Be honest: are you avoiding TikTok because you think it’s just for pre-teen dances or cat videos? If the answer is yes, then this is your official notice to get on the social media bandwagon, because it’s not just for the kids anymore. And to be fair, why would you not want to watch cat videos? Or the latest TikTok trends?
ICYMI: TikTok was the most downloaded app worldwide last year, and TikTok trends are its lifeblood. If you want your brand to be successful on TikTok, you need to embrace TikTok trends through branded content or by working with creators.
Here’s our guide to understanding TikTok trends, identifying them, and creating your own authentic and engaging videos.
- What are TikTok trends?
- The brand value of TikTok trends
- 12 TikTok trends to try in 2023 and beyond
- How to identify TikTok trends
- How to make TikTok trends your own
- How to measure your brand’s TikTok success
What are TikTok trends?
TikTok trends are a collection of viral short videos that use popular features, songs, sound effects, and/or hashtags. New trends emerge every day, and they’re a big part of why TikTok is one of the most entertaining of all the social media platforms.
Trends are essentially “memes 2.0,” according to Evan Horowitz, CEO of Movers+Shakers, and the mind behind what AdWeek deemed “the most viral campaign in TikTok history,” which his agency created on behalf of e.l.f. Cosmetics. “I’d say over half, maybe the vast majority, of TikTok content follows a trend,” he says.
Trends are basically a community-wide conversation across TikTok, and people express themselves through their various interpretations of them. Brands that want to join this conversation need to understand this process so they can engage with TikTok users in an organic way.
The brands that do this well are able to seamlessly join users’ feeds, becoming part of the community without coming across as too polished or salesy.
“When people are going through their feeds and your [brand’s] video comes up, it’s like, ‘Oh, that was really funny how that brand hopped on that trend and worked their product or their message or whatever in just a fun way,’” Horowitz says. “It makes your brand just be much more relevant in the conversation.”
How TikTok trends are evolving
As the platform becomes increasingly more popular and a culture incubator in its own right, the definition of a TikTok trend expands. Not all trends are equal, nor do they have the same lasting power. In its What’s Next 2023 Trend Report, TikTok explains how it tracks trends at different speeds and sizes to provide a better understanding of global culture and creativity on the platform.
TikTok identified three buckets of trends:
- Moments. These are the most common and fleeting trends, born out of cues that rapidly garner attention and excitement (think popular sounds and dances everyone suddenly starts doing.) Moments have a short lifecycle that lasts between a few days to weeks
- Signals. Instead of a single format or hashtag that people soon forget about, signals are content patterns that reveal emerging behaviors and interests within specific categories. These trends have a longer lifecycle, lasting from months to a few years
- Forces. The powerhouse of trends, forces are enduring behavioral transformations that can last several years. They’re significant cultural shifts that encompass everything from how consumers discover new products to how communities take shape
Brands can’t pick and choose which type of trend to tap into because each offers unique insights into consumer behavior and preferences. Your immediate relevance and long-term resonance with the audience depend on recognizing and adopting the full spectrum of TikTok trends.
The brand value of TikTok trends
Participating in TikTok trends isn’t just a chance to push your product by turning the latest craze into an ad. It’s about engaging with users and increasing your visibility on the platform.
Expand your brand’s reach
TikTok’s algorithm gives preference to trending TikTok videos, so you’ll get more views — and engagement — when you jump on a trend. Plus, users enjoy exploring various interpretations of trends and will often watch video after video, which can lead to organic discovery of your brand.
“Trends are so important for brands who are looking to increase their relevance on TikTok, because it gives them that extra viewership,” Horowitz says. “You tap into the algorithm, and also, it gives you that credibility, like you get the conversation on TikTok, and your brand fits in really natively.”
Make your brand relevant and relatable
Having a brand channel on TikTok and participating in trends is all about reaching your audience where they are. It demonstrates that your brand understands the platform, can entertain users, and have fun. In other words, it’s top-of-funnel awareness marketing.
