If you’re new to TikTok or are just getting started, you’re not alone. There are thousands of new users every month and it seems many of you are trying to get to grips with this video app.
The design is very straightforward but unless you’re under 16 or have someone to show you what to do, it may take a little while to master. Today we’re going to tackle the basics, like how to send a message on TikTok.
Messaging in TikTok is similar to Snapchat in that you have the option to comment and chat over a video or set up separate chat channels between friends. Either way, you can be chatting with friends or make new friends very quickly in this app.
When you first install TikTok, you have to create an account using your phone number, email address, or log in using Facebook. You can then set your username and add a profile picture. If you have a video to add as a bio, you can do that now or you can go back to the settings and do it later.
Once done, you’re sent to the app. You will see For You which is a system feed of videos chosen randomly for you. As the app gets to know you, it will tune this to what it thinks you will like most. Swipe left for another video or allow the one on-screen to finish to automatically begin another.
To the right of each video is a profile icon, then a heart icon that functions the same as Facebook Likes and a speech bubble for comments. It is these comments that you will use to send messages initially. Under that is a sharing icon for sharing a video on other networks and finally, the tracklisting for the audio played in the video.
Figuring out the interface (or all the buttons and options in the TikTok app) is fairly simple. It does make it easier to know which one does what. When you first open the app videos begin to play instantly.
Although TikTok’s algorithm is a bit of a secret, the videos you see usually have something to do with your location, language, and interests .
- You have options from the home screen at the top to the right, and at the bottom of the app. The home option takes you to the main page of TikTok where videos are automatically played.
- The ‘Search’ option (only available in the app version) allows you to search for other users.
- The ‘Plus’ icon located in the middle is where you tap to add your own gloriously flawless and unique TikTok videos.
- The icon to the right of the ‘Plus’ button is where you will see your activity. This includes any comments, mentions, and new followers.
- The ‘Me’ option to the far right is where you can access the settings, your profile, and more administrative type options
Send a message on TikTok
You have a couple of ways to reach out to someone on TikTok. You can comment on a video they uploaded, respond to a comment they left on one of your videos or contact them directly through their profile.
To send a message in TikTok you will have to be friends or following the account. Depending on the recipient’s privacy settings which are either public or friends only for messages.
Tap on the ‘Me’ option in the TikTok app and tap on ‘Following’ which will take you to your list of friends. Once you’ve tapped on the profile you’d like to contact simply tap on ‘Message’.
If the user is someone who you recently friended you can tap on the icon that looks like a message next to the plus sign to access their profile. This takes you to your recent activity so it’s a slight short cut to the messaging option.
TikTok has amped up its policies to protect younger audiences and prevent spamming. There are a few things you’re limited to on TikTok’s messaging feature:
- Those under 16 years old do not have access to messaging (there’s a whole law and they paid millions of dollars for violations of that law; if you were wondering why)
- You have to set up a valid phone number to send messages. This is a whole anti-spam thing if you’re curious.
It’s understandable that some users are upset about these restrictions, but overall it does protect the user experience. For those who don’t meet the guidelines you can still comment on videos and follow your favorite creators.
Comment on a video in TikTok
When navigating the For You screen above, you will have seen the little speech-bubble icon to the right of the video. It is from here that you can leave a comment on it. Select the speech bubble or where you see ‘Say Something Nice’ and add a comment. Hit Send when you’re finished to send it.
Respond to a Comment in TikTok
You can see comments on your uploads by selecting the video in question and tapping the speech bubble. You will see a list of comments and can select one to respond to. You can the heart or like the comment or tap it to reply. A dialog than then springs from that.
Stop users sending you messages
TikTok does try to avoid harassment wherever possible but nothing is perfect. If you find someone continually messaging you and making a nuisance of themselves, you may like to restrict who can send you messages.
- Select your profile icon from the main screen.
- Select Privacy and Safety in your profile screen.
- Scroll to Safety and change settings for Who Can Send Me Comments, Who Can Duet With Me, Who Can React to Me, and Who Can Send Me Messages.
You can set your account to Private, Public or Friends only. Set the above to Everyone to make your account public, Friends to make it friends only. You get the idea.
Changing this setting helps manage any negativity you might experience while on TikTok. That should be in the minority but it does happen.
Unable to send messages on TikTok
Occasionally you will see a message that says ‘Unable to send’ when you try to leave a comment or message using TikTok. This is usually a temporary thing and will usually be a problem with the TikTok messaging system or an app update you need to download.
I have seen this a couple of times and both times it was an update to the TikTok that I hadn’t seen and not downloaded. TikTok does not give you a message telling you why you can’t perform certain actions so always check for an update.