Sure, we could tell you what the hottest TikTok hashtag trends and challenges are right now — but this article would be out of date by the time you finish reading it.
So if you were looking for a hot new drag-queen-choreographed dance to do, we’re sorry. But we’ve got something even better for you instead: a 2023 TikTok trend report that’s all about the bigger picture.
If you’re looking for what’s making TikTok tick right now, you’ve come to the right place.
Because, really, if you want to create a winning TikTok social media marketing strategy, you can’t get lost in the details. Things change at whiplash speed over on TikTok. Even if Corn Kid is absolutely popping off on a Monday, by Friday, the TikTokaverse has already moved on to watching clips of old dudes selling watches.
To succeed here and wow the app’s 1 billion users, you need to look underneath the teen-face filters or sound clips from Love Island and really understand the cultural forces and shifting attitudes that shape behavior.
Which is why in this post, we’re identifying the powerful macro trends happening on TikTok for 2023. It’s time to grapple with the zeitgeist, baby! Get ready to zoom out as we take you through the 11 biggest TiKTok trends for brands and creators right now.
Bonus: Get a free TikTok Growth Checklist from famous TikTok creator Tiffy Chen that shows you how to gain 1.6 million followers with only 3 studio lights and iMovie.
6 of the most important TikTok trends for brands
TikTok advertising is hotter than ever
If you’ve been debating where to invest your social ad dollars, TikTok may be a good bet. At the end of 2022, ad reach was up by 14.6%, year over year. And while that does guarantee some extra eyeballs on your campaigns, what that number doesn’t reflect is just how receptive TikTok audiences are to branded content.
The caveat here is that not just any ol’ ad will do. This ain’t a flyer inserted into a newspaper: TikTok ads still need to be interesting, appealing, and offer viewers some value.
Think beyond a straightforward product pitch and into something with a little razzle dazzle… TikTok-style. Can you use the app’s playful editing features or filters? Let’s just hit point #2…
TikTok users want to be entertained
Sure, 35% of TikTok users open up the app explicitly to research brands and products. But the vast majority of people on the platform are seeking out a little bit of fun. Our latest Digital Report found that 78.2% of TikTokers use it for watching “funny or entertaining content.” Brands that can deliver on that desire are poised to make both sales and fans for life.
TikTok’s internal studies have shown that ads rated highly for “entertainment” also rank high for “brand love” and “purchase intent.”
TikTok is the search engine of choice for Gen Z
Google’s reign as the king of search may be in jeopardy. Research has shown that Gen Z is increasingly using social as their primary search tool. “Young people are turning to TikTok to search for answers,” reported the New York Times in September 2022, citing a Google study that revealed that 40% of users aged 18 to 24 turn to TikTok or Instagram when they need information.
This doesn’t mean you need to shut down your website and do that Eternal Sunshine treatment to cleanse all SEO knowledge from your brain. The majority of people still are tracking down your business the old-fashioned way (a.k.a. frantically typing “me need haircut now hurry” into the Google search field). But brands would be wise to start honing their social search optimization skills to make sure they’re reaching every potential customer.
TikTok is entering its ‘experimental’ phase… and brands should be ready
Growing up means trying on different identities to see just what fits best, as any of us who witnessed Christina Aguilera in her Dirty era know. TikTok is no different. Sure, it’s the master of the short-form, algorithmic-brain-candy video stream, but the potential for what else it could be are limitless. No wonder, then, that in 2022 alone, it released at least seven new features, including TikTok Now (a BeReal clone) and TikTok Stories (an IG Stories clone, which itself is a Snapchat clone, but that’s a tale for another day).
In other words: TikTok is on a journey of self-discovery. And brands should be open to tagging along on the ride, embracing and testing out whatever new feature the app drops next. It’s true that most of these features won’t last, but brave brands that get in on the ground floor may be rewarded with an algorithm boost, or at least the opportunity to surprise or intrigue your audience.
Put real people front and center
TikTokers love to see content from relatable people. So skip the straight-up sales pitch and reach out to someone real who feels comfortable sharing their authentic story.
“Trust boils down to who’s telling your brand story,” notes TikTok’s 2023 Trend Report. “If a TikTok creator shares traits or interests with your audience, their content will feel more relevant and meaningful to viewers. People also feel more connected to industry and subject matter experts, who bring knowledge and insider advice to their videos.”
This could mean using your own channel to create authentic, people-first content. But it may also mean reaching out to creators for reviews of your product.
Whether you’re collaborating with an influencer or handing over the reins to an insider expert, putting real people front and center can help brands create authentic, entertaining content.
Memes move at lightning speed
Sometimes it feels like TikTok is happening in another language, with so many in-jokes, slang and cultural touchpoints that seem to exist only within the app. If your brand is going to keep up with the speed of social, you’ve gotta be constantly researching and observing to understand what the hot-ticket reference is each day.
