Outsiders to the app may find the idea of a ‘TikTok community’ bizarre. Isn’t it just a bunch of 14-year-olds dancing? People who don’t know what POV means? How low is the bar for the term ‘community’ if this can stand for one?

In reality, TikTok plays host to burgeoning communities you might not even have known exist, with everything from the wiccan to the wacky being delivered in short-video format.

TikTok has thousands of legitimate, multi-layered and extremely popular communities and sub-cultures. These include BookTok, MoneyTok, WitchTok and CottageCore.

Given how tightly-targeted the average TikTok session can be, with users only seeing what the app thinks they want to see, many of these communities have only been experienced by the people in them. Want to learn more about these particular corners of the digital age? Here’s the scoop on twenty in more detail.

20. PlantTok

Don’t laugh. If you’re laughing, close the tab. This article isn’t for you. We’re judgement-free for the next five or so minutes.

PlantTok is no joke. The hashtag boasts 3 billion views. Billion, that’s right. It turns out humans are a lot more caring towards all things green (no, there’s none of that here) than some of us may have thought. As seasoned professionals will tell you, the anxiety involved in keeping a plant alive, especially an expensive one, is real. Worrying about yellowing leaves, potential bug infestations, all these topics are covered and remedied on PlantTok.

19. SkinTok

Skinfluencers (stay with us), a mix of dermatologists, estheticians and general skincare enthusiasts such as Hyram Yarbro and Ashley White have been running riot on social media for a while no with their product reviews and tips. They, and they millions of fans they’ve accrued, have created a SkinTok community big enough to rival any other. The hashtag #SkinTok has 4.4 billion views, while related hashtags like #skincare has 96.5 billion views, while #skincarebyhyram has 2.5 billion views. Some skin condition-specific hashtags like #acne has 27.4 billion views.

Brands have been known to collaborate with prominent skinfluencers on SkinTok. Peace Out Skincare’s pore strips saw a “fourfold increase” within 24 hours after they began working with Yarbro, while CeraVe collaborated with him after he frequently praised the brand - turning it into a “cult favorite” among Generation Z. Once influencer praising The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% peeling solution directly contributed to a surge in sales of the product with 52,000 units sold in just two weeks. However, while SkinTok and skinfluencers have the power to improve a brand’s sales, they’re also capable of breaking one with their honest reviews.

18. #AltGirl

AltGirl videos typically feature style tutorials, comedy sketches, dancing, skating, and more. They are often set to alternative music, punk rock, and other alternative music. Given that the name serves as an umbrella term for a host of aesthetics, Alt Girls are often linked with eGirls, softgirls, WitchTok, and other subcultures within the app.

Alt Girl aesthetic is made up of distinct makeup hair, clothing, and accessories. Heavy winged eyeliner, patterns drawn on the face with makeup, bold lipstick, face piercings, dyed hair with two strips dyed in the front, and partially shaved eyebrows are some of the features adorned by followers of the lifestyle. Chains, studded jewelry, black clothing, touches of neon, Doc Martens, band t-shirts, cut clothing, lace, and short skirts are other staples.

17. CleanTok

While most people were cooped up in their houses during lockdown baking banana bread, others were perfecting the art of cleaning. Finally, they had endless amounts of time to dedicate to whipping up the house from top to bottom. To have a TikTok community helping them out was the icing on the cake. CleanTok couldn’t have come at a better time.

#cleaningTikTok has over 6 billion views. Other trending hashtags include #cleanwithme, #cleaningamr, #deepclean, #cleaningmotivation. If you want to be experience some true large-scale cleaning on TikTok, have a peek at #poolcleaning, which has enjoyed over 600 million views. #Toiletcleaning has garnered over 100 million views.

16. WriterTok

Although not as popular as BookTok, WriterTok still garners a serious following. With over 970 million views, WriterTok takes an old dusty professions and slings it into the 21st Century, allowing users to share prompts, tips and tricks as well as memes pertaining to the struggles of the lifestyle: isolation, mental blocks, procrastination, drinking on the job.

One viral TikTok created by user @escapewithsophx shares the prompt “If you were to write a book about two lovers who were destined to destroy each other, what would the last line be?” A lot of the content is cute like this but it’s well worth a gander, even if you’ve never written a sentence of prose in your life.

