TikTok is a brand-new type of social media platform. Unlike more traditional platforms like Instagram or Twitter where you manually curate your feeds by choosing to follow others — most likely, people you know — TikTok uses an algorithm to curate a highly personalized feed of videos. This algorithm can get shockingly specific as it gathers the videos it thinks you’ll like.
TikTok’s main page is named the For You page — and that really means for you. For instance, after I’d been on TikTok for a while, the algorithm figured out that I’m a grown-up emo kid (it was never a phase, Mom) who is trying to learn French, spends too much time playing The Sims 4, and is also queer. But TikTok’s algorithm didn’t get that shockingly specific by itself. It took time and effort for me to tailor the videos so perfectly to my tastes.
While TikTok does eventually learn the type of videos you like, when an account is brand-new, it can be challenging to find content that appeals to you. At the start, the For You page will typically show mega-viral videos from the app’s most popular users, but if you want to see what other videos and creators are out there, there are a few steps you can follow.
Use the discover tab to find trending sounds, hashtags, and effects
When starting out on TikTok, the easiest way to find videos is by looking at what’s trending. At the bottom of the screen next to the upload button is the Discover icon. Tap on it to find a collection of popular hashtags, sounds, and effects.
By clicking through these videos, finding entertaining content is quick and enjoyable. By saving the sounds or interacting with the videos through likes, sharing, or commenting, the algorithm starts to get an idea of what you like.
Search for things you like
While you’re in the Discover tab, use the search bar up top to look for topics you enjoy. When I first typed “Science” into the search bar, Tiktok showed me all the top videos for that topic. If I wanted to explore even more, I could have clicked through the options for users, hashtags, and more.
As opposed to looking at trending sounds and topics, this method is an easy way to find a variety of videos with different hashtags and music. Liking the videos (by clicking the heart-shaped “like” button on the side) and following the creators (by clicking the creator’s icon on the side of the screen and then on the red “Follow” button) will help ensure that the type of content you enjoy comes up on your For You page.
Click on sounds
The more the algorithm learns about you, the more you’ll start to notice trends within whatever TikTok rabbit hole you’ve gone down. A lot of the time, these trends are built around sounds. The sounds can be audio clips from popular media, music, or even audio created by another user.
In the bottom-right corner of a video, you’ll see a rotating circle, and this is where the sound lives. By pressing that, it’s easy to find a trove of other videos that use that sound (if the sound is trending or at least relatively popular).
Although you’ll only be watching videos that use the same sound, this is a great way to find a large variety of creators that might not have made it to your For You Page.
TikTok can be a great tool to pass the time, socialize, or learn new things. At the start, though, it can take a little time to build up the patterns before the algorithm begins to do the work for you. Just be careful — it’s very easy to accidentally lose three hours of your day watching TikToks without realizing it.