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How Super-Straight Started a Culture War on TikTok

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Progress toward transgender acceptance has sparked a debate over dating norms. Social-media culture is polarizing the discussion.

Staff writer at The Atlantic

An illustration of TikTok images in red and blue

Getty / The Atlantic

Back in February, Kyle Royce, a 20-year-old in British Columbia, Canada, created a video that proved far more controversial and influential than he had imagined it would be when he uploaded it to TikTok. He had built up a small following poking gentle fun at “Karen” behavior. Occasionally, he would also do live-streams, during which some participants would ask about his background—he’s a straight, cisgender Christian of mixed Asian and white ancestry—and press him on controversial matters of the day. On multiple occasions, he was asked if he would date a trans woman. He was repeatedly told, upon responding no, that his answer was transphobic.

“I felt like I was getting unfairly labeled,” he told me recently. “I’m not transphobic, I see that as a negative term.” Then, he had an idea. “Lots of sexualities are being created,” he said, alluding to the proliferation of terms such as pansexual, demisexual, sapiosexual, and more. Recasting his own preferences as a sexual identity of its own, he reasoned, would be “like a kind of defense” against accusations of perpetrating harm.

In a video trying out his idea, he said:

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Yo, guys, I made a new sexuality now, actually. It’s called “super-straight,” since straight people, or straight men as myself––I get called transphobic because I wouldn’t date a trans woman.

You know, they’re like, “Would you date a trans woman?”

No.

“Why? That’s a female.”

No, that’s not a real woman to me. I want a real woman. “No, you’re just transphobic.” So now, I’m “super-straight”! I only date the opposite gender, women, that are born women. So you can’t say I’m transphobic now, because that’s just my sexuality, you know.

When I asked what his intentions were on a spectrum from 100 percent earnest to 100 percent trolling, he had trouble answering. Nowhere seemed quite right. He was trying to accurately convey his dating preferences and truly felt frustrated by others’ criticism. But he was also trying to make a point by co-opting a norm of LGBTQ activists: that one’s professed sexual or gender identity is unassailable.

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Had the video spread no more widely than Royce’s followers, a low-stress exchange of ideas might have ensued. Instead his video quickly garnered many thousands of likes and shares. Supporters deemed the term super-straight an ingenious gambit forcing dogmatic social-justice advocates to live by the same standards they enforce on others. Royce also drew a lot of critics. Haters argued that super-straight was a cruel parody of all LGBTQ people. The video quickly disappeared from TikTok, perhaps because many users flagged it as violating the app’s rules. It reappeared about a week later, presumably after human content moderators reviewed it. That’s when it went massively viral. My TikTok feed, usually a respite of surfing highlights, recipe ideas, and Generation X nostalgia, was overrun by super-straight. Fans and critics alike commented on and shared videos about the subject—or posted their own. “Let me break this down: trans women are women,” declared the TikTok creator @tblizzy, who currently has more than 425,000 followers. “So if you’re a heterosexual man and you said you wouldn’t date a trans woman because it’s a preference, that’s just transphobia, period.”

The super-straight meme was soon proliferating on Reddit, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. The more it spread, the more people encountered it not through the original video, but through derivative content. Someone made a super-straight flag. Encountering the black-and-orange banner and the hashtag #SuperStraight, many internet users presumed they were encountering a random attack on trans people. “Have you seen these colors on a TikTok video? Scroll [away] instantly,” a critic warned in one of many response clips. “These men are known as Super Straights. We have to keep them off the For You page.” (“For You” is  where users see whatever TikTok serves up based on an algorithm that boosts videos that garner interactions.) “Our trans family is being targeted, and we have to keep them safe. Do not comment, like, or watch their content. Pause it and report it.” Many users joined this effort to report fellow creators and censor their accounts in the name of safety. This mobilization in turn deepened many super-straight fans’ conviction that they were the victims of discrimination.