15. TheatreKid

If anyone was hit by lockdown hard (except key workers obviously) it was theatre kids. The dimming of the lights, the red curtain rising, the sea of faces, the wave of adulation, the laughter, the gasps, the tears. All of it was taken away for months on end, leaving industry veterans clueless in their homes, isolated, yearning for movement and expressions. So basically they all got together and remade Disney’s Ratatouille.

The viral sensation started off simply enough. Elementary school teacher, Emily Jacobsen, couldn’t get a song about the world’s most famous rat out of her head. She posted it on TikTok, expecting a giggle or two, unknowingly setting off a chain of events. The song was reposted by influencer Brittany Broski, before being improved by composer Daniel Mertzlufft who was the first to declare the song an Act II Disney Finale. The whole thing snowballed and suddenly, there were set designs, costume sketches, and original songs.

14. ThirstTok

Just because TikTok has some nudity bans in place doesn’t mean users can’t get pretty saucy from time to time. Viral trends such as the “Silhouette Challenge” or the “Buss It Challenge” prove that there’s life in the old dog yet. That some users fancy a bit of seedy dark with their fluffy light when it comes to content. Naturally, however, there are worries that younger users are at risk of seeing this NSFW content by accident.

TikTok has created parental controls that can limit screen time and restrict some content, and some creators place 18+ disclaimers on their videos. But policing is a bit futile considering just how much content is pumped onto the platform every single second. With over 700 million people using TikTok every month, and an average of 55% of them posting a video in that time frame, more than 12 million videos would need to be screened daily, just to protect your child from seeing a saucy video.

13. MomTok

The idea of a “mom” being a driving force in creating an empire for her children has gone from being a silly meme sprouted from the Kardashians, to a legitimate career. Moms are now expected to be entreprenuers. People who call the shots, bring home the bread, and wear sunglasses to bed. The reality is that most are posting videos on TikTok poking fun at the reality of motherhood.

In the United States, around 82% of new parents are millennials, and millennial mothers are born brand ambassadors, recommending products online, unsolicited, more than 10 times per month according to one study. They are also highly influential with their peers, with 55% saying people “frequently” ask their opinion when buying a product. Gen Z and millennials are reportedly driving America’s economic recovery by spending more than they did pre-pandemic, leaving businesses drooling.

12. SpiritualTok

A religion and spirituality behavioral survey recently found “spirituality” practices like astrology, dream interpretation, essential oils, witchcraft, and tarot are more popular than ever among young consumers. 62% of 13–39-year-olds say mystical healing / supernatural practices are becoming mainstream. The percentage of young people who say mystical healing and supernatural powers can influence health has increased by 19% compared to 2017, and 63% agree it can be a part of self-care.

The #SpirtualTok hashtag has 5.9 million views, and features users talking about everything from astrology to New Age concepts. Other related hashtags like #tarot, which has 10.8 billion views. All of the increased interest in things like reincarnation, astrology and physics has also led to an increase in sales. Astrology site Dazed Digital saw a 22% increase in horoscope-related traffic compared in 2020 compared to the year before, while Bloomberg reported that the market for gems and healing crystals were overtaking the diamond market.

11. #WaterCult/#Hydration

That’s right, even water is a trend on TikTok. Simple Modern water bottles were one of the first to stir excitement after TikTok influencer Tinx introduced her fans to the brand’s Classic Tumbler last fall, calling it an “adult sippy cup.” The Adventure Quencher Travel Tumbler, Waterdrop, Fidus Motivational Water Bottle, Coldest, Cirkul, and gallon water bottles became the next hyped up #hydration successes after influencers such as Rachel Parcell, Peloton instructor Emma Lovewell, lifestyle influencer Grace Atwood, and even the Kardashians shared their appreciation of the bottles.

Cirkul, which launched in 2018, witnessed a significant rise in sales due to their popularity on TikTok, with the order volume growing over 300% from December 2020 to March 2021. “Water Cult”, coined by writer Danielle Prescod on Instagram, has become the young consumer guide for all things #hydration, which currently has 550 million views on TikTok.

