Byte-Size | Trend Digest #1 | August 2022
Welcome to We Are Social’s new monthly social and cultural trend digest, covering the best the internet has to offer.
Since the meteoric rise of apps such as TikTok, the speed of the internet life cycle means trends are becoming increasingly harder to pin down. Trends tend to reflect the state of consumer attitudes and can be successfully spotted when it connects to broader cultural movements, unearths new behaviours or reattaches itself to cyclical or generational trends.
We Are Social’s Junior Strategist, Sarah Moody, has identified 5 key trends setting the internet alight in the past month.
1. keeping it Real
Young Australians are looking for ways to be more nonchalant online by embracing apps that are less crafted and more candid. Social users are looking to escape the effort of ultra-curation and reclaim their everyday reality via alternative social platforms like the anti-filter, anti-influencer app – BeReal and POPARAZZI, the platform which bans selfies.
BeReal creates a friend-only feed made up of dual-camera daily snippets, that allow users a new way to connect authentically with their actual friends. Popular for its surprise once-a-day push notification, and pressure-induced countdown timer, the app literally stops people in their tracks. Currently, It’s the #1 App in Australia (App Store) with 2.93 million daily active users whilst POPARAZZI has already generated 5 million downloads and over 100 million posts.
BeReal discourse has unsurprisingly invited some critique over the illusion that the app provides solace from the pressures to perform. As Rob Horning wrote for Real Life Mag, “The implication is that methodically catching people off-guard is a surefire way to ascertain their truth, because their conscious will always serves to disguise rather than reveal their character.” I have never felt such second-hand pressure to capture and present her reality, than this girl trying to take her BeReal at a Harry Styles concert – I mean, did it really happen if there’s no picture to prove it?!
Amidst BeReal’s rapid success, Instagram has already released its own dual-camera feature, signalling plans to adopt the BeReal format and compliment the popularity of its own ‘photo-dump’ trend, which showcases similar audience behaviours. Although the app may never be fully authentic, this trend indicates a general push for branded content to be less aspirational and a little more down to earth.
#2 The Absurdity of Dall-E
Last year, AI research company OpenAI launched Dall-E mini, an AI tool which creates dream-like and hyper-realistic renditions of any given word. After casual internet users discovered the tool could create infinite versions of the same concept, it spawned a grid meme format that is flooding social feeds.
What’s captivating about the DALL-E mini is its futuristic use of technology combined with human-like flaws. The most popular Twitter account is Weird Dall-E Generations (@weirddalle), boasting 1 million followers, named after the original subreddit. Although still in beta, the DALL-E anthropomorphic technology has plenty of room to reach its full potential and push boundaries in the digital art space.
Heinz recently tapped into viral tech as an evolution of its famous “Draw Ketchup” campaign. Where relevant, this trend provides the opportunity for brands to test audience perceptions and push creative boundaries.
#3 Minion Madness
Over its opening weekend, “Minions: The Rise of Gru” raked in $125M USD and shattered box office records, partly thanks to the #Gentleminions trend (260 million views), the brain-child of Australian creator, Bill Hirst.
The trend involved large groups of young men attending box office screenings dressed confidently in suit and tie. While it quickly became contentious, as movie theatres began banning #Gentleminions for rowdy behaviour, it’s a trend that transcended the internet to become an IRL cultural-meme. #Gentleminions embodies a Gen Z communication style – a collective-inspired by internet culture. This isn’t the first time this year we’ve seen memes dictate the box office, with the satirical enthusiasm surrounding “Morbius” inspiring many memes, even causing an entirely new release, which has been fairly cited as the meme’s best possible outcome.
Ultimately, people just want something to rally around, and memes can be an easy way in. The trend provides inspiration for brands to consider how viral internet memes that form collectives can be translated effectively (and responsibly) into real world events.
4. The Stranger Things Effect
‘Retro-marketing’ has been defined as the revival of a historical period, updated to ultra-modern standards with the goal to induce feelings of “pseudo-nostalgia.” Netflix’s Stranger Things Season 4 was such a massive hit that fans are keeping the momentum going long after the epic finale, by bringing 80s fashion, hairstyles and music firmly into the present day.
The show gave 80s artists Kate Bush and Metallica a renewed significance as they represent the characters and plot line so beloved to the fans. At the realm is newcomer and fan favourite, Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) – a misunderstood metalhead, who has captured the hearts of TikTok and beyond. However, Munson’s rendition of Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” in the final episode inspired a clash of fandoms, proving old doesn’t always see eye to eye with new.
With brands such as 80s-favourite surf brand, Quicksilver, producing a capsule collection inspired by the show, the trend reinforces how brands can use entertainment nostalgia and generational trend cycles to resurrect old products, services or campaigns.
5. TikTok Is Unsatisfied
Young people on TikTok are rejecting mediocrity and turning to the fringes. The middle ground has lost its appeal, due to an algorithm that rewards extreme behaviour and speaks to Gen Z’s desire for uniqueness.
New language rejecting mediocrity pop up on a minute-by-minute basis, but new terms set for the long-haul include ‘S/he’s a 10 but…’ (439 million views) – introducing the ‘icks’ that detract from someone’s dating suitability and ‘mid’ (1.9 billion views) – shorthand for mid-tier / mediocre, as an insult for something that isn’t sufficiently impressive or inspiring.
The trend reveals the ever-changing nature of language and its consequences when navigating brand positioning. As the middle ground becomes the subject of contention, brands need to look to the fringes for creative ways to stand out.
For now, TikTok is the best example for the fast-paced, constant churning of meme culture, that gives us insight into how trends propagate. However, as content evolves, technology progresses and new platforms enter the market, it becomes all the more important for brands to pinpoint what’s a meaningful trend over unsustainable hype.
The Feed is We Are Social’s global cultural insights publication. It’s a collection of digital or social ‘artefacts’ that highlight bigger shifts in society and culture from changes in audience behaviour to major platform developments.
Sarah Moody is a Junior Strategist at We Are Social. She loves to find cool stuff causing chaos on the internet. The tackier the better.