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The lasting impact of "fact or cap"

Oct 25,2022
Emily Anderson
General Trends

Do you remember the "fact or cap" trend from 2021? It inspired Creators to test out various products, recipes, or theories they found on TikTok. You could find videos trying ways to stop the hiccups, getting to the bottom of urban legends, and seeing if cookies really do expand in the microwave.

That particular hashtag (#FactOrCap) has cooled a bit, peaking in July 2021. But it kicked off a massive shift in TikTok culture, where people debunk rumors they see on the platform. It's spread into countless communities, with people testing out theories about nutrition, history, and makeup. Over time, this debunking has become more nuanced; it's not always just someone trying out a product to see if it works exactly as shown. Now, it encompasses people questioning trends and analyzing pop culture.

Here's what you need to know about how this trend became so popular—and how brands can use it to effectively reach audiences on TikTok.

The call-out game is real

TikTok users don't want to just flag the stuff they find fishy—they want to call it out directly and set the record straight, either in the comments or in their own videos. That's how #FactOrCap trend began. Take, for instance, this video from @kianadanial. The idea of a home being a crucial financial asset is prevalent in the United States. But she challenges that notion here, in a video that's gained thousands of views and a wave of responses from viewers.

This trend works because it aligns with TikTok's core values. You might already know that authenticity is the name of the game on TikTok. Glossy, polished videos are not the key to a TikTok user's heart—you're better off being sincere, even if that means being a little messy. 73% of TikTok users agree that videos from brands need to feel homemade and real1.

Many of the Creators who debunk trends and myths don't sugar coat their points of view and their opinions aren't always popular. But they're staying true to themselves and sharing their honest thoughts, which is what matters most.

What this means for brands:

Honesty isn't always sunshine and rainbows. You can be direct with your messaging and use TikTok to fight misconceptions about your product, brand, market, or industry. Just make sure that your debunking videos align with your brand identity and overall campaign goals.

Otherwise, it could ring as insincere—which would have the opposite effect that you're going for. It also helps to integrate other creative elements that appeal to users, such as trends and humor. (Social/video platform users are 1.4x more likely to credit the humor in TikTok Creator-made branded content as a motivation for their purchase interest, compared to influencer content on other platforms2.)

A platform built for conversations

It could be said that any user on any platform can make content calling out what they view as "cap." But that behavior is especially potent on TikTok, where anyone can open the app to make the next super-popular video. 84% of those that create on the platform agree that all you really need to succeed on TikTok is a smartphone and some creativity and 78% of TikTok users agree you don’t have to be famous or have thousands of followers already to go viral on TikTok 3,4.

Plus, it's easy for users to join dialogues with fellow Creators. (80% of users feel that conversations and comments on TikTok feel open for anyone to join5.) The Duet and Stitch features provide intuitive, built-in means through which someone can directly respond to an existing video. On other platforms, response videos may get lost in the shuffle, or never really circulate outside of someone's immediate circle of followers. But thanks to the FYP, responses can enter the feed of anyone who may be interested in that topic.

What this means for brands:

It can be tricky for brands to Duet and Stitch videos, due to licensing matters. But even if you're not directly answering someone's content, you can pull inspiration from #FactOrCap by being matter-of-fact with your content, as people often are in those types of videos.

How different brands have jumped in

#FactOrCap can work for just about any product or brand, but we've seen it be particularly successful in the personal care and CPG spaces. (Which makes sense, given how much conflicting information exists about the ingredients in products like soaps and shampoos.)

La Roche Posay worked with @denverskindoc to talk about common misconceptions surrounding sunscreen. UV protection has become a bigger conversation in recent years, and there's a huge desire for clarity around when to use it.
Pantene partnered with Creator-slash-dermatologist @drcharlesmd1 on a video about silicone-based conditioners. His advice? To talk to a real-life dermatologist for guidance, because they'll probably know best.
Head and Shoulders partnered with Creator @mrs.b.tv, who's also a science teacher, to break down the nuts and bolts of what causes dandruff and how to address it. She did so using her signature, prop-driven storytelling style.
. .

What brands can learn from these examples:

  • Let Creators refine the vision: In the above videos, Creators used their true, honest voices, which is key for driving a bottom line; 71% of social/video platform users indicated qualities related to a Creators’ or influencers' authenticity motivated them to buy a product/brand6.

  • Pick vertical experts: Relying on knowledgeable talent (like doctors or teachers) means they can be themselves while imparting sincere, quality information in their video.

  • Let the story breathe: Notice that the products weren't named right away in these videos? That left the Creators open to tell the brand/product stories in an interesting way that aligned with their creative style.

More ways to jump into #FactOrCap

Here's some #inspo to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Joke around: Debunking videos can be funny and irreverent. That's a great option for brands/products that don't require fact-checking, like QSR. Example: A restaurant brand could make a video about whether it's fact or cap that someone can eat 15 hamburgers in 10 minutes. And then prove it/debunk it on-camera. I've personally never tried, so I hope a brand actually does this, so I can know the answer.

  • Analyze trends: You can explore a trend that's related to your brand, then discuss it in a TikTok video. Example: A tech brand that makes smartphones could see if younger generations actually use video chat more often by taking a poll at your HQ office, then filming people's responses.

That's it!

Ready to try out your own fact or cap video? Head to our Ads Manager to get your campaign started—or, if you want more inspiration to build your concept, visit our Creative Center for trends and insights. Happy TikTok-ing ✨

Sources:

  • 1 TikTok Marketing Science Global Community and Self-Expression Study 2021 conducted by Flamingo
  • 2 TikTok Marketing Science Global Creators Like Me Study, 2021, conducted by Hotspex
  • 3 TikTok Marketing Science Global Community and Self-Expression Study 2021 conducted by Flamingo
  • 4 TikTok Marketing Science Global Community and Self-Expression Study 2021 conducted by Flamingo
  • 5 TikTok Marketing Science Global Community and Self-Expression Study 2021 conducted by Flamingo
  • 6 TikTok Marketing Science Global Creators Like Me Study, 2021, conducted by Hotspex
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