Skip to main content

A beginner’s guide to TikTok

By January 20, 2020May 22nd, 2020No Comments

No, you’re not too old for the new app on the block, says Fionnuala Jones

There’s nothing quite like a new social media trend to harshly remind you of the advancement of time. If you’ve found your feed infiltrated by lip-synching teenagers, you’re not alone – TikTok, the social network formerly known as Musical.y, has over 1 billion downloads globally, with audience growth in Ireland that shows no sign of slowing down.



The videos you’ll see on TikTok can largely be divided into two categories that often intersect – music and comedy. TikTok picks up where Musical.y left off, with many of its Gen Z users singing and dancing to their hearts content. But the reason why it’s captured a new audience comes down to the irreverent humour you might remember from video sharing app Vine (RIP), where users shared six-second-long, looping video clips.

If you know, you know – and if not, some trusty internet historians have compiled hours of Vine compilations to get you up to speed with what you’re dealing with tonally across both apps.

You’ll see the two come together in videos where people lip-sync to classic viral moments, e.g. someone lip-synching along to the viral voicemail from Aoife McGregor involving one’s, eh, neck. 


You can expect to see a lot of similarities between TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat. TikTok videos are shot vertically, with the app hosting a plethora of different filters that go well beyond a sepia-tinge. 

TikTok users have two separate feeds – the ‘For You’ page (videos that the app has chosen to highlight) and the ‘Following’ page (content from the accounts you are following, obvs). When you open the app, a video will autoplay on the ‘For You’ page, without you having to select one. Over time, as you ‘like’ videos using the heart, the algorithm with adjust your ‘For You’ page to – hopefully – to deliver you content that you would enjoy.

To explore further, try the magnifying glass icon next to the home icon, where you can search key words and hashtags, as well as explore some of what’s trending. You’ll frequently see creators hashtag their content with #fyp, #foryou or #foryoupage, in an attempt to get on – you guessed it – the ‘For You’ page. A feature on the ‘For You’ page can mean a serious bump in views for users – serious social capital in the world of TikTok.

This app makes me feel old. Am I too old? No! It’s the children who are wrong! As previously mentioned, if you’ve dabbled in any of the previous apps mentioned, than you will have no issue using this app – it’s just a case of finding your niche.


While I’d hasten to describe the app as sophisticated, there’s a lot of nifty editing features within the app that let you flex your creative muscle. For example, you can record videos using an in-app green screen to super-impose an image into the background of your video, you can alter your voice, the options are almost endless.

TikTok has a library full of clips of popular songs, but users can also use their own recordings or “original sound,” which can be anything from the person talking to a different excerpt of a song to a strange viral earworm (at the moment, I’m particularly enjoying a clip from Lady Gaga’s 2009 hit, ‘Monster’). You can click on any song to see more videos of that song.


As you watch and like videos, TikTok’s algorithm will adjust your ‘For You’ page to deliver you content that you’ll (hopefully) enjoy. If you’re looking for some accounts to get, here are some Irish personalities that are making waves on the app.

  • Shauna_the_sheep (342.3k followers) – The undisputed queen of lip-synching. Expect lots of Irish humour.

  • Jamie McNeight  (203.6k followers) – This is one for pun-lovers. His video on Beyoncé vs. buoyancy will make you cry.

  • KeilidhMua (1.3m followers) – You should be familiar with Keilidh’s insane makeup transformations already. If not, this is the perfect introduction.

Also, while your favourite celeb might not be on TikTok yet, if they have kids, you can be rest assured that they’re on it – search for Jaya Harper to see Laura Dern giving it loads in the background of her videos, or Coco Arquette boogeying away with Courtney.


Whether you decide to lean into the absurdism or leave it behind, TikTok isn’t going anywhere. If you’re not particularly keen on lip-synching to Doja Cat or taking part in the Renegade Dance Challenge, there is still content here for you to absolutely lose your mind over.


Leave a Reply