🔥Hot🔥 on TikTok 1.21
Jan 14-21: This week's top trends, sounds, new features, and Gen Z expressions.
Welcome to the first edition of 🔥Hot🔥 on TikTok - a weekly analysis of trending topics and sounds on TikTok, new feature announcements, the latest in Gen Z lingo, and brand case studies. This week, we dive into 2021’s first viral song “driver’s license,” stitch takeovers, and the best and worst of entertainment campaigns.
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TOP TIKTOK TRENDS
🧵 Stitch Takeover
Question stitches are officially invading your For You Pages 🚨. This feature starts with someone posing a question to a general audience about a life event or something special about themselves. Another user “stitches” a clip of the first video, and provides an answer to that question.
Questions examples include:
What is something that feels illegal but isn’t?
What is your one in a million story?
What is something weird about your body?
What is something that only people in your industry know about?
Why we like this trend? Stitches offer a chance for obscure creators to tell stories about their own lives that they normally wouldn’t share voluntarily. It helps inspire awe too, because it points out abnormalities in certain life events.
Is it here to stay? We’ll give this trend a month - it’ll probably die down after a while. Seeing repetitive videos, especially the same clips of questions, can cause FYP fatigue.
Application for brand campaigns: Brands can use this format as an opportunity to share something about their brand or product that most people don’t know about.
👦🏻👩🏼👨🏽 Emoji chats are in
The new form of storytelling: emoji chats. This trend mimics the iMessage group chat format and uses a text-to-speech function to narrate the conversation. It reminds me of the old Facebook comments/private chat memes of celebrity figures and world leaders in group chat scenarios.
Why we like this trend: Emoji chats are a storytelling opportunity to convey different personalities in one video. Typically, successful “conversation” style videos done by a single user can accommodate ~2 POVs (a user switches between right or left facing to play 2-4 different characters). With a group chat, you can feature more POVs without disrupting the narrative.
This trend is just starting to pick up. Most people are just sharing what happens in their private group chats. It’ll be interesting to see how this trend evolves as different stories are shared.
Application for brand campaigns: Brands can give their products different personalities and convey that through group chat conversations. This would work well if your company has a suite of different brands and products (Like Nabisco’s Oreo and Chips Ahoy).
🤥 2 Truths and a Lie
New trend alert 📈 Creators everywhere are sharing videos with this classic icebreaker challenge: 2 truths and a lie. It’s easy to recreate this trend - there’s no need to voice over, just simply lay text over a video of yourself.
Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of this trend. It’s not groundbreaking, but it could be fun if you’re trying to cause your followers to speculate about your life.
This is one of those trends that will have a shelf life of ~2 weeks. If you want to recreate it, publish it this week.
Application for brand campaigns: Brands can present something interesting about their company history that no one knows about and do a “Follow for Part 2” reveal. Brands can also use this format to hint at a new product release to spark excitement.
TOP SONGS OF THE WEEK
🎥 Netflix Brasil mashup
A user released a song “Funk da Netflix” using Netflix’s iconic sound with a Brazilian twist. People have been creating their own dances using the song and so far, it has inspired 300K+ videos made with the song on TikTok. It’s uncertain whether this originated from Netflix Brasil’s own marketing team since the sound isn’t available on their profile. They should definitely react to it and use the audio for their own campaigns (similar to how Gucci used UGC (user-generated content) sounds for their own ads).
🚗 Driver’s License kicks off 2021 with all the feels
Olivia Rodrigo’s debut single driver’s license is officially the fastest song to cross 100 million streams in Spotify history. 800K+ videos have been made on TikTok with her audio, and over 130m+ streams played on Spotify as of today.
A few ideas behind the reason for explosive growth:
Olivia involved her fans in the production process and posted multiple behind-the-scenes TikToks. Sharing concepts behind the lyrics allowed her fans to partake in the journey and got them hyped up. Olivia already had a solid TikTok presence prior to driver’s license due to her acting career (and High School Musical remake debut).
driver’s license’s sad melody and narrative lyrics increase its meme-ability, allowing sound remixing with more upbeat music (like Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B’s songs) for transition challenges. The lyrics drive interpretations of different sections of the song and inspire people to make their own trends.
Multiple spin-offs have been derived from driver’s license, including new songs written and sang from the POV of the car, the boy, and the blonde girl referenced.
The song taps into #MessyTikTok (a side of TikTok dedicated to scandals and reveals) due to obvious references to Olivia’s rumored love interest Joshua Basset (her costar in High School Musical). Fans immediately rushed to figure out who the song was about and posted numerous theories. This speculation led to increased conversation around the song.
There’s a unique behavior on TikTok, where users “claim” things as their own. This is a colloquialism you may encounter in the comments of some videos. For example, an endearing video featuring someone’s cute girlfriend or their dad will prompt users to claim them as “our girlfriend,” or “our dad,” as in “she’s our girlfriend now.” driver’s license drove fans to claim Olivia’s breakup as “our breakup now,” demonstrating just how connected they were to her experience.
Olivia’s song addressed two universal themes that resonated with her young audience: 1) heartbreak from first love, and 2) getting one’s driver’s license.
Finally, Olivia is extremely talented and deserves all the hype.
NEW FEATURES AND EFFECTS
📱UX effects are rising in popularity
We’re starting to see more people incorporate UX-style effects in their videos. UX memes are usually a fail-proof meme format, especially if the meme incorporates an element of surprise. Think Pablo Rochat and his clever work with Instagram’s UX design.
