By Amanda Incalcaterra
Since the worldwide isolation due to Covid-19 in 2020, TikTok has become one of the most popular and rapidly growing social media platforms of all time. According to Forbes, the app, which is a short-form video-sharing platform, had a 75% growth from January to September 2020. Since then, the platform has had steady growth and is now estimated to have 1.8 billion users from all over the world.
TikTok has an algorithm that makes it fairly easy for anyone, regardless of their follower count, to go viral. As opposed to other social media platforms, TikTok’s main page, the “For You” page, allows people to discover content from users that they don’t follow. This allows smaller brands and aspiring content creators to be easily discovered. Because the majority of the users are teenagers and young adults, a very impressionable audience, influencers on TikTok are obviously prompting their followers to buy their favorite products.
Over the past few months, there has been a very quick rise of “haul” videos from these influencers, where they buy, for example, a makeup brand’s new products. They then talk about their favorite products in the line, and their audience buys said products. Many of these videos pop up on one’s “For You” page daily, which makes trends come and go extremely quickly.
Influencers are nothing new, but with the rise of TikTok, its algorithm that makes it easier to get views and the fast-paced rotation of trends on the app, it seems like there is a new fan-favorite influencer every month.
One of the most well-known influencers on the app right now is Alix Earle, who skyrocketed into fame in December of 2022. In just one month, she gained nearly 2 million followers and now has almost 5 million followers to her name. Known by many to be the app’s newest “it-girl,” she has been calling all of the shots on the newest fashion and makeup trends.
Amazon Storefront is one of the tools Earle uses to refer her audience to her go-to products. It is a feature on Amazon that allows creators or brands to create their own websites with links to their products. When something is bought off of one’s Storefront, they receive a profit. In most of Earle’s “get ready with me” videos, she gives her site a shoutout, prompting her followers to buy her favorite products.
Teenagers who are eager to keep up with the trends have thus adopted a “TikTok made me buy it” attitude. I have definitely seen this firsthand. Having been a retail worker over winter break, I was met with a lot of teenagers showing me Earle’s TikToks and asking me if the store had any of her favorite products in stock. This was a daily occurrence, and it was so interesting to see how one person could reach so many people through TikTok.
However, these teens have seemingly no issues regarding how wasteful these habits tend to be. For example, if an influencer’s favorite lip gloss is trending, everyone runs to buy it. Then the next week, another influencer shouts out another brand’s lip gloss, and everyone runs to buy the next “best lip gloss ever.” This is a never ending occurrence, and with the fast cycling of influencers, there also comes a fast cycling of trends.
We are all human, and we are bound to be influenced by social media creators, but we should all take a step back and recognize how our spending habits could be harmful to the planet. So maybe when the next “best lip gloss ever” is trending, we should finish the one we already have and buy products when we really need them instead.