That means spending a lot of time just watching and learning on the app, taking note of what aesthetic choices are trending and what emojis are now outdated. Our friends at We Are Social noted that late 2022 was a time of “chaotic content” and “cosplaying normalcy,” but you can get even more up-to-date analysis from their daily digital cultural tracker on Instagram.
But if that all sounds like a lot… maybe don’t bother? More important than understanding whether it’s still cool to call something “ded” or “cheugy” is to be authentic.
5 of the most important TikTok trends for creators
A strong personal brand goes a long way
Viewers don’t just come to the app to see a stream of random teens dance in their McMansions: they’re there looking for people to connect with and look up to. So 2023 is the year to define your personal brand.
If you’re a hairstylist, maybe this is the time to lean into a specialty that you can speak to from personal experience.
For example, could you be the authority on curly cuts? If you’re a nutritionist, can you lean into debunking diet myths? Or, if you’re like TikToker Alexis Nikole, you could embrace your identity as a Black forager.
Black history meets Black joy. #makeblackhistory #foraging
Building a strong, consistent personal brand attracts a passionate, connected audience — and plenty of engagement along the way.
People are seeking out new paths
News flash: the pandemic did a number on all of us. The last few years have put life in a new perspective for many people, and there’s a growing sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo, at least according to TikTok’s research.
“Amidst a changing economy, health and climate issues, and personal stress, people are going to seek out new paths to success, happiness and well-being,” says the 2023 Trend Report. They’re not just looking for recipes to try: they’re looking for lifestyle inspiration. For instance, learning what it’s like to leave a full-time job to work remotely, or how to live with a mental health diagnosis.
TikTok has always inspired “action” from its users, whether that was purchasing a product (#tiktokmademebuyit) or trying a dance. This year, it looks like the platform may have an even deeper influence.
To tap into this, creators should embrace authenticity while creating what TikTok calls “actionable entertainment”: sharing your own personal ‘how to’ stories to help others make changes in their lives with confidence, like documenting your unique financial #cashstuffing strategy.
Cash stuffing my wallet #cashstuffing #nospendfebruary #nospendchallenge #nospendmonth #cashstuffingenvelopes #canadiancashstuffing #canadiancashstuffer #cdngirlcashstuffer
Get specific and get personal! Relatability drives trust.
Stress is out; joy is in
The TikTok audience is burned out, and we can’t blame them after the past few years. So is it any surprise that meaningful joy is trending in 2023?
“They want to create real, meaningful space for themselves in 2023,” reports TikTok’s research team, “and much of that will come from prioritizing joy in all its forms.”
Humor is one great way to spread that joy. There are so many heavy things happening in the world: brighten someone’s day with a lighthearted story or hilarious use of an audio trend.
To my followers: do better 💔
Another shortcut to joy-making: try sharing ideas for little moments of luxury and gratitude, or offering a solution to a problem.
For instance, a better way to do your skincare routine, or how to stop the drawstring from getting stuck in your sweatpants. “The typical person wants to find happiness, even in the smallest of ways,” reports TikTok.
Find your niche
At this point, it’s a cliche: we’re all unique flowers in this garden we call life, blah blah blah. But on TikTok, it’s easier than ever to find your hyper-specific community. Whether you’re a goblincore witch or a teen Keto chef or whatever a “cozy gamer” is, your people are there somewhere on the ‘Tok.
i haven’t had this much fun since animal crossing 🌾✨ #dinkum #cozygamer #cozygames #cozygaming #cozydesksetup #acnh #animalcrossing #stardewvalley
As the TikTok trend report put it: “TikTok is not a town hall meeting. It’s a collection of hyper-personal spaces where people can explore their passions and live their lives.”
For those looking for guidance as they navigate a new identity or break societal expectations, finding a “you’re just like me!” role model or friend on TikTok can be downright revelatory.
Embrace what makes you you and you’ll find that sweet spot between specificity and relatability. Bonds will be formed! Horizons will be broadened! Viewers will be inspired! Whether you click with the #TiredMom crew or the #HatGuys, what can you post that will inspire someone to think “I’m not alone” when they stumble across it on their For You Page?
Entertainment trumps all else
While certain identity categories or your browsing history might influence your algorithm on other platforms, on TikTok, the For You Page is purely based on what you find entertaining on TikTok.
The app knows what you’ve enjoyed and learns to serve up more of the same, getting better and better at delighting you every day. And in 2023, this will continue to be true. That means creators need to be focusing on crafting entertaining, quality content if they want to capture those views and likes.
People also specifically come to TikTok to be entertained.
Successful creators understand the power of humor and pacing; they take advantage of TikTok’s editing features to sync up audio and video in a captivating way. Importantly, they also offer something of value with each post, whether that’s a moment of levity or some helpful advice.
Now that you’re in the loop about what to expect from TikTok trends in 2023, let’s zoom out even more. Here’s a look ahead to where social media is going next.
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