October 11, 2021
Where Do TikTok Trends Start?
TikTok needs no introduction by now. This short-form video-sharing app is the fastest-growing non-Facebook owned social media platform with over a billion monthly active users. To put it in perspective it took Facebook, Instagram and YouTube 8 years to hit that milestone; TikTok only 5 years. Twitter hasn’t even reached it yet. How did it grow so quickly? The entertaining, authentic content and its discoverability play a big role. Everyone has the opportunity to get ‘TikTok famous’ if you nail a viral trend or start a new one.

There’s always a new trend making waves on the app and one of the keys to growing a following is to make your own version of a popular video. The good news is that you can keep track of what’s trending, including the viral hashtags, sounds and effects on the discover page.

Where do the trends actually come from? There are three broad factors that contribute to the creation of a viral trend on TikTok – pop culture and current affairs, ‘challenges’ (ice bucket but make it 2021) and popular songs.

1. Pop culture & current affairs

From movie scenes to news interviews to major events in the world, anything and everything is a source of inspiration and has the potential to become quality content for TikTokers to re-enact and make into a meme.

On a more serious note, TikTok has also taken on digital activism, showing their solidarity with important movements. We saw the #BlackLivesMatter movement take over the app with content to combat racial injustice; the hashtag now has over 28 billion views. With conversations around climate change rapidly growing, the #ForClimate has reached over 559 million views (PS. follow Eco Tok for all things sustainability). Another memorable example is President Trump’s low campaign rally attendance in June last year. TikTokers encouraged each other to reserve tickets for his rally with the intention of not showing up, resulting in over a million requests and only 6,000 attendance. The platform is powerful in uniting people who fight for the same cause and share the same values.

Brands on TikTok can use relevant pop culture or current affairs moments to spotlight their product or service creatively. For example in Europe, Bumble has partnered with TikTok to launch their ‘Date with Better Answers’ campaign to help people dating post lockdown connect on common ground. Over the last year the app has introduced badges, which allows people to add their top interests, hobbies, desired traits etc to their profile, so this campaign ties in perfectly with the new feature. So far they’ve launched the campaign in the UK, France and Germany.

2. Challenges

Everyone loves a good challenge. No matter what side of TikTok you’re on, we’re sure you’ve at least seen one challenge video. Our personal favourite is the ‘Tell me without telling me’ trend. The challenges can take any form, ranging from dance routines, lip-syncing, comedy skits and singing riffs challenges. The key to this trend is that the challenge should be *relatively* easy to replicate and intriguing enough to want to participate in.

Brands on TikTok can use challenges to create user-generated content which can help you build brand awareness. If it picks up, it will spread like wildfire. A good example is Colgate’s #MakeMomSmile challenge. It’s really straightforward and the challenge had over 5.4 billion views. Another brand that succeeded with flying colours is Chipotle with their #GuacDance challenge, where TikTokers created a dance to get free guacamole when they ordered online on July 31, which is also the National Avocado Day. The hashtag has over a billion views.

3. Popular songs

Don’t mistake this for songs that are on top of the music charts. Any song with a catchy hook or line of lyrics has the potential to blow up on TikTok in the form of acting it into a scene, lip-syncing or dancing to it. Savage Love by Jason Derulo has over 5.7 million videos made with that sound and the hashtag has 1.7 billion views after TikTokers made a dance to the hook of the song. Artists have caught on to this and started their own trend with their latest released music. Recently, Taylor Swift released Wildest Dream (Taylor’s version) and made a video with her song (and announcing that her re-recorded Red album is coming out in November). The audio picked up and TikTokers started using the sound with various other trends like the zoom effect.

Brands often get on this trend by simply using the viral song in their videos as the background sound and turning the volume down. Your video will then show up when people search for that sound on TikTok, giving you a better chance of getting more views. Easy right?

Understanding the basics of how TikTok trends come alive will help you plan your content strategy for your brand. When you know what to look for, you are better equipped to get on top of a trend quickly when it comes up. Ofcourse, it’s easier said than done. It takes time and lots of creativity to nail making TikTok videos and build brand awareness. If you’re ready to commit to creating content for TikTok, the reward is certainly worth the effort.