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How to find and create live videos on TikTok

Going live can bring fun, fame, and even a few Diamonds

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

If you’re just starting to explore TikTok and you want to do a live video (as opposed to the usual recorded TikTok video), I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.

You can’t — at least, not yet.

Unlike Facebook / Instagram, which let anyone create a live video, TikTok only makes live videos available if you’re 16 years old or older and have more than 1,000 followers. Once you qualify, though, it’s a relatively simple process.

But before we go into making a live broadcast, here’s a quick tip on how to find one. Note that, at present, you can only see live feeds from people you are following, so if you are really into live broadcasts, the best thing to do is follow a bunch of people.

To find a live video

  • Tap the Inbox icon at the bottom of the screen
  • Look for the entry that starts with “TikTok: LIVE now:” If there is a current live feed happening, you’ll see it listed here. Otherwise, if you tap on the entry, you’ll see a listing of past live broadcasts.

To gift a favorite creator

Live videos offer one of the few ways that people can show their appreciation of their favorite TikTok personalities in a practical way. TikTok calls it Live Gifting, and while the process is a little convoluted, it is actually a way to toss a coin to your TikToker (but only if you’re at least 18 years old).

Here’s how:

  • First, you have to purchase some virtual coins. Go to your profile page (by tapping the “Me” icon in the lower-right corner).
  • Tap the three lines in the upper-right corner to go to “Settings and privacy.”
  • Select “Balance” > “Recharge.”
  • Select the number of coins you want to buy. For example, you can purchase 70 coins for 99 cents.
  • Select your payment method (through Google Pay, Apple Pay, a credit card, etc.).
You can recharge your coin account on your balance sheet.
You can recharge your coin account on your balance sheet.
Choose how many coins you want to buy.
Choose how many coins you want to buy.

Now, when you are watching a live TikTok video and you like what you see, you can tap the gift icon at the bottom of the screen to select what kind of virtual gift you want to send. (This only works for livestreams, not for recorded content.) Each gift has a different value.

To gift a live creator, tap the “gift” icon on the bottom of the screen.
To gift a live creator, tap the “gift” icon on the bottom of the screen.
Then choose the gift you want to send.
Then choose the gift you want to send.

What does the creator get? Well, besides good feelings from the virtual gift that just jumped across the screen, the creator does get cold, hard cash — although how much isn’t really clear. According to its description, TikTok takes your virtual gift and transforms it into what it calls Diamonds. The creator can then exchange those Diamonds for real money. How much? Says TikTok, “The applicable monetary compensation will be calculated by us based on various factors including the number of Diamonds a user has accrued.”

Want to get in on this? Well, if you’re over 16 and have at least 1,000 followers, here’s how to begin a livestream on TikTok:

How to go live

  • Tap on the plus sign at the bottom of the screen (the same one you always do to start a new video).
  • Below the record button, where it usually just says “Camera” and “Templates,” you’ll also have a new label that says “Live.” Tap it.
  • On the top of the screen, you can now add a description and a cover photo.
  • Tap the big “Go Live” button.

And you’re there!

According to TikTok, if you tap the three dots during your broadcast, you can change several visual settings and filter comments. (And since you’re live, you can also answer comments during the broadcast.) You can also add up to 20 moderators if things start to get busy.

How to check your Diamonds

If you want to see how many gifts you’ve gotten during your live feed, then you just go to the same place you’d buy virtual coins:

  • Tap the three lines in the upper-right corner to go to “Settings and privacy” > “Balance.”
  • Tap “LIVE Gifts” to see how many Diamonds you got today, how many you have in total, and how much actual cash is in your balance. You can withdraw cash by tapping on the “Withdraw” button at the bottom of the screen. Tap on the icon in the upper right corner to see your total earnings and how much you’ve withdrawn.

If you’re serious about your TikTok feeds, then going live is a great way to interact with your fans and friends and to encourage them to check out your recorded videos. And who knows? You may find yourself with a few virtual gifts to boot.