On October 19, 2021, TikTok announced their inaugural “Discover List,” which compiled the top ten creators in five categories. The list itself isn’t groundbreaking, but it certainly provides insight into the social culture and content direction being supported by the fastest-growing social media platform in 2021.
- What Is the TikTok Discover List?
- What Are the Criteria for the TikTok Discover List?
- Who Made the TikTok Discover List?
- What Can Your Brand Take Away from the TikTok Discover List?
What Is the TikTok Discover List?
The TikTok Discover List is basically the digital content creator’s version of the VIP list. TikTok identified five key categories of creators—icons, innovators, foodies, changemakers, and originators—and then created an alphabetical list of the top ten independent creators in each category.
While the TikTok Discover List is more for the public instead of being curated for brands, paying attention to these specific content creators and current trends could benefit your content strategy if you want to grow your presence on one of the most popular and innovative social media apps.
What Are the Criteria for the TikTok Discover List?
To create this list, TikTok’s community team—led by TikTok’s Director of Creator Community, Kudzi Chikumbu—nominated creators and then used metrics like engagement, views, video creations, account growth, likes, and interactions with followers to determine who made the cut for the inaugural list.
TikTok’s Discover List will be updated annually, and it’s likely that getting on this list could become a factor in the chosen creators’ chances of becoming famous both on and off the video creation platform. It will definitely be a space to watch in the years moving forward.
Who Made the TikTok Discover List?
According to TikTok, these creators “live and breathe TikTok culture.” They have massive followings and are recognizable across nearly every other social media platform. A common denominator among these creators is their focus on humor and wholesome comedy. Since TikTok was created as a space for entertainment, it makes sense that the Icons would consist of entertainers who get to the heart of the platform.
Tip: Pay attention to the hashtags these creators are using and their relationships with their followers. Analyze how they with engage their audience and create a sense of a real relationship through comments, stitches, duets, and other innovative interactions.
Notable Icons: Bella Poarch (@bellapoarch), Brittany Broski (@brittany_broski), Jay (@flossybaby), Mark Gaetano (@snarkymarky), Tabitha Brown (@iamtabithabrown)
This category is for creators who “put a new twist on what it means to be a content creator.” Think Icons who get fancy with their creativity, camera work, and humor. Innovators fall into a slightly different category because of their ability to push the boundaries of popular content formatting. Innovators aren’t afraid to break the rules when it comes to video creation while inspiring a positive emotional response from their viewers.
Tip: Check out the filters these creators use to spice up their content to be more visually engaging. Notice what the intended effect and purpose is to make their story more robust and original. Another option, if it’s within your creative scope and fits your message, is to incorporate other media into your video like 2D animation or stop motion.
Notable Innovators: Devon Rodriguez (@devonrodriguezart), Science Akbar (@king.science), Maddi Winter (@maddiwinter), Kyne Santos (@onlinekyne), Piff Marti (@piffmarti)
What would the internet be without pictures and videos of food? From travel TikTokers reviewing entree presentation in Venice to podcasters discussing politics over a Korean mukbang, the range of formatting that food content is now enjoyed through has expanded far beyond its humble beginnings. TikTok describes this Discover List category as creators who are “taking viewers on mouthwatering adventures on the For You page.”
Tip: Note how these creators present and display food before, during, and after their cooking process. How do the shots and voiceover work together to engage the audience? Look at the hashtags and filters they frequently use. Capitalizing on the momentum behind a specific hashtag can expand audience and reach significantly.
Notable Foodies: Jonathan Kung (@chefjonkung), Gabrielle Williams (@gabby.jaye), Hajar Larbah (@moribyan), Ana Regalado (@saltycocina), Joanna Molinaro (@thekoreanvegan)
As TikTok’s most ethically and socially-charged category, Changemakers are defined as creators who “speak up and speak out, advocating for others, and stand for something.” These are influencers tapping into the power and reach of social activism through a platform designed for quick bytes of entertainment.
Tip: Follow the Changemakers to hear underrepresented voices that you may not experience otherwise. Instead of using the hashtags to further your brand’s reach, use the things you’ve learned to enhance your brand’s culture from the inside out.
Notable Changemakers: Alexis Nelson (@alexisnikole), Shirley Raines (@beauty2thestreetz), Joel Bervell (@joelbervell), Jesús Morales (@juixxe), Ebony & Denise Nunez (@team2moms)
The last Discover List category is for the OGs. TikTok says these influencers are the creators who “create the trends we live for.” Think trending hashtags, viral dances, and sounds. These creators are dancing to the beat of their own drum with a finger directly on the pulse of TikTok’s global culture.
Tip: If you want to create content that derives from or utilizes another user’s or creator’s unique content, be sure to give them credit. This can go a long way in terms of your brand being part of the TikTok community, and it could even help you connect with potential influencers.
Notable Originators: Antoni Bumba (@antonibumba), Jalaiah Harmon (@jalaiahharmon), Keara Wilson (@keke.janajah), Ronald Michel (@rony_boyy), Tracy Joseph (@tracy.oj)
What Can Your Brand Take Away from the TikTok Discover List?
First, you can follow these creators so you can stay up-to-date on the latest TikTok culture. Success on TikTok boils down to whether your video is engaging, satisfying, and relatable to a large audience. Immersing yourself in the best of the best creators can also help you understand the blueprint of what makes a new content format successful. You can either adapt to these rules or break them in an effective way.
Also, watch for any trending topics, hashtags, or general themes you see among these creators. TikTok is one of the first digital spaces where you’ll see a cultural phenomenon get noticed, so by paying attention to the leaders of these conversations, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the curve.
Something else worth noting is that TikTok specifically mentioned the use of hashtags, filters, and the For You page on their Discover List announcement. This is because they’re training TikTok users just like we train our audiences—they love when users take advantage of these features because it’s part of what makes their platform work so well as a social media tool. Be sure to incorporate hashtags that are trending into your content since they work like an index for the algorithm to know what your content is about.