While it’s difficult to drive click-throughs on TikTok, it’s easy for brands to derive a “cool factor” from it, according to Horowitz.
“A lot of brands are trying to figure out how they fit into the TikTok conversation in a native way,” Horowitz says. “If you want to have a successful TikTok presence as a brand, trends [are] just a super amazing hack to grow your audience faster and increase your engagement.”
Discover potential influencer partners
Because of TikTok’s huge reach and incredible rate of growth (especially among Gen Z and millennials), it’s more important than ever to find and partner with TikTok influencers who are already on the platform.
Working with established influencers goes a long way in building consumer trust around your brand.
According to TikTok’s Trend Report, among people who took an off-platform action as a result of a TikTok, 72% say they obtained reviews from creators they trust on TikTok more than any other platform.
You can find relevant influencers by searching for specific hashtags. Beauty brands could search #BeautyTips. Apparel brands could search #OutfitInspo or #Fashion. Or you can browse TikTok’s For You page (FYP) or search #foryou. You can also allow generative AI and advanced filters to find TikTok partners for you.
You can also tweak your language to search for influencers by location. For example, if your target audience lives in Europe, you could change your language to German or French so TikTok’s algorithm displays more European influencers.
Stay abreast of user sentiment
If your brand is investing in social media marketing, you may already be tapping into social listening as a way to collect customer sentiment. And if you’re not, now’s the time to start.
You should definitely care about straightforward metrics like trending videos, number of views, likes, and shares — which are available in TikTok Analytics if you have a professional account.
But ultimately, user sentiment goes beyond the metrics. To stay on top of user sentiment on TikTok, you’ll also need to use a sentiment analysis tool that uses natural language processing (NLP) to glean insights from comments and hashtags.
Stay informed of competitor strategies
In Q1 2023 alone, consumer spend on TikTok surpassed $1 billion. So, you really can’t afford to miss the boat — your competitors sure won’t.
So take this opportunity to do a little research and see how your competitors, industry influencers, and audience are interacting with the social media platform to gain some fresh insights on your own social media marketing strategy.
Follow your competitors on TikTok to see what people are posting about them and what types of content are netting them the most engagement.
You can also search #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt, which has about 8 billion views, according to The Indicator podcast. This viral hashtag helps to drive sales for previously unknown brands and can help you stay current with the next wave of competition.
12 TikTok trends to try in 2023 and beyond
There’s no limit to what kind of content will be popular on TikTok, but there’s certain types of videos that are evergreen trends. TikTok video doesn’t have to stick to just one trend. Often, you’ll see multiple types of TikTok trends appearing in single videos.
Challenges are a huge part of TikTok. While some are a duet, lip-syncing, or dance challenge, others are about storytelling, and some are more like dares.
With the #putafingerdown challenge, which currently has 4.4 billion views, viewers are invited to “put a finger down” if they’ve done or never done a list of things. (Sidenote: makes for a great drinking game. Drink every time you put a finger down!)
The #copycatchallenge, with over 343 million views, is an example of how users are using one of TikTok’s features to adapt Sid’s singalong from Ice Age.
The best thing about challenges is that brands can create their own to amplify awareness and collect user-generated content (content created by real people and not brands) organically. Clothing retailer Aerie went the challenge route when it debuted on TikTok. To gain recognition and boost awareness, Aerie created the branded hashtag challenge #AerieREALPositivity.
@brittanilancaster Guys pls tag @aerie in the comments, this isn’t sponsored at all, I just absolutely love everything they stand for! #aerierealpositivity #aeriereal ♬ 100% Real Love – PopUpGirl
The challenge was simple — TikTokers shared three things they were grateful for, and something positive they wanted to tell the world. Aerie’s brand is all about inclusivity and self-love, so this challenge fit the bill perfectly. With over 2 billion views, it’s clear it resonated with the audience, and helped Aerie gain traction in a platform where being seen and heard isn’t easy (especially when you’re a newcomer).
