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In less than four years, TikTok has gone from an upstart social media app to setting records as the fastest-growing social media app. With 1 billion active users and more than 3 billion downloads since it was rolled out in 2017, it still ranks seventh in the number of users across all social media apps — but boasts the longest engagement time. With an average session length of 10.85 minutes, it more than doubles the time spent on Pinterest, which clocks in at the No. 2 spot.   

Part of the app’s appeal is its diverse categories, which range from recipes and cooking to outdoors to, of course, dance. But the different categories enjoy very different levels of popularity, and knowing what followers are looking for can be an excellent guide to understanding what categories are drawing the greatest number of views and boast the highest levels of engagement. According to research by Statista, these are the top 10 most popular categories of content based on hashtag views: 

Most-viewed TikTok categories

Entertainment

This type of video has far outpaced other TikTok categories. According to Nielsen, people turn to TikTok to lift their mood, and the app has content to do just that. It’s also a broader-reaching hashtag than most, as it includes comedy, skits, duets, magic, special effects, and even #oddlysatisfying content. Part of the fun of this category is that you never know what you’re going to find — and that makes the search all the more addictive. 

Dance

The dance category is part of TikTok’s DNA, and the company has baked in features that make it easy for anyone to jump in and be part of the trend. The sound clip is one of the most compelling draws to get users to participate; it’s the app equivalent of your drunk buddies cheering you on to do karaoke: you just can’t resist. The dance category is a treasure trove of the good, the bad, and the hysterical. Everything from very basic foot-shuffling to highly choreographed routines live in this channel, and the playing field is leveled between professionally trained dancers and that guy who sat behind you in geometry. 

The most popular dance trends of 2021, according to TikTok, including the “Unwritten Remix” by  @Rony_boyy, a flash mob dance that had more than 44.1 million views and was even noticed by singer Natasha Bedingfield. The hashtag TikTokDance has more than 14.4 billion views.

Pranks

Back in the old days, the only way to make a prank go viral was to videotape it, send it to “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” and hope for the best. Thanks to social media, it’s much easier to share pranks and laughs — and as a result, more and more people are jumping on the bandwagon. While pranks are popular on most social media platforms, TikTok’s format makes it particularly easy to settle in and enjoy an endless parade of pranks (and maybe replicate them, too). That explains why this is one of the most popular TikTok categories, with some 79 billion views. 

Fitness/sports

You won’t find any 30-minute workout videos on TikTok, but you will find a great outlet for athletes and fitness buffs to offer tips, show off their moves and create greater engagement with followers. Whether they’re sharing memes, menus or muscles, influencers in the fitness and sports space are scoring big, with 57 billion views and counting, according to Statista. Many professional and Olympic athletes share their experiences on the app as well. 

Home reno/DIY

This category is huge online and on TV, so it’s no surprise that it’s smashing it on social media, too. It’s a great space for creators to share advice, tips, and hacks — and so far, billions of viewers have taken note. You’ll find more than 8.28 billion views on #homeimprovement videos alone.

Beauty/skin care

TikTok is a natural fit for beauty influencers, thanks to the video features that allow them to quickly show the process that takes them from bland to grand. There are more than 79.1 billion views on videos using the hashtag beauty and 75.5 billion views on videos using #skincare.

Fashion

There’s no limit to the ways fashion creators can showcase content. Whether showing off a new look, sharing clothing hauls, or sharing fashion tips and hacks, fashion is a hot channel with 122.7 billion views. 

Cooking/recipes

You don’t have to be a Michelin Star chef to cook up something great on TikTok. Even novice foodies can share video recipes, offer simple kitchen hacks, or throw in a fresh twist to a familiar recipe. And with 18 billion views, it’s clear that audiences have an appetite for this content. Popular food hashtags include #salmonrice, a trend made popular by Emily Mariko, which has 791 million views.

Life hacks/advice

During the pandemic, there was a greater need for positivity and uplifting content — and this category was one place to find it. From life hacks and encouraging comments to self-care tips and comments on mental health and well-being, this hashtag grew tremendously. The #lifehacks hashtag has more than 50.9 billion views.

Pets

Who doesn’t love a fuzzy cuddly pet? On TikTok, the pets hashtag has surpassed 42.4 billion views, and it’s not always your run-of-the-mill house cat or haute dog that’s catching the attention: The top TikTok animal influencer is a tiger and the top 20 also includes a ferret, gorilla, tortoise, and even a fox. Noodle the Pug is a popular pet creator who predicts whether viewers will have a bones or no bones day.

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