For me, the fight over the term super-straight suggested something else: that social-media culture is disorienting to many people in ways that make hard conversations harder still, and that no faction in Gen Z will win an argument about matters of the heart by tarring the other side as problematic. Few decisions are more personal than the choice of a partner. Questions about an individual’s sexuality need not degenerate into public fights about who is bigoted; an individual heterosexual man’s hesitation to date trans women need not provoke trans-rights supporters or encourage anti-trans trolls. But whenever an asserted identity comes to double as a hashtag, drama is sure to follow.

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If you started dating in the 1990s, as I did, odds are you’ve never been asked, “Would you date a trans person?” To their credit, Millennials and Gen Zers have far surpassed their elders in welcoming trans people into the American cultural mainstream. Because of that progress, younger people will grapple with sensitive questions many of their elders never contemplated in the era before widespread trans visibility, when a cisgender person might never knowingly encounter a trans person in daily life.

Late-20th-century film and television did occasionally feature trans characters. And the hostility of many Hollywood portrayals is one reason why some trans-rights supporters remain hypervigilant to perceived slights, particularly when they concern straight men encountering trans women. In the Netflix documentary Disclosure, a chronicle of Hollywood portrayals of trans people over the decades, the actress and writer Jen Richards, who is transgender, reflects on movie scenes where a character in a romantic entanglement with a straight man is revealed to be a trans woman with a penis. In both the 1992 drama The Crying Game and the 1994 comedy Ace Ventura: Pet Detective—which spoofs The Crying Game’s climactic scene—a straight man retches in disgust. In some other films, the men erupt in violence. Without film representations of trans people, Richards reflected, “I might not have ever internalized that sense of being monstrous, of having fears around disclosure, of seeing myself as something abhorrent, and as a punch line and as a joke. I might be able to go on a date with a man without having the image of men vomiting.”

She continued:

When you start watching trans clips back to back, you see how often all the people around the trans character feel betrayed or lied to. But frankly, I kind of hate the idea of disclosure. And the sense that it presupposes that there is something to disclose. It reinforces their assumption that there is a secret that is hidden and that I have a responsibility to tell others. And that presupposes that the other person might have some kind of issue or problem with what’s to be disclosed, and that their feelings matter more than mine.

Hollywood has seldom portrayed the issue of disclosure from a trans person’s perspective. But such a conversation did happen in 2016 on the show Horace and Pete. In one scene, Horace, a heterosexual man, meets Rhonda, a woman. They have mutually enjoyable sex. At breakfast the next morning, they get to know each other. Horace notes that he has two adult children who are the same age but not twins—an anomaly that prompts him to reluctantly admit that years earlier he had an affair with the sister of his then-pregnant wife. When it’s Rhonda’s turn to talk about herself, she makes a comment raising the possibility that she was “born a woman in a male body.” Horace cannot tell if she is kidding. That makes him uncomfortable as he questions her:

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Horace: You would have to tell somebody a thing like that.

Rhonda: Well, but you didn’t ask me before we had sex. You just told me about your big, special penis and invited me upstairs.

Horace: But you don’t have to ask people which one are you before you get started. A person has the right to assume certain things.

Rhonda: Did I have a right to assume that you aren’t a sexual deviant who did the unthinkable with his special penis? In some cultures what you did in your family is considered a crime punishable by death. So did you have an obligation to tell me what kind of man I was getting intimate with instead of springing it on me like the morning paper over some eggs?

Until very recently, very few people would have shamed a man like Horace for wanting to know if a prospective sex partner was trans or for feeling that he wouldn’t want to have sex with a trans woman for inarticulable reasons. “A 2018 study showed that only 1.8 percent of straight women and 3.3 percent of straight men would date a transgender person,” The Advocate reported in 2019. “A small minority of cisgender lesbians (29 percent) and gays (11.5 percent) would be willing. Bisexual/queer/nonbinary participants (these were all combined into one group) were most open to having a trans partner, but even among them, just a slim majority (52 percent) were open to dating a transgender person.”