🔊 Text-to-speech is here to stay
We’re beginning to see more voiceover automation using the text-to-speech function. This helps increase accessibility and boost your video’s SEO.
Not sure how to use it? Just tap on your written text and click the “Text-to-speech” option.
🙋♂️ TikTok is testing a new Q&A feature
Creators will be able to add a Q&A button on their profile so that followers can leave questions, which can be answered via video replies or in a live stream. This feature has not rolled out globally yet, so stay tuned.
Nowadays, Gen Z expressions are typically derived from popular rap songs or viral TikTok sounds. My go-to Gen Z expert on trending slang is FlossyBaby, who never ceases to amaze me with her spot-on portrayals of Gen Z behavior.
Top Expressions of the Week
Here are some of my favorite new expressions of the week. You can use them in outbound commenting for community management, or ✨add a little bit of spice✨ in the group chat with your niece and nephews.
1️⃣ BACK! 🤺 BACK! 🤺 BACK I SAID! 🤺
Definition: This expression is used when you see something gross or scary on a video.
2️⃣ Leave no crumbs 💅🏼
Definition: When someone performs with great finesse and talent, and gives their all to a performance. You can also say “She ate that up, no crumbs.”
3️⃣ OWA OWA
Definition: This saying is derived from internet-famous dog Pudgywoke, known for his demon-like barking noises “owa owa.” You can use “OWA OWA” to hype someone up, or say “can I get an OWA OWA” to rally others to hype someone up together.
Definition: This is how Gen Z expresses laughter through emojis. 😂 is out. Do not use 😂 if you wish to command Gen Z’s respect. It is equivalent to using XD nowadays. Any of the emojis above will work.
5️⃣ Y’all speaking in lowercase
Definition: This expression is used when you’re speaking softly or respectfully.
🔥 HOT 🔥 Brand Case Study: Netflix
This campaign was from a few weeks ago… but it was so good that I felt obligated to include it in this week’s newsletter. Netflix collaborated with creator @_ms_frost_ (1.3M followers) to promote their new show Bridgerton. Her post generated over 46.3M views on her page with 1.8M+ total engagements.
Common industry practice for entertainment campaigns includes highlight clips or influencer partnerships. (These partnerships entail asking a handful of influencers to use a branded hashtag or effect). The reason why this particular ad stood out (and deserves praise) is because it didn’t feel like an ad at all.
The TikTok ad format for In-Feed Ads aims to conceal the ad on your For You Page and present a seamless content experience. It should feel like scrolling through any other UGC video. This is very different from Youtube ads, where the Display, Overlay, or Skippable ads contrast heavily with the type of content viewers see. TikTok’s In-Feed Ads are more similar to Instagram Stories Ads, where the format is the same, and ads are hidden between each swipe.
What this campaign did well:
It used TikTok native font in “Classic,” the go-to font type for creating videos, and the most popular font in UGC.
It used the “Stitch” feature that many users were already familiar with.
The recording of the influencer was shot on a phone camera, which felt organic and not overly produced.
These creative choices helped integrate the ad seamlessly into users’ FYP consumption. Sometimes simple is the best method for creative execution.
💩 NOT 💩 Brand Case Study: Discovery+
Discovery+ has officially entered the streaming wars equipped with a massive TikTok campaign rollout. To be honest, I’m baffled by how discovery+ managed to drop the ball in these recent ads, especially when it’s baby network Discovery Channel is killing it on organic TikTok. The discovery+ ads I’ve seen feel very “midwestern household TV placement,” like those sandwiched between geriatric care advertisements. Here’s one example, where the ad reached 46.4M views with 146K total engagements.
The views to engagement ratio is much lower than the previous case study. And if we take a closer look at what people are saying in the comments, you get a pretty good idea of how they feel about the ad.
You typically never want to receive too many POV style comments. If the comment section is inundated by these comments, especially top-voted comments, it indicates that the ad doesn’t feel relevant and isn’t worth talking about.
Why did this campaign flop:
Lack of arresting visuals and hints at recognizable cultural references. Why bother labeling the shows as “Exclusive Originals” if no one knows what those shows are about in the first place?
Increased volume on audio led to a noticeably bigger change in scrolling through the FYP. (Comments state “why is this video so loud??”) While this helps the ad stand out, it also makes people realize that they’re on an ad break, prompting them to immediately scroll past.
No way to generate traffic, and no details that differentiate the streaming service from competitors. Only a bland caption stating “Stream true crime originals. Exclusively on discovery+.” There is nothing driving user curiosity to learn more about the platform or its offerings.
What could discovery+ have done instead? As previously mentioned, the Discovery Channel TikTok page has done an exceptional job of connecting with its audience by using UGC sounds and FYP-friendly design formatting. Discovery+ could have taken the top highlights from its shows — the most surprising, funny, or curiosity-baiting clips — to use as visual assets. It could have referenced common TikTok expressions like “I’m alive but I’m dead” in copy for the true-crime series or as overlayed text to tap into the cultural moment. Embedding a link or something to click through would help generate traffic to the service. Discovery+ doesn’t need to be the stale, uninspiring streaming service it currently portrays itself to be.
That’s all for now, but…
Is there a topic you would be interested in reading about? Or a campaign you’d like me to cover? I’d love to hear your thoughts! You can respond to this email or comment below. 💕
Until next week,
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