to complete the process.

For more, check out The 8 best iPhone apps of 2021 and the 8 best Android apps of 2021.

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