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Whenever people are mismatched in their desires, the outcome can be difficult for all involved. Trans people face particular challenges: Knowing that much of your preferred dating pool disqualifies you before meeting you must be deeply frustrating. For some trans people, the subject is additionally freighted with fear that by seeking sex, they might risk violence. I empathize with people on the other side of this divide, too. Most have dating preferences that don’t necessarily imply a negative view of people who fall outside them––I’d be averse to dating an 18-year-old or a 60-year-old, yet I neither hate nor fear either age cohort––and that they might not be able to change even if they wanted to. Claims that only bigots would decline to date a trans person strike some commentators as a form of coercion. “It’s obviously completely valid to exclude trans people from your dating pool if you’re not attracted to them, and anyone who says otherwise is honestly kind of rapey,” argues the YouTuber Blaire White, who is trans. Nevertheless, among young people on social media, the perspectives that Jen Richards and the Rhonda character expressed are now common enough that some cis and trans people harshly criticize trans-exclusionary daters.

The longer social-media shamers condemn preferences that the overwhelming majority of people share, the more inevitable the pushback. For many, Royce’s meme was defensible precisely because it was couched as a plea for inclusion. “The fact that people are upset about this new sexuality being created is a little hypocritical coming from the folks who created abrosexual, demisexual, gerontosexual, gynosexual, intrasexual, kalosexual, multisexual, pomosexual, sapiosexual, and literally hundreds more,” White said on YouTube. “Even though super-straight is a joke, the irony is that it’s a lot more valid than a lot of those I just listed. Actually, all of them. Y’all are releasing new sexualities more than I release new videos, like it’s your full-time job. But you freak out when someone else does it?”

As super-straight spread and mutated, Royce watched the debate with alarm. He was still associated with the meme he created, but it had acquired its own momentum. Digital bullies began going through his Instagram posts, harassing his friends, and targeting his mother’s business with negative reviews, causing her to fear for her safety and beg him to delete his social media. He also felt a responsibility to urge others to use his creation for good, not evil. “Don’t use super-straight to spread hate,” he said in a follow-up video. “The super-straight motto is: ‘You do you; love and respect everybody else.’”

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Of course, matters were beyond his control. A TikTok user who saw the original video might come away with a radically different understanding of it than, say, folks on Reddit. “The super-straight video started to spread on social media, eventually hitting the /pol board of 4chan, known for being a home to far-right trolls, and growing from there,” Insider reported. “The board members discussed creating and sharing memes about being super straight to ‘drive a wedge’ within LGBTQ communities and ‘use the left’s tactics against themselves’ … The posts also directly linked the abbreviation for super straight to the Nazi SS.”

On TikTok many creators who associated themselves with the label were people of color. Some gay and lesbian people began declaring themselves “super-gay” and “super-lesbian”—meaning that they too felt attracted only to people who are cisgender. Visual memes soon emerged. In some, failing to recognize self-professed “super-gays” or “super-straights” was an intolerant act.

Learn the difference. pic.twitter.com/PnsS9TCyct

— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) March 7, 2021

In a video aimed at a super-straight TikToker, the YouTuber Eden Estrada retorted, “Your entire sexuality is based off of trans women, and yet I bet not a single one has ever paid attention to you. Look, I can literally care less what any ugly random turd in the middle of America is attracted to. But I do think that it’s really sus when these insecure little shrimps resort to making up a whole sexuality to bring down an entire community who has literally done nothing to them.”

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Another negative response was more brusque:

#superstraight i proudly say that i am a superphobic pic.twitter.com/xdXUcne5tt

— eevee is crying /pos — ※ (@bentokoii) March 6, 2021

Super-straight adherents celebrated antagonistic reactions like that because, in their telling, they exposed progressives as hypocritically threatening violence to others on the basis of their sexual orientation. At its most dysfunctional, the meme war descended into a kind of mutually assured destruction: Many people invoking super-straight sounded like assholes. Many people denouncing it sounded like hypocrites. And the incentives were perverse: In a culture war, assholery or hypocrisy against the other side can raise your status with allies.

