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How to Edit a TikTok Video That Engages Millions

Mackenzie Scott

Jun 1, 2022

At one point or another, you might’ve thought to yourself that editing a social media video would be a piece of cake. Compared to feature length films and big-budget commercials, how hard could it really be to put together a 15-second TikTok video?

Well, if you’re a video editor rolling your eyes at that question, we know the feeling. Editing short-form content may take less time than long-form content, but it’s not just something you can do in your sleep. 

The reality is that it takes much longer than 15 seconds to edit together a 15-second video, especially if you want it to perform well. You could spend an hour or more making adjustments to the footage, audio, and visual effects before the video’s ready to upload.

Not only does the video need to look good and sound good, but there’s also an added pressure to reach more people via the algorithm and generate a ton of social media engagement.


On our blog so far, we’ve shared TikTok video ideas for filmmakers and advice on adding music to videos, but this is the first time we’re really delving into the post-production side of TikTok content creation. 

Whether you’re making videos for your own brand or someone else’s, there are some best practices and important steps to follow once you sit down to edit a TikTok video. We’ll share everything you need to know, but before we do, let’s address the elephant in the room: “Why TikTok?”

Why TikTok?

Video production and editing skills are valuable in so many different creative industries: Filmmaking, corporate advertising, freelancing, etc. It even opens up the doors for podcasters to share and promote their content on video-centric platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and — you guessed it — TikTok. 

TikTok has been part of the social media arena since 2016, and these days, it attracts at least 700 million global users every month. On this platform, people can watch and/or create short-form videos that are between 15 seconds to three minutes long. 

Unlike the algorithms for platforms like YouTube and Instagram, TikTok’s algorithm gives more credence to content relevance than the amount of followers or likes a creator has. This makes it possible — and even common — for creators with a small following to create videos that go viral. 

Whether you’re making videos for fun or as part of a marketing strategy, Tiktok is appealing because of the short-form style and potential to reach bigger audiences. A bonus is that the TikTok Creator Marketplace makes it easier for your work to get discovered by brand partners.  

Now that we’ve established why you might make and edit TikTok videos, let’s break down your options for editing aesthetic and engaging content. 

To edit or not to edit in the app

Once you decide to embrace TikTok as a content creator, there are a few different ways you can go about making content. 

If you’re already using a video editor like Premiere Pro or DaVinci Resolve for all of your other projects, you could edit high-quality videos within this platform and then upload the content to TikTok. Instead of relying on the “Effects” features in the TikTok app, you could create your own in a tool like After Effects.

You could also use any of the other third-party options that are TikTok-friendly, including Magisto, Funimate, InShot, and Quik.

All of these options are available to you, but another worthwhile option is to take advantage of TikTok’s built-in editing features. By editing within the app, you’re able to make aesthetically pleasing videos that don’t seem over-polished and over-done. 

This approach also makes the most sense if you’re already planning to make videos using the platform’s “Stitch” and “Duet” tools. (For example, editing parts of a video in Premiere Pro and then the rest in TikTok might over-complicate your process instead of streamline it.) 

TikTok’s in-app editor is designed to be intuitive and beginner-friendly. Also, the makers of the app are constantly rolling out new features and capabilities to improve the user experience. One example is the GIPHY in Green Screen effect that was made available in 2021. 

It’s entirely possible to create and edit high-quality videos within the TikTok app, so without further ado, let’s break down the editing process step-by-step.

How to edit a TikTok video in the app

Step 1: Know what type of video you want to make

At any given moment, you can create a TikTok video that jumpstarts the next global trend or contributes to an existing one. This is a platform where so many different types of videos exist (i.e., tutorials, lip-syncs, influencer collaborations, popular song trends, etc.) that there’s room for any type of video you want to make. 

Once you post videos, you can even create response videos that address a user’s comments or questions (see the example below).


TikTok editing example


Videos like the one above make the entire content creation process more interactive and engaging for your audience. You can grow your creative community on TikTok and encourage engagement by giving individual followers a shout out.

As you plan out your TikTok content, it’s a good practice to diversify the types of videos you’re posting. Once you decide on the kind of content you want to make next, it’s time for Step 2. 

Step 2: Hit the “+” sign

The video creation and editing process really starts with one click of the plus sign in the app. While this step is admittedly pretty obvious, it also might not be if this is your first time using the TikTok platform. So for clarity’s sake, it’s still worth the mention.

Step 3: Choose between “Camera,” “Story,” and “Templates”

As soon as you hit the plus sign, there are a couple quick decisions you’ll need to make: Are you creating a photo or video? Will you use the camera, make a TikTok story, or start with one of the app’s templates?


TikTok Stories


TikTok’s “Story” feature was in the beta stage for a good amount of 2021 and has been accessible to many creators since March 2022. This added feature gives you another way to engage with your followers, aside from just on the For You pages.

To make a feed video or story, you can 1) record new footage, 2) upload existing footage, or 3) do a combination of both. From there, you’re able to make cuts, add transitions, and layer more effects — which brings us to Step 4.

Step 4: Add effects

One of the benefits of editing within the TikTok app is that you’re able to use the different visual effects, which include green screens, filters, and video enhancement. As you edit your videos, you can combine effects or take a more minimalist approach. 

Here’s a breakdown of the effects:

Green screens

TikTok provides various types of green screen effects that you choose and add to your videos. One of the most common effects is a simple green screen background that you can edit to create a TikTok video like this one:


TikTok green screen



The “Filters” option in the video editor allows you to play around with different categories of filters like “Portrait,” “Landscape,” “Food,” and “Vibe.” Once you find a filter you like, you can adjust the exposure to get the look you’re going for.


TikTok filters


Video enhancement

Another way you can quickly color correct and improve overexposure in your videos is to use TikTok’s video enhancement feature. This can save you some time during the editing process, especially when it comes to merging different video and image clips together.


TikTok video enhancement


Step 5: Choose “Add sound” 

Visuals aside, another key part of editing a TikTok video is getting great-sounding audio whether you’re using music, sound effects, voice overs, etc. Once your video is edited together, you can select the “Add sound” tool and choose from the “Sounds” or “Commercial sounds” sections.


TikTok add sounds


In addition to these music options, TikTok also offers a noise reducer, some voice effects, and a voiceover tool. This allows you to make quick and easy adjustments to the audio in your video so that you’ll be happy with the final edit when it’s time to upload. 

The best editing protocol for your workflow

Whether you choose to edit within the TikTok app or not, what ultimately matters is that you’re able to produce high-quality videos in a way that is uncomplicated and cost-effective for yourself and your team. 

The learning curve for editing a TikTok video in the app isn’t too steep, and in many ways, this approach can save you time in the filming and editing process. As you navigate TikTok content creation, pay close attention to trends and then get creative. That way, you can create more engaging and viral-worthy videos for your audience. 

If you’re interested in reading more video-related content, check out these articles from the Soundstripe blog next: