If TikTok has so far only been on the periphery of your social media landscape, it’s time to start paying attention. Previously known as Musical.ly and acquired by Chinese company ByteDance in late 2017, TikTok has grown to become one of the most-used apps in the US and across the globe. In light of this growth, several TikTok trends have begun to take shape among its user base.
Launched in 2012 in China, the majority of its vast 1 billion users reside in China. After aggressively expanding worldwide over the last few years, ByteDance merged Musical.ly into TikTok and brought its users over to the platform in August 2018.
TikTok allows users to record 15-second videos and upload them for the world to see. The content varies—from comedy skits and dance routines to lip-syncing and pranks, it has spread like wildfire among younger audiences, particularly with the Gen Z demographic. It’s easy to see why: user-friendly with digestible and entertaining content, TikTok is an addictive platform—the spiritual successor to Vine.
Once you dig into TikTok’s growing trend subculture, it can seem a little confusing to those not familiar with the platform.
Below is a rundown of the most popular TikTok trends currently dominating the space so that your brand can stay up-to-date on what’s trending with influencer marketing campaigns, viral social media content, and branded social promotions on TikTok.
Challenges unite a large part of TikTok’s eclectic content ecosystem. Users record themselves attempting to perform a challenge and often challenge others to do the same.
Examples of TikTok challenges include:
Lately, sponsors have been getting in on the act by creating their own challenges to garner interest and engagement. Jimmy Fallon was one of the first celebrities to jump on the wagon, starting a ‘Tumbleweed Challenge’ as one of TikTok’s first influencer collaborations on the platform. More recently, brands like Google and network ABC have been utilizing the platform for awareness, marking a clear shift in thinking from major corporations that TikTok is a viable marketing platform.
Where would a social media platform be if it didn’t have memes? TikTok, more than networks, is unusually reliant on memes for much of its content. Unlike other platforms, TikTok thrives on its irreverence. Users can be found making fun of themselves in embarrassing ways in public; performing silly pranks; doing skits—meme culture falls perfectly into the lap of TikTok’s community.
You might have heard someone yell out ‘hit or miss’ in public, or seen people dressing up their pets, or maybe even the ‘karma is a bitch’ meme, which sees people recording themselves as being ‘normal’, before pulling a blanket or sheet over themselves and revealing their better-looking self.
As you can imagine, this in-turn spawned parodies in which people would ‘reveal’ themselves to look exactly the same as their ‘normal’ selves. Memes form a large part of the backbone of TikTok’s content base and are in large part responsible for the community’s engagement and success—YouTube compilations of TikTok memes garners millions of views.
A question that’s been on the lips of everyone in the influencer marketing industry: “Sure, TikTok is popular, but is it a relevant platform for brands and influencers?”
For a long time, owner ByteDance was happy to let the user base grow and sit back to allow the fostering of a large community, operating at a loss. Vine, a similar short-form video platform, died because influencers abandoned the network for more lucrative social media endeavors. Having cultivated a huge amount of popularity, brands are now actively looking at ways to use the network for their marketing efforts, with a large increase in influencer collaborations over the last few months.
ByteDance have themselves kicked off a campaign for TikTok, recently recruiting Charlie Puth, Kris Jenner, and Paris Hilton to push their #memeathon tag and, per our case study, saw very positive levels of engagements. ByteDance is keen to show brands that the platform is open, willing, and proactive in introducing influencer marketing to their audience.
We’ve seen several large brands launch campaigns on the platform, including fitness clothing brand Gymshark, Sony, Calvin Klein, and Coca Cola.
With many TikTok users worldwide and the U.S. being familiar with the Musical.ly platform prior to the acquisition, it should come as no surprise that its features continue to play a major role in the popularity of TikTok.
One such feature is the ability to ‘Duet’, introduced in the summer of 2018. It allows users to create custom videos and play them in a split-screen format next to another video of their choice, whether they know them or not. This has lead to an entire culture trend of TikTok users doing duets with friends, celebrities, popular TikTok users, and themselves.
Slow motion is one of the many effects that users can implement into their videos at the tap of a button. It’s one of the key themes of TikTok’s content and is typically found in more visual content. For example pranks, stunts, dance moves; all of which lend well to slow motion effects.
Under the #Slowmo tag, videos get billions of hits—more than 26 billion. Compilations of slow-mo videos rack up even more millions of views on YouTube.
With TikTok becoming more popular and more monetized, celebrities have been slowly and tentatively trying out the platform, whether for branded sponsorships, awareness or just plain fun.
From Amy Schumer to Cardi B and the aforementioned Fallon, celebrities are more frequently using the network as its mainstream awareness grows. This will no doubt come as an enormous relief to ByteDance, who will look to position themselves as a conventional social media platform and shake the tag of being the ‘New Vine’. Vine was famously overly-reliant on its biggest community stars and more or less collapsed when they jumped ship.
Having an established presence of conventional celebrities—many of whom use the platform much like Instagram Stories—will do wonders for widening the reach of the network.
Cosplay is a trend that has been much in the mainstream for years now. It’s not uncommon to find pictures of people’s elaborate recreations of their favorite characters at movie or gaming influencer conventions.
What marks TikTok out is the ability to showcase Cosplay in a short, ordered, video format—it can help bring cosplaying to life. With a young audience (nothing against older cosplayers, of course), TikTok is fertile ground for creatives to show off their costumes to the world.
From Lara Croft to Spider-Man, people are showcasing their cosplays in new and inventive ways through TikTok’s features. There’s no doubt that there’s a huge audience for the content, nearly 5 million cosplay posts and over 12 billion views between them speaks to how massive this trend is within the community.
On TikTok, this theme counts as the exact opposite of the sibling rivalry content that can usually be found online. The trending hashtag #twins is huge, with 1.8 million posts and 9 billion views of videos featuring it.
TikTok is quickly becoming the go-to platform for this kind of collaborative content. With YouTube prioritizing longer-form content, apps that afford their users the opportunity to create short-form videos for a large community will thrive. For this particular trend and others like it, it’s easy to see why TikTok is seeing so much activity among creators and viewers.