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TikTok Technology Influencer Marketing

The psychology behind September’s key influencer marketing trends

By Alan Gray



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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October 6, 2021 | 7 min read

September has been another month filled with trend discovery at Tailify. Here are three of our favorites, with our take on why they’ve been so successful.

Tailify look at the top trends inspired by the psychology of influence.

Tailify looks at the top trends inspired by the psychology of influence

Trend 1: Quiet Please!


Struggling to focus? These students have been creating live Do Not Disturb videos to help them study. With exams dawning, students have taken to recreating the classroom experience online by broadcasting their studying live. In these livestreams silence is golden, and phones are transformed into notification-free invigilators, monitoring and streaming the student’s hard work to followers and newcomers alike. It’s a great reason to put down that phone and free yourself from distractions. But what else might be driving this behavior, and could it actually improve motivation?

Delayed gratification

Revising is so tough because it feels so far away from its reward – that top mark you’re seeking.

Good grades require months and months of quiet preparation. And there’s no fanfare after every study session – just the slight, private recognition that way off in the future, you might get the grade that makes it all worthwhile. Broadcasting your study sessions, on the other hand, is a way of gaining social approval every time you sit down to work. It makes the reward more immediate – instant, in fact – and lays out a steady trail of ‘emotional power-ups’ all the way to that final grade. So study success doesn’t have to wait until results day; it’s there the moment you drop the pen.

Public commitment

A good way to reach a goal is to let everybody know what it is you’re trying to achieve. This way, you’ll be held publicly accountable for failure – and socially pressured into success. Unpleasant? Well, yes. But it’s also a means of drawing on your support network and exploiting your own ego. Nobody wants to be seen as somebody who went back on their word, and couldn’t keep a promise. And if you do give in and decide to play on that Xbox – won’t your followers have something to say? After all, you did claim you were studying, right?

Trend 2: Time Machine Chit-Chat


Feeling nostalgic for your younger years? TikTokers are reconnecting with their inner child, and talking about their life achievements and lessons so far. In these videos, TikTokers simulate a conversation with their former selves. The younger self asks the elder about how things will work out, and the elder – for once! – gives answers. Will I get that all-important first kiss? Will my grades be good enough? Will I fall in love? It’s a chance to evaluate one’s present life based on the younger self’s dreams and ambitions – a chance to see where you are now in light of where you were then.

But is it not wrong to be so ‘stuck in the past’? And what are the benefits of such a practice?


Moving targets

As we age, our goals and expectations change with us. What we want from life becomes more complicated and confused. And it’s a rare soul indeed who gets exactly what they want – and doesn’t almost immediately start wanting something different. Looking back at what we initially set out to achieve helps put things in perspective. Our simpler ambitions are a valuable check on our obsession with progress, and our lamentable tendency to get lost in the ever-evolving challenges of our own making. Yes, we may not be married with two kids, and a dog, and another baby on the way – but nevertheless we still had that first kiss, when once even that seemed impossible.

Practicing gratitude

With the events of the past two years, it’s no surprise we’re seeking comfort and reflection. And there is little greater comfort than expressing our thanks for what we have, and all that we’ve been given. Practicing gratitude in this way helps us recognize a fundamental truth: that the goodness in our lives is not entirely our own doing, and that it often originates from outside ourselves. Psychologists have found a strong and consistent relationship between the practice of gratitude and personal happiness. So TikTokers who encourage us to use the medium to pause and self-reflect may be offering us far more than entertainment.

Trend 3: Lower Lower Lower


Originally a dance-squat trend, the ‘Knees like Megan’ Challenge has been reimagined by FitTok into an extreme piston-squat drop. All that is needed is for the TikToker to lower themselves in sync with the beat. However, this is definitely a case of easier said than done. And many take their lows to brand new heights – think squatting while raising a barbell, or balancing on a footstool! Yes, this isn’t for the timid of thigh or weak of glutes. These are lows in extremis.

Social learning

What we expect of ourselves is largely a product of what we observe in others. If our parents are successful painters, for example, we’ll be more likely to believe ourselves capable of the same. And this kind of social learning has huge implications in the world of social media.

There are ups and downs to this, of course. On the one hand, our world of possibilities has expanded exponentially; on the other, unattainable standards have proliferated and distorted our expectations. The trick is balance – but like squatting on a footstool, it isn’t always easy. Trends like this can benefit from open displays of struggle, and even outright failure. TikTokers who display in quick-time their hours of practicing convey a much more realistic picture of the journey – and help manage the expectations of their followers. It’s one thing to aspire to abs, but quite another to think the sacrifices required are justified, or even desirable. This way we can admire other bodies while still knowingly loving our own.

Trends catch on fast in the world of influencers and change just as quickly. To capitalize on them, it’s important to not just be first to the table, but to recognize their underlying motivators. That way, you can play creatively with a trend without disrupting its heart, leading to happy, healthy strategies, and great influencer-brand partnerships.

To learn more about influencer marketing trends – and the psychology of influence – sign up to Tailify’s Newsletter today, where we’ll be revealing the top new trends of the month, and discussing the psychology that drives them.

Alan Gray, senior research psychologist at Tailify.

TikTok Technology Influencer Marketing

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