Numerous songs have gone viral on TikTok and quickly climbed through popular charts thanks to the platform. The song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from the Disney movie Encanto reached the number two spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 list because of the app, soundtracking over 800,000 TikTok videos.
Trending songs are a powerful tool for brands. Users will instantly recognize it from other popular TikToks, so they’re more likely to stop doom scrolling and pay attention. Songs also allow for versatility — different trending tunes can serve as a backdrop for various narratives. Brands can experiment and diversify their content by aligning their message or product with the mood of a particular song.
@thecraftghan Acrylic monthly milestones #babymilestones #acrylicsignstoronto #makeitwithme #cricutprojects #tiktoktoronto #smallbusinesscheck #shopsmall #smallbiz ♬ Infinity – Jaymes Young
For instance, The Craftghan is a small business specializing in acrylic signage. To get more eyes on its products, the brand tapped into the trending song “Infinity” by James Young, currently used in over 4 million videos. The Craftghan used the track as background for a video showcasing a specific set of products (monthly milestones) and accrued over 9 million views.
For an account with less than 150k followers, those numbers are pretty jaw-dropping.
The trending videos in this category are less about a specific song and more about a recognizable snippet of sound or spoken word and how it can be worked into a video. Whether it’s a memorable quote from a popular TV show or a particularly iconic line from a TikTok user, sounds are as eclectic as they are effective.
Much like trending songs, brands can use these trending audio snippets across a wide range of scenarios. Ryanair, known for its sassy and knee-slapping TikTok persona, often taps into trending sounds to poke fun at its strict baggage policies. In the example above, the sound is from an episode of the famous show “The Walking Dead.”
@laralulu_store Nuevo modelo disponible 💕 envios a Colombia 🇨🇴 #laralulu_store #ootd #viral #bratz #tacones #oldmoneystyle #zapatoscolombia #taconesplataforma ♬ TikTok Made Me Buy It – First Aid Beauty
While jumping onto existing sounds can give brands immediate recognition, creating an original sound that goes viral can provide an even more lasting impact. It allows you to set a trend rather than just follow one.
Skincare and makeup brand First Aid Beauty saw the exponential rise of the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. In a truly genius marketing move, it created a sound of the same name that any user can now add to their videos when showcasing their newest TikTok-influenced purchase. At the time of writing, the sound has been used in more than 140k videos.
These TikTok trends involve filters and editing tools unique to the app. TikTok’s stitch feature, for example, is used to respond and add to someone else’s content, while a duet is a side-by-side response to another user’s video, allowing for reactions, collaborations, or even playful banter.
These features make TikTok particularly interactive, fostering a sense of community and collaboration that’s hard to find in other platforms.
Both duets and stitches allow brands to directly engage with content from other users, influencers, or even competitors. This direct interaction humanizes your brand, showing that you’re actively participating and not just broadcasting promotional content. These unique features are also a great vehicle to display authenticity. Brands can share genuine reactions to user testimonials, reviews, or UGC.
@vessi #duet with @josephtburke Next dance video in Vessi’s? 😏💃🏻 #nomorewetsocks #vessigiveaway #freeshoes #fyp ♬ Skippin Mario – JIGGYnJIROH
Footwear brand Vessi is best known for its fully waterproof shoes. When it saw a video of TikTok user Joe Burke busting some serious moves on top of a puddle, Vessie took the opportunity to duet the video, advertise their sneakers, and form a collaboration all in one go.
One of TikTok’s most captivating trends revolves around the art of transformation. Thanks to its neat and user-friendly editing tools, the platform has become a canvas for users to showcase transitions, be it personal glow-ups, makeup transformations, or even profound life changes.
Transformations make for highly engaging content. They hold viewers’ attention because people can’t wait to see the finished result or discover what happens between each transition.
Transformation videos are a golden opportunity for brands, especially those in the beauty, fashion, fitness, or home improvement sectors. They demonstrate the impact of a product, showcasing tangible results in a short timeframe.
