TikTok is best known for being the launching pad for countless influencers who took advantage of the app’s lip-syncing functionality and helped the platform evolve into what it’s become today. If you’re at all active on social media, you’ve undoubtedly seen a viral video (or a recipe, or a clothing item) that was born on TikTok.
But did you know that software developers can use TikTok’s API to build custom features and applications? Whether you’re an experienced coder or you’re just getting started, here’s everything you need to use and extract value for TikTok’s API.
How to Use the TikTok API
There are a couple of ways that (aspiring) developers can get access to TikTok’s API key. Most folks start by visiting TikTok’s developer page, which is a fairly straightforward process. Others opt to get access through GitHub, which is a developer community on which people can copy projects, submit suggestions to their colleagues, and ask for feedback.
While each has its pros and cons, let’s dive into both ways to access TikTok’s API.
TikTok for Developers
Many platforms provide official documentation and platforms for developers to use their APIs—and TikTok is no exception.
To get access to TikTok’s API, download it by visiting developers.tiktok.com. From here, you can sign up for an account on TikTok’s developer portal and access very detailed documentation on how to build custom TikTok integrations into your existing application.
While TikTok offers an official way to get its API key, there are several unofficial ways via GitHub to gain access. In addition to the community aspects we mentioned, GitHub is also used by developers around the world to host their open-source projects.
For developers who prefer unofficial wrappers for the TikTok API, GitHub pages tend to offer features that you can’t get on the developer portal. Additionally, developers do a lot of work within GitHub—so having the TikTok API baked into a site that they already use daily makes it significantly more user-friendly.
However, keep in mind that these are not official API keys. Support for these API keys will vary based on…whoever on GitHub happened to put it together. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that you’re not violating any of TikTok’s terms of service while you’re using these unofficial keys.
Popular Languages Used With TikTok’s API
To take advantage of the API functionality in TikTok, developers rely on a handful of programming languages to scrape User, Trending, and Hashtag data. This allows developers to add features to apps such as a scrolling view of the most popular videos and social sharing buttons placed on the most relevant pages in an app. Let’s explore some of the most commonly used languages with TikTok’s API.
When you search Google for “TikTok API,” Python appears in most of your results. Developers find it easy to gather information from TikTok using Python across several endpoints. In this blog post on Dev Genius, software engineer David Teather explains how you can use an open-source TikTok Python package to generate TikTok compilations.
Oh, one note about TikTok API endpoints: An endpoint is a term that describes one end of a communication channel. The folks at Apipheny explain that TikTok API endpoints can be thought of like websites. While you might have a base URL such as www.skillshare.com, an endpoint might include www.skillshare.com/software.
Why You’d Use TikTok’s API
The use cases for TikTok’s API are seemingly endless. To help you get started, let’s explain a few of the most common reasons why TikTok developers leverage the API.
Create Custom Share Buttons
Before writing this article, I clicked a “Share to Instagram” button on a photo app that I use. And while some of these custom share buttons come preinstalled on many applications, TikTok’s API enables developers to add a similar feature for, well, TikTok.
This feature is powerful for two reasons. First, it enables your users to quickly share content they’ve created on one of the most popular social media platforms on the planet, all with just a single click (or tap). Beyond that, when that content goes viral, your application also gains additional exposure.
Ever wonder how folks put video content onto websites? Most of the time, they’ve simply clicked an “Embed” button within an application and pasted some code into their content management system. As TikTok’s official documentation explains, embedded videos also provide proper attribution by displaying the video’s creator, the description, and background sound within TikTok’s custom player on your website.
TikTok is responsible for some of the most viral content on the internet. If you’ve ever wanted to download a video, you probably found that it’s pretty tough—unless you build a custom feature with TikTok’s API.
Some folks have built custom features that simply allow users to download trending videos. Others have gone so far as to build custom features that allow you to download those videos without watermarks.
Automate Functions in TikTok
Many of the custom features we’ve discussed are intended for end-users of TikTok. But what about content creators on the platform? As we’ve seen over the last few months, many folks are leveraging TikTok’s API to automate many common tasks on the platform. Here are just a few of them.
Looking for one way to quickly get value out of the TikTok API? Upload video manually and then come back to this guide. I’m willing to bet that you’ll find the current process annoying.
Uploading a video on any platform can be cumbersome, especially when you’re using several apps to create content. Many influencers automate the process with TikTok’s API using its “Share to TikTok” SDK. Taylor Peterson at MarTech.org explains that this SDK helps third-party apps and developers integrate with TikTok and enable them to upload videos from the editing panels of their favorite apps.
The rules of content marketing can be simple: Create engaging content and, well, engage with your followers. But as your TikTok audience grows, so too does the amount of time required to interact with each person in your Followers list. Content creators leverage TikTok auto-follower tools to interact with folks who share similar interests—and to automatically follow anyone who’s following your account.
What Will You Create?
Although TikTok might seem like a platform strictly designed for people looking for a reprieve from their day-to-day lives, the software behind it is incredibly powerful—and thankfully for developers, it’s also very flexible. Based on how developers are leveraging it to improve their applications and provide relevant functionality, it’s clear that TikTok’s API unlocks an endless number of features that offer a significant competitive advantage.
Additionally, there’s also room to be creative. Take a closer look at some of the existing functionality that folks have built with TikTok’s API. Once you have a clear understanding of what’s out there, think of features that you wish existed in your most heavily used applications—and start writing the code that will eventually power them.
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