TikTok and the rise of microtrends


Olivia Hewang

Remember when Wordle jumped into the public consciousness only a few months ago? We trace the rise of microtrends on Tiktok.


Remember when Wordle jumped into the public consciousness only a few months ago? Even if you’re not playing, it’s hard to forget, a lot of us are still “adieu-ing” at the breakfast table every morning. But do you remember Noodle the Pug’s #nobonesday? What about “Tiger King” and Dalgona coffee? Or did your love dissipate along with their presence on your TikTok “For You” page?

TikTok’s rise has contributed massively to the rise in “microtrends”: a term often attributed to fashion trends that dip into public consciousness for a few weeks or months before going out of style and landing a place on eBay, a thrift store or a dumpster. Only now, it doesn’t just apply to fashion; it rings true for many other activities, games and hobbies that we briefly obsess over, then completely forget about.

Movies and TV

Movies and TV shows can get a warped sense of user interest when they are only in the limelight for a short period of time. “Tiger King” invested a considerable amount of money into a second season that received little engagement, after the early quarantine obsession with Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin fell through. “Euphoria” began to trend when news of a Season 2 came out, and producers changed the plot of the show as a result, leading to many viewers complaining about “fan service.”


The music industry has been transformed by TikTok. You can try to deny it, but take a look at the playlist “Today’s Top Hits” on Spotify. Most of them are TikTok dances or comedy trends. And while it may not seem like a big deal, there are more and more chart-topping hits by artists who you have never heard of before, and will likely never hear of again.

With the rise of TikTok trending music, it’s considerably harder for musicians to sustain growth. If people are only listening to a 15-second snippet of your song, they may not be as enticed to listen to the rest of your discography as they would be if they heard it on the radio, for instance. Most artists from 2020 or 2021 with “TikTok songs” landing on the charts have not had another song on there since.

Content creators

It’s also harder as an influencer to sustain growth. Take Noodle the Pug or Political TikTok, which both boomed and then practically disappeared. Many creators take the lead of those from other sites like YouTube, and may even quit their day job or start investing more effort into their social media when they notice growth, but what happens when their followers, views and likes start dropping?

Real consequences

Despite the real human impact, these microtrends are usually thought of as somewhat trivial. But serious consequences can arise as a result of their fleeting nature, particularly when they start tackling more sensitive issues.

One example? The fostering pets trend. Foster rates for dogs and cats rose significantly at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but decreased significantly from July to December 2020 as the world began to reopen. People made life-altering decisions on a whim, and couldn’t follow through on the responsibility they had taken.

This contributes to horrible separation anxiety and abandonment issues in foster pets. Short-term fostering can hurt animals, who have expected to be welcomed into a new home before being thrust out again. Stress levels in dogs were seen to increase immensely. This also puts a huge strain on shelters, who think they are able to take in more pets as more are being fostered, only to see people falling through the cracks.


Now, there’s not much you can do about some of these. You can’t be forced to sit through another season of a TV show you only watched because you were bored, or play an online game you’ve grown sick of. But you can think about the human impact of the media you interact with. Check out the new videos from the content creator you once loved, avoid buying merchandise for something you’ll probably be sick of in a week and think about long-term investments. Not everything is a microtrend.