March 8, 2024

How to be on-trend on TikTok

How to be on-trend on TikTok

For those who aren’t familiar with TikTok, it’s a social media platform heavily reliant on trends. 

In a matter of hours, a particular topic, sound, song or filming style can gain incredible traction. And anyone who jumps on board quickly has the potential to go viral.

For example, at the time of writing this article, POV (point of view) is trending. These are usually about a specific relatable situation (e.g. when you miss your bus). They’re also filmed in a certain way so that the user feels like they’re present, or it’s them in the situation.

If you’re a brand and you see this, you should create a TikTok about this trend, use #POV when you post it, and then hope it goes viral, right? 

According to TikTok, there’s a bit more to it. 

Trending Moments vs Signals

In their Monthly Trends Digest, TikTok explains a simple methodology that separates fleeting 'Trend Moments' (i.e. what’s trending now) and the more long-lasting 'Trend Signals' (i.e. creating TikToks that are on-trend). 

Think of Trend Moments as individual TikToks that are part of the trend. They generally don’t last as long but can spark others to keep the trend going.

Trend Moments are tough for social media marketers – you need to be very responsive and constantly monitor what’s happening, plus be quick to create content about that exact TikTok.

Trend Signals, on the other hand, are wider, long-lasting trend themes (e.g. #POV). They allow social media marketers more time to stay ‘on-trend’ and provide a broader scope of content ideas. 

TikTok trend elements

An easy and simple way to understand trends is by their four elements:

1. Message 

This is the ‘overarching story – the core of the video’. What your TikTok is about. Some trends are about a particular topic, like kitchen cleaning tips and tips, so your TikTok needs to be about that topic, otherwise it won’t be on-trend.

2. Hashtags

Hashtags do matter. By using the right ones, your content becomes more discoverable by other TikTok users and the algorithm. You can use the core hashtag for the trend, then add some additional ones to make it your own.

3. Sonic identity

This is a fancy way of describing the sounds and music that you’ve used. Trending music is a major part of TikTok and associating yourself to the right track can deliver you great results. Music and sounds can themselves be the trend. 

4. Visual narrative 

This is the style of the TikTok that you’ve created and includes things like how you’ve filmed it, what edits you’ve applied, transitions between clips, and so on. For example, many #POV videos are filmed from a selfie point-of-view.

Tiktok On-Trend

How to be ‘on-trend’

Now that you understand the four elements – trends message, associated, sonic identity and visual narrative – how exactly do you create a TikTok that’s on-trend? 

By keeping at least two of the elements, and mixing up the others.

In this case, the trend was a sonic identity (i.e. a particular song) and a visual narrative (a carousel of images that compared products that belonged to different people). 

@elle_nl shared a TikTok that varied the trend message (by showing products owned by staff from their office) and hashtags (using the unique hashtag #OfficeTok).

This portrays the brand as fun and innovative, and behind-the-scenes content shows the brand’s personality, making users feel more connected to the brand.

Final thoughts

To join trends on TikTok, it’s great to consider the four elements that TikTok suggest – trend message, hashtags, sonic identity and visual narrative.

By keeping at least two of these elements the same and mixing up another two, you’ll put a great spin on the trend, whilst also staying on-trend.

You’ll also be showcasing your brand’s innovative, authentic and fun side. 

Jonathon Tanner

Jonathon Tanner

Co-CEO and Co-Founder

Co-CEO and Co-Founder of SMC, earned Social Media Educator of the Year from SMMI. With vast experience in social media strategy and content marketing, he's also a co-founder of other businesses. Specialising in growth strategy, Jon has a background in management consulting specialising in M&A.

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