Internet discourse does not have to be that way. A better approach begins by recognizing that the worst of what we see is not representative. Super-straight went viral in February, but it has since become the social-media equivalent of a multi-variant pandemic. No matter how far you go down the rabbit hole of YouTube compilations of super-straight TikTok videos and memes, you’ll remain unable to generalize about it accurately. If someone assures you that super-straight is “just” the expression of a new sexual orientation, or “just” transphobic bigots—and especially if they tell you it’s “just” Nazis, or that its critics are “just” hypocritical and intolerant social-justice warriors—don’t let them mislead you. All of this is too expansive, fragmented, and varied for anyone to fully grasp or neatly characterize.

When its layers overwhelmed me, I turned to the video essayist Natalie Wynn, whose YouTube channel, ContraPoints, excels at getting fans to grapple with the complexity of fraught subjects. Wynn is transgender. In a recent phone interview about the super-straight debate, I asked her how the public conversation about dating and trans people might proceed more constructively.

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She expressed frustration both with people who aggressively volunteer that they don’t want to date trans people and with people who aggressively ask others if they would date a trans person––and cautioned that the latter group is not representative of trans people. “If my only impression of what trans people were came from Twitter,” she joked, “I would be a transphobe.” And what’s more, she said, cis allies are often the ones who are pushing the matter.

Wynn does believe that “being totally closed-minded to dating a trans person often comes from a place of ignorance about trans people.” In her telling, people who believe that they’d never want to date a trans person should consider the possibility that they could change their mind––especially if they grew up in an environment where negative stereotypes about trans people abounded and attractive portrayals of trans people or relationships with them were nonexistent.

“To come out as trans, which I didn’t do until I was in my mid-to-late 20s, I had to overcome an upbringing of misinformation, stereotyping, and self-loathing,” she said. Might such negativity mislead cis people, too? “Often, when a person finds themselves attracted for the first time to a trans person, that comes as a shock to them,” she argued, as their intellectual preconceptions turn out to be at odds with how they feel. They want what they didn’t think they’d ever want. “That’s how this happens. Often people are surprised. They think they are not attracted to trans people, but then there’s a trans person they’re attracted to. That’s how attraction works. It’s not this ideological thing.” She also noted that “who you date is a really personal thing. And no one is ever going to respond well to being told that it’s bigoted to date who they want to date or to not date who they don’t want to date.” Berating other people “is never going to elicit any reaction other than causing them to get more locked down in their view.”

Notice how her approach points away from drawing sweeping conclusions based on meme analysis and back toward questions about how best to understand how fellow humans think and feel. Others can challenge or contest her viewpoints and understanding by invoking their own experiences or insights. But everyone would benefit from forswearing tactical stigma and shaming, laying down their memes, calling truce in the culture wars, and talking out their differences like friends.

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TIKTOK

TikTok Expands Creator Tipping and Video Gifts, Providing More Monetization and Marketing Options

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TikTok continues to expand its creator monetization tools with the addition of video tipping and virtual gifts for regular uploads, in addition to live-streams in the app.

To be clear, live tipping and digital gifts have been available for selected live-stream creators via its Creator Next program since last year. This new expansion brings the same functionality to regular TikTok videos, which will add another way for users to generate direct income from their TikTok videos.

TikTok Creator Next

As you can see in these screenshots, shared by social media expert Matt Navarra (via Dan Schenker), to be eligible for the new Creator Next program, users will need to have at least 1,000 followers, and will need to have generated more than 1,000 video views in the previous 30 days.

Though TikTok does note that these requirements vary by region – TechCrunch has reported that creators need to have at least 100k followers to qualify in some cases.

As explained by TikTok:

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The new Tips feature allows people to directly show gratitude to creators for their content, much like recognizing exceptional service or giving a standing ovation. As is standard for tipping in person, with Tips creators will receive 100% of the tip value.”

Tip payments will be processed by Stripe, with creators required to sign up to manage their earnings in the app.

“With Video Gifts, also available today, creators can now collect Diamonds not only by going LIVE but also by posting videos. This also gives people an all-new way to interact and engage with content they love.”

TikTok live gifts

That will provide expanded capacity to generate real money from posting, without having to go live, which will open new doors to many TikTok creators.

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In addition to this, TikTok’s also lowering the threshold for those who can list their profiles in its Creator Marketplace brand collaboration platform, which enables businesses to find TikTok influencers to partner with on in-app campaigns.

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TikTok Creator marketplace

Up till now, creators have required 100k followers to qualify for these listings, but now, TikTok is reducing that number to 10k, which will further expand available opportunities for both users and brands.

That could make it much easier to find relevant creators to partner with, in a lot more niches, which will add more considerations into your TikTok posting and engagement process.

As noted, these are the latest in TikTok’s broader efforts to provide comparable monetization opportunities, in order to keep its top stars posting to the platform, as opposed to drifting off to YouTube or Instagram instead, which have more established monetization systems.

The advantage that other apps have in this respect is that longer videos can include pre-roll and mid-roll ads, facilitating direct monetization, which TikTok can’t utilize given the shorter nature of its clips. As such, it needs to look to alternate funding methods, which will also include eCommerce listings, with direct product displays now the primary source of income for the Chinese version of the app.

The platform’s continued growth facilitates even more opportunities in this respect, with more brands looking to tap into the various opportunities of the platform, and partner with creators to maximize their presence.

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How popular, and valuable, direct tipping and gifting can be is more variable, as some dedicated fan bases will pay, while others will see no reason to donate for what they can already access for free.

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But even so, it adds more opportunity, and the lower thresholds for monetization will see many more opportunities across the board in the app.

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Shorter Videos Are In Demand. Here’s How Different Social Media Platforms Are Reacting.

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With TikTok and Instagram Reels slowly conquering social media marketing, there’s no mistake: Short videos are in demand.

The average length for most, if not all, business videos is only six minutes long. And that number is set to decrease as consumers look for shorter videos.

With that in mind, why are short videos in demand? What platforms are implementing short-form videos the best? And most importantly, how can they benefit your business?

TikTok – Changing consumerism, one video at a time

Where shorter videos are concerned, TikTok has always led the industry. What started as a merger with Musical.ly quickly became one of the world’s most powerful social media platforms. And what made it so famous? The same concept that made Vine viral short videos.

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TikTok has over 1 billion active users, twice as many as Snapchat and Pinterest. For reference, Twitter only has 397 million users. With such a massive user-base, the only thing keeping the platform alive are the 15-second-long videos.

But why are short videos so popular? Simple – people don’t have time on their hands. When they open apps like TikTok and Instagram, they’re more likely to spend time watching shorter videos.  And businesses are already catching up.

The impact of Instagram Reels

With the invention of Stories by Snapchat, other platforms like Instagram caught up on short videos. Instagram Reels presents adults and young users with a more straightforward way to tell others about their day. It employs quick photos and videos that are only available for 24 hours instead of being permanently posted. Now engagement is encouraged, especially after Instagram included the “Swipe” option. This has allowed e-commerce sites to both advertise their products and make instant messaging easier.

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Youtube has joined the bandwagon

While YouTube is more or less a platform for long-form videos, its recent update offers shorter vertical videos. Known as YouTube Shorts, the feature allows creators to engage with their audience in under 60 seconds.

But YouTube has another trick up its sleeve, and this one is mainly towards advertisers. It is “YouTube TrueView” and is the primary advertising technology for YouTube. Through this, advertisers can promote long or short videos, with some being skippable after five seconds.

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However, since most people are unlikely to click on longer ads, YouTube now offers 6-second non-skippable ads. The clickthrough rate for shorter 15 and 30-second ads is around 70%, a whopping number for any business.

It’s time to say goodbye to IGTV

With Instagram’s IGTV coming off as less captivating than its Reels and video posts, it has decided to remove IGTV. Instead, it has a separate section for videos. These videos will appear on a person’s profile and can be viewed from the Instagram app.

