The ultimate guide to Tik Tok, the hot app Gen Z is obsessed with and Facebook is terrified of

For teens around the world, the social media scene has seen a new app making its way to center stage in the last year: a short-form video platform called TikTok.

TikTok is a product of Chinese company ByteDance, and came to the U.S. in August 2018 after merging with the similar platform Musical.ly. Since it first launched in 2017, TikTok has garnered more than 1.2 billion downloads according to analyst firm Sensor Tower, and its popularity has skyrocketed as users — especially Gen Z — are increasingly turning to the video app as their go-to social platform.

If you need proof that TikTok is the wave of the future, look no further than Old Town Road, the mega-hit song of the summer, which got its start on the app.

TikTok doesn't necessarily bring anything especially new to social media, but it brings together the most popular and Gen Z-adored features under one app: Vine's video snippets for copious amounts of content consumption; Instagram's user feeds for easily following influencers; Twitter's trending hashtags for keeping up with what's going viral; and video game-inspired techniques for encouraging in-app spending.

Essentially, if you're not already on TikTok (or at least familiar with it), you're already behind.

Here's how to use the TikTok app — from tracking the latest viral memes, to following the newest crop of influencers, and creating your own short-form video:

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