10. WitchTok

Okay, you might have heard about WitchTok. When the videos on the hashtag have a combined 24.7 billion views, it’s hard to call this niche. But just because you’ve heard about doesn’t mean you may necessarily understand it. Across these videos, you’re likely to see tarot card readings, crystal reviews and spell chants – although, alongside all the pageantry we’ve come to know and love about witchcraft, it’s not all potions and broomsticks. The community also embraces those inclined to wellness and spirituality. Those who are just trying to better themselves by certain ritualistic means.

Historically, witchcraft has been an unpopular and secret practice, so to see it thrive as much as it has, connecting millions of like-minded people the world over who would never come across each other were it not for TikTok (if not social media at large) is a special thing.

9. #Rollerskating

2020’s lockdown saw the rise of many things: sourdough, the digitised pub quiz, clapping. Over on TikTok, however, there was something else tweaking the interests of the general public – roller skating. 7 billion views have been notched up on #Rollerskating and understandably so. To browse this hashtag is to vibe to an endless feed of aesthetic glory, whether it be the fashion, the music or humans doing backflips on wheels.

But why? Escapism, nostalgia, whatever you want to call it, has a huge grasp on Gen Z. Yes, watching footage from the 1970s can look great, but it also serves as the ultimate distraction from current dread and uncertainty. And if that doesn’t make you wanna get your skates on, what could? This is one to get involved with if you already haven’t.

8. MoneyTok

This one’s a little less fun and more pragmatic. The stark truth of it is that Gen Z – who are set make up 30% of the workforce by 2030 – have come of age during several financial crashes and a pandemic. The fabled “best years of their lives” have been marred by arguably a lot more bad luck than previous generations. As a result, there’s a growing community around personal finance.

#MoneyTok boasts 11.5 billion views. Captions on these videos will be along the lines of ‘The best credit cards for beginners’, ‘Habits that will make me a millionaire by 40’, and ‘Which tax software to use this year.’ Now, don’t turn your nose up – TikTok traders doubled meme cryptocurrency Dogecoin’s value in 2020. According to a recent Nielsen study, around 54% of Gen Z indicated they wanted to start their own company. They said having control, being debt-free, and living a purposeful life were amongst the driving forces for this ambition.

7. BookTok

It’s a common criticism of young people, that with all their quick-fix technology, they no longer care for the humble old paperback. Those assumptions, you’ll be pleased to hear, are evidently untrue. TikTok’s #BookTok at the time of writing has a whopping 43.8 billion views. 43.8 billion! The population of earth is 7.7 billion.

Yep, Gen Z has sparked a revolution across the app with book recommendations, dramatic readings and general lobbying for literature. Such is the power of #BookTok, that previously published novels are becoming bestsellers, like Adam Silvera’s They Both Die At The End. From the beginning of 2021, the hashtag has seen a 39.4% increase in engagement and a 4568% increase in the number of videos created since July 2020. Publishers are now considering TikTok a serious platform to market future titles on. If you’re looking for a community to join, you’re not likely to find a more welcoming one.

6. #CottageCore and the sustainability community

The sustainable living lifestyle is rapidly becoming less of a fringe movement and more mainstream. Nowhere is that more evident than on TikTok. The #CottageCore hashtag alone has 9.2 billion views, and to create content around environmental issues is to engage with giant numbers of users and communities.

With TikTok lauding itself as a platform where users can find more information than they would on traditional media outlets, it has been at the forefront of Gen Z’s conversation around the climate crisis, a phenomenon they’ve been born into. #CottageCore taps into this desire to leave behind the congested, expensive and often damaging city life and lap up the fruits of the wholesome, naturally-occurring countryside. Paramount to this community is DIY, upcycling and sustainability, which has led to a 900% increase in searches for the term on Depop. On top of that, we’re also seen an astounding 22.71% engagement rate on cottagecore-related content – 58.7% higher than the 14.3% average engagement rate on TikTok.

5. The Tourette community

#Tourettes has 5.6 billion views, 1.8 billion views of #tourettesawareness, and 1.6 billion views of #tourettesyndrome. It’s easy to see why, with identity and individuality being celebrated more than ever among younger generations. TikTokkers living with the neurological condition are doing great work to destigmatise and educate users on not only Tourette Syndrome but disabilities in general, in an often light-hearted, self-deprecating manner.

