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TikTok By The Numbers: How Trend Engagement Shapes Internet Culture

Dancing teens, surreal memes and potentially dangerous misinformation about cooking chicken in cough syrup — you will find all this and more on TikTok, the world's largest social media platform. But how should we receive TikTok and its effects on our society?

This report, which dives into three prominent TikTok memes and analyzes the ways they are viewed, shared, saved, liked and commented on, hopes to offer some context about memes and social interaction on the platform.

TikTok, which started in 2016 but reached broad adoption after merging with Musical.ly in late 2018, boasts 1.5 billion monthly active users and has largely remade the world of memes. As shown in our Meme Origins Report, TikTok has quickly become one of the biggest platforms giving rise to new internet trends.

50.00% 40.00% 30.00% 20.00% 10.00% 0.00% 2011 2012 Platforms As Percentage Of Total Origin Over Time 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 - YouTube 4chan Instagram - Twitter - Facebook Reddit TikTok Vine - Tumblr | | | Know Your Meme

The rise of the platform is easily one of the most important online developments of the past five years — and we're not the only ones who think so. Everybody from The New York Times to Fox News is covering TikTok and its massive influence on culture.

In this report, we'll compare a few case studies of notable TikTok memes to think about how the platform works: Quandale Dingle, Tortilla Slap Game and Nobody's Gonna Know.

By breaking down the ways in which each of these memes spread and analyzing patterns of user interaction, we can gain insight into how TikTok shapes conversations and influences everything from world politics to zoomer slang.

FBI FBI Agent TikTok V Spies on you V Spies on you V Sends your data to foreign nations X Sends your data to foreign nations X Cares about you / Cares about you X Alerts you regularly V Alerts you regularly X Misses you when on V Misses you when on summer break summer break u/Poha-Jalebi

Quandale Dingle

Perhaps one of the most important things to happen on TikTok in 2021 and 2022 was the arrival of Quandale Dingle. The original meme, showing a user login screen on a Windows desktop computer for an individual actually named Quandale Dingle, picked up traction on TikTok back in the summer of 2021.

who tf goofy ass name is this bruh Quandale Dingle

But it wasn't until late February 2022 that the meme really got off the ground after the name "Quandale Dingle" was combined with a variety of other meme techniques, such as Red Circle Perpetrators and goofy ahh sounds.


There was a lot of lore about Quandale Dingle too. Memes often made absurdist claims about his whereabouts and actions (he invaded the nation of Italy, he slept with your mom, law enforcement is pursuing him, etc.). In March 2022, the lore exploded as audio tracks describing Quandale Dingle (like the one by YouTuber ticklemytip or another by our own Editor-in-Chief Don Caldwell) hopped onto TikTok and went viral.

The chart below shows the general trajectory of interest in Quandale Dingle, as approximated by looking at traffic to our entry. There are two peaks. The first, around March 2022, marks the initial vitality of the meme. The second peak is in the summer, likely due to the emergence of revelations (and possible footage) of the "real" Quandale Dingle, who is a high schooler in Pennsylvania, graduating from high school.

Quandale Dingle - Daily Unique Views 4,688 4,500 4,000 3,500 3,000 2,500 2,000 1,500 1,000 500 03/01/2022 0 03/01/2022 04/01/2022 05/01/2022 06/01/2022 07/01/2022 08/01/2022 09/01/2022 10/01/2022 04/15/2022 When 06/12/2022 wwwwww 08/09/2022 11/06/2022 10/05/2022 11/06/2022

These three Quandale Dingle memes are strategically chosen. The first, by quandeldingel69ftc, is the first meme that comes up when you enter "Quandale Dingle" into TikTok's search bar, months after initial vitality — it's the one that the algorithm, at least, finds most relative. This meme was posted during the comedown from Quandale's second and highest peak, on June 15th, 2022.


The second, by TikToker obitra, is a meme pivotal to the February 2022 popularization of Quandale Dingle.


The third is Know Your Meme's explainer TikTok post about Quandale Dingle, from our official account. The voice clip from this video was later remixed and re-used for later Quandale Dingle memes. While these three can't represent the full range of Quandale Dingle memes, they do show a decent sample, both across time and reception.


Looking at three Quandale Dingle memes on TikTok, it seems as if the meme could be defined not just by the presence of the Quandale Dingle character, but by a specific pattern of interaction.

In each of the memes, there is about a 6:1 ratio of total views to total likes. There is also about a 4:1 ratio of saves to shares. The ratio of comments to likes also seems to be in the same range (about 40:1 across the last two, and 70:1 in the first). These ratios can be found in the chart below.