@hayleybuix Which one is your fav?? I present to you Defynecosmetics!! My own eyelash brand is now live! I hope you love them as much as I do! Link is in my Bio 🏻 #eyelashes #makeupinspo #makeuptransition #makeuptransformation ♬ Look At Her Now – Selena Gomez
TikTok user Hayley used her popularity as a makeup creator to start her own brand of fake eyelashes, Defynecosmetics. To introduce the product line, Hayley tapped into TikTok transformations, transitioning between different takes that show her audience precisely what the products are and what they look like in use.
This trend capitalizes on the age-old tradition of brand storytelling, bringing to life captivating (or silly, or weird) stories in a bite-sized format. Whether they’re funny anecdotes, emotional personal experiences, or unbelievable situations, these stories resonate with viewers and contribute to the feeling of a tight-knit community.
Brands can capitalize on this trend to build genuine connections with the audience. From sharing the story behind how the business started to recalling memorable customer stories, these videos can go a long way in humanizing a brand and highlighting its core values.
@camelie.eco Scamers alert 😅#skincare #smallbusiness #storytime #chargebacks ♬ original sound – Camelie | Eco Razors 🪒
Camelie is the owner of Eco Razors, the “last razor you’ll ever buy.” Alongside product content, Camelie often shares videos about the hurdles of running a business. These sometimes cute, sometimes nearly horrifying stories, help customers feel connected to Camelie and, by extension, her brand.
7. Expectation vs reality
This trend pulls back the curtain on the idealized world of social media, and offers a relatable comparison of what we expect versus what actually happens. “Expectation vs reality” resonates because it taps into universal experiences of unmet expectations, everyday challenges, and the often hilarious difference between imagination and reality.
In an online space marked by polished content, “Expectation vs. Reality” videos give us a much-needed dose of authenticity. Brands that aren’t afraid of poking fun at life’s imperfections or sharing behind-the-scenes mishaps can use this trend to build trust and loyalty with their audience.
@trip.hotel Try not to go to these places off season #offseason #expectationvsreality #instagramvsreality #igvsreality #photofail #travellifestyle #bucketlist ♬ original sound – Erin Fang | thelittlebasket
Online travel agency Trip.com expertly leveraged the trend to get a laugh out of the audience regarding expectations of dream destinations versus what happens when someone goes there off-season. It’s funny and a pretty good nudge to get potential clients to spend more money and summer in Italy instead of choosing a cheaper, less idyllic month.
8. ASMR (and other satisfying videos)
The strange yet mesmerizing world of ASMR has found a massive audience on TikTok. These videos, characterized by whispers, tactile experiences, or visually soothing sequences, trigger pleasant tingling sensations in (some) viewers, or provide a deep sense of satisfaction. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but enough people love it that ASRM-related content gets millions of views.
These videos have a knack for providing psychological comfort, and not only are they an excellent way for brands to diversify their content, but they can also be a new method of showcasing products.
@sofiasjournalshop Lets restock my small business items asmr style 💌🕊️💖 #asmr #asmrestock #smallbusiness #fyp #restockingasmr #asmrtiktoks #asmrpackaging #smallbiz ♬ original sound – sofiasjournalshop
Sofia’s Journal Shop often taps into the world of ASMR. Whether it’s a satisfying restock of materials or a comfy journaling session, she brings her audience along on her journey as a small business owner in a very unique, soothing way.
9. Tap into bustling communities
Underneath TikTok’s “For You” page lies a myriad of communities, each buzzing with passion, knowledge, and shared interests. These niches, from BookTok to MomTok to PlantTok, allow brands to connect with dedicated audiences.
