A guide to the latest social media platform that's taking youth culture by storm.

In an age where social media changes as frequently as the weather forecast, the rise and fall of popular apps is to be expected. First it was Myspace, then Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram … and those are just the big players. TikTok, the newest app to join the ranks of popular social media platforms, came out in 2017 and has grown tremendously as social distancing forced the world into their own homes.

A video sharing app similar to the now-defunct Vine, TikTok allows users to post, watch or comment on videos that last anywhere from 15 to 60 seconds. Videos often are set to songs or audio clips from other videos in the app. Users can also “duet” a video, where they attach a video of themselves reacting or adding on to a previous post. Users can find different videos or “communities” of users—covering such topics as cooking tutorials, fashion advice, Harry Potter reenactments, movie and book reviews, and more—through different hashtags listed in the video’s captions. Each user's feed, which provides an endless scroll of content similar to a Facebook or Twitter feed, is based on an algorithm generated by the types of content the user had previously viewed or liked. This allows TikTok to figure out what you are looking for when you open the app and provide an instantaneous stream of videos.

When you open the app for the first time, you’ll be asked to select from a variety of interests and types of content for the algorithm to begin showing you right off the bat. You’ll then be taken to your feed—no account required!—where you can swipe up and down through a variety of videos. On the right side of the screen, you’ll see a few icons. The top takes you to the video creator’s page, where you can view other videos they’ve made and follow the creator (similar to following someone on Twitter or Instagram). Below that, in order, are icons for liking, commenting on and sharing a video outside of the app. At the bottom is an icon representing the song or audio clip used in the video; clicking that takes you to other videos that use the same audio file.

You can browse TikTok endlessly without having an account of your own, but you’ll need to create one to follow, like, comment or post your own content.

Similar to Instagram, TikTok has created a new kind of social media famous, with stars like Charli and Dixie D’amelio, Addison Rae and Chase Hudson leading the growing crowd of “TikTokers.” These influencers shot to fame through their now-iconic dance moves. But the app isn’t just about dancing; from comedic skits to smoothie tutorials to relationship advice, TikTok provides a variety communities and opportunities for time-wasting—er, entertainment.  

To help you get started, we asked the Columbus Monthly summer interns to suggest their favorite TikTokers—including some from right here in Columbus.

Sophia Englehart’s Top 3

1. Joe Mele (@mmmjoemele)

Talk about a hilarious father-son bonding experience! Joe and his dad, or Pops, as Joe affectionately calls him, make hilarious dad posts, dress-up compilations and accent challenges. Recommended post

2. Cian Ducrot (@cianducrot)

An Irish/French singer-songwriter, hype man and all-around sweetheart, Ducrot gives tips for living with female roommates, dealing with day-to-day problems and managing a music career during the pandemic. Recommended post

3. Dalton Miller (@ohiodalt)

It’s easy to forget, with quarantine, how beautiful and unique our home city of Columbus is. Miller uses his videos to showcase the many hidden corners and beauties of Columbus such as murals, tours of the city and sunset appreciation posts. Recommended post

Chaz McPeak’s Top 3

1. David Dobrik (@daviddobrik)

Dobrik is a popular YouTube comedian who carries over his hilarious antics and personality to the TikTok platform. Recommended post

2. Zach King (@zachking)

Mind-blowing editing skills and imaginative illusions make King a must-watch. Recommended post

3. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (@columbuszoo)

While not a frequent poster, the local page opts for quality over quantity with wholesome and heartwarming videos that showcase the zoo’s fun critters. Recommended post

Alexis Florence’s Top 3

1. Garden Marcus (@gardenmarcus)

His plant tips, healthy recipes and positive life advice make Marcus the perfect TikToker for the aspiring quarantine gardener. Recommended post

2. Harvard Business Review (@harvardbusinessreview)

That’s right, even this almost-100-year-old publication has jumped on the TikTok train, with videos ranging from book recommendations to guacamole hacks. Recommended post

3. City of Columbus (@cityofcolumbus)

Why does a city have a TikTok account? I don’t know, but I definitely think the city’s social media manager deserves a raise. Recommended post

Tatyana Tandanpolie’s Top 3

1. Tabitha Brown (@iamtabithabrown)

She’s a southern sweetheart, mom, actress and home cook who shares her favorite vegan foods and recipes, joy and uplifting messages with her 4 million followers. Her most popular recipe was for carrot bacon! Recommended post

2. Darius Williams (@iamdariuscooks)

Want deliciously creative takes on classic dishes? Darius Williams has you covered. His cooking tutorials showcase dishes like fried chicken, pound cakes and a soul food cake and are both wildly entertaining and informative. Recommended post

3. Lauren Ashleigh (@laurenashleighart)

A Columbus-based artist, teacher and barista who creates amazingly colorful and moving pieces from magnets and shoes, as well as murals and paintings. She recently painted a powerful mural during the Black Lives Matter protests Downtown. Recommended post

Ally Melnik’s Top 3

1. Ari Elkins (@arijelkins)

I constantly need music playing and when I get sick of the thousands of songs I know too well, Elkins saves me with new playlists to fit different moods and times of the day. Recommended post

2. Sheena Melwani (@sheena.melwani)

Not only is Melwani a great piano player and singer, but her dad is great at interrupting her to say what he thinks of the songs she’s performing. Recommended post

3. Sir Yacht (@siryacht)

He may not be Columbus-based, but Sir Yacht is the unofficial CEO of Ohio and I’m grateful that someone is willing to share with the world all the weird things that make Ohio great. Recommended post