Quandale Dingle: Likes-to-Views Ratio LIKES VIEWS @quandeldingel69ftc @obitra @knowyourmeme 0% 25% 50% 75% 100%

Consistently, there are about six times as many views as likes on each Quandale Dingle meme regardless of the total number of views and likes.
Quandale Dingle: Comments-to-Saves-to-Shares Ratio @quandeldingel69ftc @obitra @knowyourmeme 0% COMMENTS 25% SAVES SHARES 50% 75% 100%
The ratio of comments to shares to saves also remains similar from meme to meme, with more posters choosing to save than share the memes.

This pattern suggests that one in six viewers of Quandale Dingle memes interact with the meme by liking it — meaning a substantial number of these TikTokers are not passively scrolling, but actively intervening.

The preference for saving over sharing also indicates that the Quandale Dingle meme tends to be a more private, individual experience, and the absurdist "goofy ahh" memers are using TikTok to collect content for a personal meme stash.

Nobody's Gonna Know

A similar story is told by TikToks related to the Nobody's Gonna Know sound. The audio, which comes from the American TV show Bad Girls Club, is a dialogue exchange between two characters in which one reassures the other that "nobody's gonna know."

Posters on TikTok often lip-sync the dialogue while doing some stealthy action or setting up some ruse. The audio acts like the internal monologue of the person recording the TikTok as they make a plan.

Nobody's Gonna Know - Daily Unique Views 2,097 2,000 1,800 1,600 1,400 1,200 1,000 800 600 400 200 выватилимимни tod постилниториантиловитыным 0 09/17/2020 01/01/2021 04/01/2021 07/01/2021 10/01/2021 01/01/2022 04/01/2022 07/01/2022 Imam 11/06/2022

The earliest instance of the audio used as a meme happened in the spring of 2020, meaning it arrived pretty early on in TikTok's rise and right at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This TikTok sound is generally used by people doing something alone to deceive others. The first of our three TikToks using the sound is the original, by cgleason22.


The second is a high-engagement posting of the sound from late 2020, which sees a reinterpretation and joke on the theme itself — the poster's ruse is unsuccessful.


The third is a highly viewed and liked posting of the meme from two years later in August 2022, which sees a TikToker pair the audio with their plan to conceal booze inside tampons. By that point, the soundbite had become a relatively well-known sound on TikTok that many people recognized.


they’re gonna know

♬ how would they know bad girls club – Chris Gleason

While the ratios are not as constant as they are between the Quandale Dingle memes, one thing stands out: The ratio of views to likes is 10:1, 6:1 and 7:1 across each TikTok. Viewers seem to be roughly as engaged as in the Quandale Dingle memes.

The save-to-share ratios are also much lower, with two of the "Nobody's Gonna Know" TikToks being saved and shared in about equal amounts. Viewers of these TikToks are collecting them, but they are also sending and receiving them.

Nobody's Gonna Know: Likes-to-Views Ratio @cgleason22 @annieandmummy @monicagreatgal 0% LIKES VIEWS 25% 50% 75% 100%
The views to likes ratio from meme to meme varies but stays roughly in the same overall range.
Nobody's Gonna Know: Comments-to-Saves-to-Shares Ratio @cgleason22 @annieandmummy @monicagreatgal 0% COMMENTS 25% SAVES 50% SHARES 75% 100%
The comments to shares to saves ratio shows that this meme is being shared as often as it is being saved.

Usually, when people send content to each other on social media, it's to somebody who's already in their social circle. So, it's plausible that a difference between this zone of TikTok and the Quandale Dingle zone might be that the Nobody's Gonna Know meme moves along preexisting social groups, while Quandale Dingle is more purely online.

Perhaps this could explain why Nobody's Gonna Know has what some would consider a more "normie" vibe.

Tortilla Slap Game

As far as TikTok challenges go, the Tortilla Slap Game is pretty chill — meaning it's unlikely anybody will seriously injure themselves or others in the course of doing it. Dangerous challenges (some of them allegedly faked) have often been at the center of fears about what TikTok is doing to zoomers. But the Tortilla Slap Game has a pretty wholesome vibe.

Tortilla Slap Game - Daily Unique Views 1,528 1,400 1,200 1,000 800 600 400 200 0 06/02/2022 m 07/01/2022 06/02/2022 06/23/2022 08/01/2022 07/16/2022 08/09/2022 09/01/2022 09/01/2022 10/01/2022 09/24/2022 11/06/2022 10/17/2022 11/06/2022

In May 2022, the Tortilla Slap Game emerged with a specific set of rules: two people would face each other, mouths full of water, and slap each other with tortillas until one of them either broke out laughing or a tortilla struck their cheek hard enough to break their sealed lips. Couples would often do this variant of the Tortilla Slap Game.