@jaxrosebud bc we know Amren is THE material gworl 🐉💎 #acotarinnercircle #amren #cassianacotar #azrielshadowsinger #rhysandfeyre #sjmstan #acomaf #acowar ♬ original sound – Jax ✩ ESTORI
You might be surprised at how easy it is to connect your brand’s products to one of these communities. Take jewellry brand Estori Collective. How do rings, necklaces, and bracelets go hand in hand with BookTok, TikTok’s community of bibliophiles?
One of the book series this community can’t get enough of is Sarah J. Maas’ “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” or “ACOTAR” for short. The author’s books take place in a fantasy setting where the characters are dressed to the nines. By making videos about which Estori jewelry each “ACOTAR” character would wear, the brand connected with a new set of highly engaged users who would love nothing more than to rock their favorite character’s choice of necklace.
10. Pack an order with me
The “pack an order with me” TikTok trend offers a unique behind-the-scenes look into the world of small businesses and e-commerce entrepreneurs. These videos showcase the process of packaging and preparing an order for shipment, often accompanied by narration, aesthetic wrapping techniques, and heartfelt thank yous.
For brands, showing meticulous wrapping, using sustainable packaging, or adding personal touches can all enhance perceived product value.
@classievu Thank you Alan! ✨#tinythings#tinyorder#smallestorder#packwithme#asmrpackaging#asmrrelax#asmrrelaxing#asmrnoises#asmrnotalking#asmrsatisfying#smallorders#storytelling#asmrtriggers ♬ Birds and sparrows (environmental sounds / natural sounds)(322163) – somosomowhat
Classievu is a small jewelry brand that often adds narration to its “pack an order with me” videos, walking viewers through the story behind the order (in this case, it had to be an extra small package to surprise the client’s girlfriend.) Little stories like this help humanize the brand and highlight the amount of work and care that goes into each order.
11. A day in the life
The “day in the life” trend has taken TikTok by storm, allowing creators to share a chronological snapshot of their daily routines, challenges, and joys.
Like most trends, it also offers brands a chance to connect and engage. They can use “day in the life” videos to provide an exclusive look into their operations and employees’ lives, becoming more relatable and approachable in the eyes of the audience.
@brookibakehouse A day in my life as a bakery owner 🙃 organized chaos. #bakeryowner #dayinmylife #fyp #bakerylife ♬ original sound – brooki
Bakery owner Brooki often shares her daily journey of making dozens of delicious treats, cleaning the kitchen, and restocking many, many bags of flour. Watching Brooki’s videos, it’s impossible not to feel like you’re spending the day with a friend. This feeling is what helps brands create strong bonds with the audience.
12. Make it seasonal
Every year, the calendar is dotted with holidays and festivities, each bringing its flavor and sentiment. On TikTok, these occasions aren’t just dates — they become monumental trends in their own right, dominating the platform for a few precious weeks.
Holidays like Halloween and Christmas naturally see a surge in activity and interest. Brands can tap into the already heightened engagement levels by creating content tailored to these occasions. Seasonal content also positions a business as current and in tune with real-world events. It shows that the brand is not just promoting itself but is also a part of larger cultural or seasonal narratives.
trick or beans♬ original sound – Chipotle
Chipotle does TikTok right, especially when Halloween is about to roll around. From promoting their seasonal Boorito to delivering drive-through orders with a skeleton hand, the brand knows how to expertly weave the festive spirit into their products and content.
How to identify TikTok trends
Some TikTok trends are immediately obvious, but others can be tricky to recognize. Use these techniques to help you sharpen your trend-spotting skills and identify the next big thing.
Spend time on the platform
The best — and certainly the most fun — way to begin to identify a TikTok trend is to simply use the app! If you don’t already have one, create your own TikTok account. And get it verified. Then scroll through your home page, explore the Discover tab, and pay attention to what you’re seeing — and hearing.
Take into account everything on the screen. From the angle of the camera to the specific sounds and effects the creator used, all are moving parts that give you the opportunity to spot TikTok trends.
Look outside your lane
TikTok’s algorithm does a phenomenal job of giving users exactly the kind of video content they want, so it can very quickly funnel you into a very narrow content lane.