The change they made here is that videos posted to the Instagram feed can be up to 60 minutes long. The exact reason for doing this is not confirmed. But it seems like Instagram wants a seamless platform where short and long videos co-exist.

This makes long videos more accessible to users using the Instagram app. And it helps promote video tutorials that people typically do not consume on social media apps.

Another significant change is that Instagram videos that are longer can be monetized, a feature not available on Reels. This significantly shifts the focus towards creators who don’t sell a service and want to gain cash through Instagram.

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Does this mean long-form videos are out of the picture?

With short-form videos becoming more popular among consumers, will long-form videos die out? While it’s highly recommended for any business to create videos as short as possible, the answer isn’t that black and white.

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While short-form videos will drive traffic from new users, long-form videos are better for brand loyalty. Shorter videos will get more engagement and show up on new users’ feeds. But longer videos will be the backbone of your business.

Of course, that depends on what service you’re offering. Ecommerce companies will want to direct their attention towards short-form videos and ads. However, long-form videos are better suited for when you want to go in-depth about product details. That is, of course, only after you’ve grabbed the user’s attention with a short-form video.

Companies that offer webinars will benefit from longer videos. And so will companies that post interviews. However, promos and how-to videos should remain under a minute or two, depending on how long the tutorial needs to be.

Essentially, ask yourself two questions:

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  • First, can the video content be summarized in a short-form video?
  • Do you want to merely catch the attention of the consumer or develop brand loyalty?

The correct formula is neither short nor long, but a mix of both.

What this all means for an entrepreneur

Short-form videos hold substantial market value, especially for new businesses. Take the example of the Dollar Shave Club. What started as a viral video on YouTube grew to become a behemoth of a brand.

And that’s not where the examples end. There are countless success stories like this one that prove the value of short videos.

Short videos have a higher clickthrough rate, and for entrepreneurs, that’s all you need. Short videos are of particular interest to people with ecommerce businesses. For example, 84% of people say they are more compelled to buy a product by watching a video. And the statistics keep on showing a friendlier short-video market.

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There is no doubt that short-form videos are gradually creeping up the graph. And while long-form videos are great for information and brand loyalty, shorter videos are better for PR.

This begs one last question: Are videos beneficial for you? The answer is – yes!

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How to Make a TikTok Video: Beginners Start Here

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Let’s face it, TikTok is the moment.

And with 1 billion monthly active users, it’s time to join the action and get your brand out there to a wider audience!

Want to learn how to make a TikTok Video but don’t know where to start? Don’t sweat it! We broke down all the steps and tools you’ll need to make a viral-worthy first video and make sure your debut is anything but cringe.

Download the full Social Trends report to get an in-depth analysis of the data you need to prioritize and plan your social strategy in 2022.

How to create a TikTok account

First things first, you’ll need to create a TikTok account.

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There are different ways to sign up for one: you can use your phone number, email address or social media account. Here’s how to do it using your phone number.

1. Download TikTok from Google Play or the App Store.

2. Open the TikTok App on your iPhone or Android.

3. Click the “Me” or “Profile” icon at the bottom-right of your screen.

profile icon on TikTok

4. Choose a method to sign up (we’re choosing “use phone or email”)

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sign up for TikTok using phone or email

5. Enter your birth date and phone number (make sure this is accurate because it’s how you’ll retrieve passwords and confirm your account).

enter birthday when signing up on TikTok

6. Enter the 6-digit code sent to that phone number (see, told ya!)

7. You did it! Celebrate by scrolling TikTok for too many hours.

How to make a TikTok video

Here’s how to get started on your very first TikTok video. Luckily for you, it’s way easier than learning this TikTok Shuffle dance.

1. Hit the + sign at the bottom of your screen.

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2. You can upload photos and videos from your phone’s library or make a video directly using the TikTok camera.