Like many of these social games, it allows people to act quite goofy and expresses a playful kind of violence. In a sense, a person playing the Tortilla Slap Game is more so playing against themselves than against the person across from them, since the goal is to suppress your own laughter.

As the graph above shows, the slap game had a surge in virality at the beginning and then fell off.


The interactions with the Tortilla Slap Game video show the widest variation of the three types of video studied here. The @realraushaun TikTok that started the trend (seen above) was the most interacted with, receiving a views-to-likes ratio in a similar range as all the Quandale Dingle TikToks (6.64 views for each like).


The other two TikToks in the Tortilla Slap Game trend have much higher ratios at 40 views for every like with the @sophiena_official TikTok (seen above) over six million views total, and 77 views for every like with the @16penelope TikTok (seen below) — a less popular entry in the challenge form.


Likewise, the save-to-share ratio for the original @realraushaun video is higher than the other two. This plausibly indicates that people interact more with challenge-related TikToks when they are new, which makes sense considering that at a certain point, watching strangers do something fun isn't very interesting to many or they simply become oversaturated.

Tortilla Slap Game: Likes-to-Views Ratio LIKES VIEWS @sophenia_official @realrashaun @16penelope 0% 25% 50% 75% 100%
The likes-to-views ratio shows a lot of variation between different kinds of memes, with the initially viral meme having a views-to-likes ratio similar to Quandale Dingle memes and the later ones showing more variation.
Tortilla Slap Game: Comments-to-Saves-to-Shares Ratio COMMENTS SAVES @sophenia_official @realrashaun @16penelope 0% 25% 50% SHARES 75% 100%
The comments, shares, and saves also seem to show more variation, with the initially viral one, again, being different from the other two.

Seeing someone laugh feels good when you know who they are, and watching people slap each other with tortillas can get old quickly. A meme character like Quandale Dingle or a voice effect like Nobody's Gonna Know are more capable of transforming themselves and evolving, while the only thing the Tortilla Slap Game can do is just involve more and different people having big reactions.


There is no one "TikTok." We already know this since people speak of different "-Toks" like "WitchTok" or "FoodTok," and anyone actively using the app observes the way it sorts you into hyper-specific niches. TikTok's addictive algorithm pours us into a variety of different buckets, and we find community with the others swimming about in them.

Know Your Meme TikTok Is this a memne

The data here shows that TikTok memes within a given meme format share more than just characters, sounds, phrases or visuals, they also share a set of engagement patterns.

Quandale Dingle isn't only a character, but an audience practice of saving rather than sharing a meme. Nobody's Gonna Know isn't just an audio sound, but an audience practice of actively liking the TikToks you view. Tortilla Slap Game isn't just a challenge, but an audience practice of sharing rather than saving.

A TikTok meme might appear to be a song, character, dance or filter, but it is also its algorithmic bucket and the types of audience behavior that are common there. One TikTok meme will attract a different kind of attention and a different kind of response than another TikTok trend, and this is represented in the numbers we see here.

People in their thirties discussing TikTok:

To fully understand what makes a TikTok meme, its necessary to trace not just the way the choices by creators are patterned (a creator reuses a sound, recreates a dance move, repeats a catchphrase) but the way the choices of audiences are patterned (people save a meme, scroll past, like it, share it).

This all leads to a bit of a chicken and egg question, "Does a meme like Quandale Dingle become Quandale Dingle because of the kind of community it emerges from (one where more people save the meme than share it and one out of six people engage like it), or do memes like Quandale Dingle create those kinds of communities and reception patterns?"

t takes an awfully to make a Long E9g

Of course, as the meme above suggests, it takes a long chicken to make a long egg. It takes a goofy audience to make a goofy meme, and a goofy meme to make a goofy audience.

What we know is that certain memes are saved or shared in ways different from other memes. They are liked or commented on at different rates, and these patterns seem to hold roughly the same whether a meme in a genre has a million views or 10,000 views.

Certain memes also seem to circulate along anonymous online communities (for example, Quandale Dingle which is more often saved than shared) while others seem to move along IRL social networks (like the Tortilla Slap Game, which is more often shared than saved).

The algorithm doesn't just present people with content similar to what they've already liked, but continually places them in contact with a group of other users who also like that content. The algorithm helps to form social groups, using memes. If we extend the chicken and egg metaphor, TikTok is the farmer that raises and prepares a coop for the chickens, while memes are the feed that the birds munch.

And nobody knows the identity of what or who will ultimately eat those chickens fried up with special spices and put in a bucket. Maybe it's the market, maybe it's the Chinese government, or maybe it's just the people, like you and us, who know and love the content on TikTok.

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