“Part of the reason why TikTok is so popular is because it very quickly gets you, and it will put you into a lane of content on things that you love and you engage with,” Horowitz says.
You can discover viral TikTok trends outside your own feed by doing the following:
- Use someone else’s TikTok app to stumble on videos you’d never encounter on your own.
- Explore the Discover page often.
- Click on a sound, and see what people are doing with it.
- Use the search box to find topics and hashtags relevant to your brand, products, and customers.
Focus on the music
Scroll through your For You page on TikTok, and you’ll likely hear the same song again and again. This is because TikTok is built for music, and these audio trends provide a wealth of opportunities for users to create their own remixes and interpretations.
While individual users can integrate songs and sounds into their videos without much concern for copyright issues, Horowitz cautions brands to refer to their legal teams before publishing. Brands may have to acquire a license in some instances.
“When it’s just on your organic page, it’s definitely a legal gray zone,” he says.
See how pop culture and current events play a role
TikTok creators are quick to respond to what’s happening in the world, so brands that want to remain relevant should do the same — when it’s applicable. For example, during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, countless TikTok trends emerged around handwashing and quarantine life.
Exploring current events certainly won’t apply to every brand, but it’s a natural fit for some. For example, the Washington Post does an impressive job of exploring breaking news and implementing humor and unique TikTok features to tell stories.
Follow TikTok experts and hashtags
Like any social media platform, you can also follow certain users or hashtags that relate to your interests. Follow the hashtags #trendalert and #newtrendalert, or visit the TikTok Trends page to easily stay informed of the latest.
TikTok’s Creative Center makes it even easier for brands to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s trending at a given time. You can find everything from the most popular hashtags to songs and creators that TikTok users can’t get enough of. You can even sort by region to ensure your content is relevant to your target audience.
How to make TikTok trends your own
Participating in trends, especially as a brand, involves inserting your own personality into the video while still making it clear which trend you’re taking part in. Here’s how to do that.
Identify your unique take
When considering a trend, look for ways your brand can interpret it within its own voice.
There are countless TikTok trends out there, but think about which ones are relevant to your brand and how your brand wants to appear.
For example, while at first glance, you may not expect e.l.f. Cosmetics to post a video set to the lyrics, “Somebody come get her, she’s dancin’ like a stripper,” the brand did just that. The challenge was for users to employ the freeze-frame effect to create a pole to dance on. And e.l.f. jumped on board cleverly and on-brand by using a stick of eyeliner as the “pole.”
Determine your own look and feel
Brands can take part in TikTok trends while still maintaining a consistent look and feel. It’s all about identifying your brand’s point of view.
“There’s lots of things to think about here,” Horowitz says. “Some brands show up with a certain color palette, a certain level of zoom. Some brands do a lot of product close-ups. Other brands, it’s really about the people. Some brands are about dancing. Some brands are not about dancing.“
TikTok can certainly be an effective platform to showcase your products and introduce them to potential customers. But creating engaging content for the app is about authenticity.
“It’s just about like jumping in and having fun with it,” Horowitz says. “That’s what TikTok responds to. Having someone on your team or an influencer you work with or whatever jump on the trend — even if it’s not a good dance. It doesn’t matter.”
Create your own trends
Once you develop an understanding of TikTok trends, your brand can begin to create its own trends.
For example, cold medicine Mucinex may not seem like the type of brand to be engaging on TikTok, but it had great success with its #TooSickToBeSick challenge.
How to measure your brand’s TikTok success
Marketers inherently want to analyze, quantify, and measure results, but determining ROI can be challenging on TikTok.
That’s because, as we noted before, building brand channels and jumping on trends is a top-of-funnel activity, and there’s little opportunity to organically click out to your brand’s website or product pages.
A better approach for brands looking to make their mark on TikTok is to focus instead on analytics like engagement, views, likes, and channel growth. Learn more about marketing on TikTok with our in-depth guide.