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3. If recording directly, hit the Record button at the bottom of the screen. Hit it again when you’re done recording. The default video mode is “Quick” which is for 15 second videos but you can switch it to “Camera” for more editing options and longer videos (15s, 60s and 3 mins), or “Templates” to create a specific style of video.

record button on the bottom of TikTok screen

4. Tap the check mark when you’re done shooting all your footage.

tap checkmark after shooting footage

5. Make any edits or changes on the post page. All your edits are on the right sidebar of the screen. Also, add music or sounds by hitting “Add sound” at the top of the screen.

add sound on TikTok

6. Post that video and share it everywhere! Make sure to include a description with some hashtags so it finds its way to your audience.

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post video on TikTok with description

How to make a TikTok with multiple videos

Instead of taking one long video, why not capture shorter videos and edit them together to make your TikTok video? Here’s how to do that (and you don’t need a film degree).

1. Hit that “+” sign to start your video

2. You can either shoot multiple videos directly by hitting that record button after each clip, building up your video with different shots. Or, you can hit the “Upload” button next to the record button and add multiple videos and photos you have stored on your phone.

3. Select all your media and tap Next.

4. You can now sync sound across your videos and make adjustments (or try “Auto sync” which will do the syncing up for you.)

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sync sound on TikTok

automatically sync clips

5. Hit Next when done. You’ll be brought to a preview screen where you can further add sounds, more effects, text, and stickers.

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hit next and add suggested sounds

6. Tap Next when you’re done editing your video and proceed to the Post screen.

7. Remember to throw in a description and some hashtags and bingo-bango-bongo you’re the Steven Spielberg of TikTok!

5 things to know before creating your first TikTok

TikTok style is less polished than other types of video

Don’t worry about being too precious with your videos. On TikTok, videos are meant to be candid, and natural—and they should show off your personality. Things like perfect edits, smooth transitions or flawless lighting shouldn’t get in the way of your idea and your own charisma.

Sure, there are lots of editing options, effects and filters to choose from (what the heck is the difference between B3 and G4 filters anyways?) but the real star is you —or, at least all 6 of these friends belting out Lady Gaga for the #caughtinabadromance challenge at this bachelorette. If that’s not candid, I don’t know what is.

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@ariellehartford

That finger stole the show! 😂😂😂 #bachelorettetrip #gatlinburg #caughtinabadromamce

♬ original sound – Arielle Hartford

You don’t have to dance

Good news! You don’t have to spend 2 hours trying to perfect the LaLisa dance tutorial to make sure your video stands out (unless you want to, then no judgment over here!).

There are so many different ways to engage your followers that don’t involve you popping and locking in your living room in front of a ring light (but again, no judgement if you do, except maybe from your pet and their adorable judging eyes).

You also don’t have to attempt whatever this is.

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@sdavidrodriguez

♬ Grab Da Wall & Rock Da Boat – 504 Boyz & Weebie

Hashtags can help more people see your post

It’s no secret a good hashtag can go a long way on TikTok. Strategic use of hashtags will help people find your videos who don’t already follow you, and maybe even see it on their For You Page (FYP).

Find the best hashtags to grow your views and help get your content recognized by the algorithm. You worked so hard on it, might as well show it off to as many people as possible.

The right song can go a long way

Attaching a trending song to your video or audio from a popular TikTok video can help it get seen by more people. This app has a big music following (lots of new songs are intentionally promoted through the app to help them climb the music charts) so lassoing your video to one of these shooting stars is only going to help you get on more FYP and in front of new audiences.

@suzyjonesmusic

♬ original sound – Suzy Jones

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Your greatest asset is you

Don’t overthink it, just come up with a simple idea and let your personality shine through. The sense of intimacy and community that TikTok brings is why people love this app—it feels personal.

Even if you’re doing a TikTok challenge or trend that’s popular, the thing that will make you stand out is your unique take on it. It’s not about gimmicks but about putting your best self out there. Nothing should feel too staged or self-aware (that’s cringe territory). Pretend your audience are your good friends and approach it with that energy!

@janikon_No, I can’t re-record this, I’m laughing too hard #fyp♬ original sound – Stu (he/him)

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