Welcome back to HotToks, where we explain 'the why' behind each viral TikTok trend, tap into key cultural moments, cover app updates, and share how to plan your TikTok marketing strategy. This edition we discuss the rise of restaurant searches on TikTok, a trending culture of sadness, and how TikTok ate the internet.
POV: it’s date night, and you’re looking for a good restaurant to show up n’ show out. What are you turning to? The Michelin Guide? Or TikTok?
Surprise, surprise. For many, it’s TikTok. It’s wild, but TikTok is currently the #1 converter for restaurants. Everything truly comes full circle if we consider TikTok being a go-to search engine. Every day, 100M people spend an average of 80 minutes on the platform’s effective, attention-grabbing, soul-sucking algorithm. And food is one of the most popular subjects on the platform. According to Danny Kim (@DannyGrubs), a TikTok food influencer with over 3M followers, “TikTok searches for food bring an experience that you can’t find anywhere else on the internet.” Views aren’t the be-all-end-all, but they do make a difference. For the restaurant and food industry, views can turn into foot traffic and psychologically can aid information recall, especially when you can’t decide which restaurant to go to.
But, of course, there are two sides to every story. In the same way a restaurant could blow up thanks to TikTok virality, a restaurant’s reputation could also be tainted forever. Recently, One If By Land, Two If By Sea in NYC was called out for allegedly only seating Asians upstairs via a TikTok video with over 90K views and 550 comments. Instances like these can really hurt a restaurant because these videos are ones that you can’t unsee. Needless to say, for people in the restaurant biz, TikTok can make or break your business.
If you owned a restaurant, would you risk it for the biscuit?
Another day, another trend. This time, it’s sadness. Yes, you read right.
TikTok video of Boston-based content creator Zoe Kim Kenealy giving a tutorial on “crying makeup” garnered over 507K likes and 3.6M views. She’s also posted a video showing an “I’m Cold 🥺” makeup look with over 2M views. We’re clearly in an odd corner of TikTok’s beauty community. How did we get here?
News to me, but this “fresh after crying” look is pretty popular: “I want to look like I’m pretty crying all of the time,” one comment says. “I feel so pretty after I cry, I can’t tell if it’s the eyelashes or red nose,” wrote another. How popular, you ask? The about-face “Vinyl Effect Eye Gloss” that Zoe uses to get the look of glistening eyelids, is literally sold out online. Though the creator herself has said, “it’s not meant to deceive anyone,” people feel deceived. Moreover, we have to be honest with ourselves, it’s the principle that feels a little bit off. Misery and the performance of misery are all over TikTok. So much so that the duckface of now is what’s called the “dissociative pout.” You’ve seen it, there was just never a word to describe it, and now here we are. Like the duckface, it’s drawing attention to big, pouty lips and twinkling eyes, just like the “crying makeup” trend does. As i-D puts it, it’s the girl who “still cares about being sexy, but knows there’s nothing sexy about caring too much.”
On the other hand, the world has not been too great to us these past few years, and we’re yearning for community. According to a post-doctoral researcher in media and comms Fredrika Thelandersson, “maybe it is performing sad feelings, but there is a communal aspect when you realize that other people feel the same way, and that’s a sort of belonging…it’s still kind of hopeful in a way.” While social media helps us feel like we have no original thoughts or experiences and gives us a sense of community, it can still cause damage to our mental health, especially for younger users of the platform. According to a NYT article, teens are now turning to TikTok and social media to help search for a mental health diagnosis, which can cause negative consequences.
Fortunately and unfortunately, vulnerability is profitable in this day and age. Haven’t you heard? Thanks to the era of “casual Instagram,” we’re trying hard not to look like we’re trying hard. Get with the program.
Speaking of mental health and misery…
What we don’t know won’t hurt us. But this is a real look at what’s happening in our society with TikTok’s influence. This piece covers everything from the legacy of the app’s Chinese roots to the in-depth study of our personal social media behaviors and is overall worth reading. Just be prepared to learn a couple of things that maybe you would be fine not knowing.
Read more on how TikTok is changing the way we consume and create content.
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