Zara Beth, or @zeezee25, is a 16-year-old Tourette syndrome advocate with 1.8 million fans who went viral after a video of her attempting to take a COVID-19 test generated 83.4 million views, 14.5 million likes, 127,000 comments and about 708,000 shares. Since then, Zara has uploaded many videos detailing what it’s like to deal with Tourette’s in normal, everyday scenarios.

4. Study with me

Another community hit is the #Studywithme hashtag which is fast approaching 3 billion views. Study With Me capitalises on another common malaise among Gen Z: loneliness. Users are encouraged to watch others - or film themselves - studying, whether that be at home or in the library. The background music can be lo-fi or classical. There might not be any music at all, opting instead for the ASMR triggers of pages being turned or pens scraping across paper.

At a time of sensory overload and isolation, #studywithme functions as a kind of free therapy. Not only does it encourage users to stop scrolling for a few minutes (if not hours) but it provides them with a source of companionship. Recent Harvard research found that 61% of people aged 18 to 25 reported high levels of feeling lonely “frequently” or “almost all the time or all the time.” One creator to follow from this community is @medical_kat, a Dublin-based medical student with a Discord, TikTok, Instagram and YouTube channel. In this content, she shares tips and resources for students, motivating followers week-in week-out. With almost 430,000 fans and 6.7 million likes, her influence has spread far and wide.

3. ArtTok

Much like #BookTok, it makes sense that art also commands a sprawling audience on TikTok. The benefits of showcasing new art to an unlimited number of people in 60-second snippets or longer, has proved popular with artists and art collectors alike. Some artists have even made TikTok their main source of income and exposure.

Matt Chessco has created a new way of unveiling art by means of music. In one video, Chessco mime-taps his paintbrushes on a canvas to a cover of Crazy Train, with each section of an Elon Musk portrait revealing itself on every beat. Off the back of this success, he began selling paintings for $2,000 a pop. Fellow artists eventually copied his performances, painting style and even music choices. Another visual artist, Ben Labuzzetta, or @artboy200, received 29 million views of his videos memorialising Kobe and Gianna Bryant after their fatal crash. Around 10,000 people flooded his inbox in one day and ultimately, he chose to stick with TikTok at the expense of admission to the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Ben has since earned a steady income and several collaboration opportunities in the last year.

2. 30 Something TikTok

Being a TikTok user in your 30s can be a strange feeling. You’re not officially old but seeing actual children creating content can leave you feeling out of the loop. Like you’re not wanted. Enter #30somethingoftiktok. 60 percent of TikTok users are Gen Zers, but that’s not to discount those in their thirties who are enamoured with the app. According to App Ape data via Statista, women in the US aged 30 to 39 are the second largest group of monthly active TikTok users and represent about 14% of the app’s user base on Android devices. They also happen to be the highest spending generation, with $1.4 trillion in disposable income in 2020.

#30somethingoftiktok hashtag boasts 13.8 million views while #30stiktok has 7.1 million. The hashtags #tiktokinyour30s and #over30stiktok are up there too. Chelsea Aberkane, AKA @borealis_beauty, has earned over 15,000 followers and more than 50,000 likes through mainly beauty-focused content, but is partial to the odd inspirational video. Yoko Okumura, is a thirty-something director, writer, performer, and the face behind @directoryoko. She creates videos for over 17,000 followers and has earned almost 290,000 likes. Yoko discusses her job, new hobbies, film and how to be comfortable with age, inspiring millions like her on the app.

1. Goblincore

Goblincore, AKA Goth’s answer to CottageCore. On this hashtag, you’re likely to see the slimer, squidgier side of the countryside celebrated. Snails, moss, spiders, mushrooms. In an age of keeping up perfect, unattainable appearances, #Goblincore embraces reality and all its sweaty and messy imperfection.

Trends expert Sabrina Faramarzi claims, “Goblincore is cottagecore for those that actually spend time in nature [who] know that nature is not sunlit wheat fields but gnarly forests and chaotic animals. Often referred to as dark cottagecore, the aesthetic also picks up some of the occult. After long lockdowns, perhaps spending lots of money collecting and surrounding ourselves with a bunch of things we don’t need, wearing loose, neutral clothing and taking lots of walks, I think we all feel a little bit like goblins right now.”