Social media is vast, yet some videos, audios, and challenges go viral in an instant. Some trends last the test of time and others vanish in a week. Trends move so quickly, it’s nearly impossible to predict, but while they’re in the spotlight we can examine how they got there, why we love them, and why we hate them. This month take a dive into the never-fading trend that is ASMR. How did it come to be? And why are millions mesmerized by it?
You’ve heard of ASMR, right?
Tapping. Popping. Crinkling. Chewing. A wide range of interesting noises accompanied by whispering in front of a mic is ASMR. You’ve probably come across ASMR videos while scrolling on your social media feed – whether you were aware of it or not.
#ASMR, often coupled with #satisfying or #relaxing, can’t be escaped on social media. Maybe you’ve never clicked to watch a 40-minute ASMR YouTube video, but there’s no doubt that bite-sized ASMR videos pop up every once in a while on your For You Pages. And whether you’ve watched with interest or scrolled away feeling slightly uncomfortable, ASMR is everywhere!
But do you know why these odd yet soothing videos have had such a strong grip on people’s attention since before 2010? We were wondering the same thing and think we’ve found the answer.
ASMR is a compilation of various gentle sounds made in front of a high-powered mic that triggers people – in a good way! It’s an evergreen trend that’s been captivating people for over a decade. For people who are especially sensitive to it, it goes beyond a trend – it’s somewhat of a cultural phenomenon.
In 2009, ASMR videos made their debut on YouTube. In 2010, the videos took off on a greater level and gained significant popularity. That year, the term ASMR was coined by Jennifer Allen, who explained experiencing therapeutic “brain tingles” from watching the videos. Allen wanted to learn more about the sensation and connect with others who had also experienced the same feelings, leading her to create a Facebook group dedicated to the phenomenon. When Allen discovered that many people were also feeling the calming “brain tingles,” ASMR came to be!
ASMR PSYCH 101
What exactly are these “brain tingles” Allen and others experience?
The sensation: These tingles are described to start at the scalp and work their way down the body. Many people describe the sensations as relaxing, soothing, and even euphoric.
The cause: The tingles are caused by an orchestrated mixture of soft and triggering sounds. Often including whispering, tapping, hand movement sounds, and much more.
The effects: Some people simply enjoy the sounds; they are simultaneously intrigued and relaxed. Others are sensitive to them on a deeper level and experience positive impacts on their mental health from the videos. These people view ASMR for therapeutic reasons, often experiencing reduced anxiety, depression, stress, and insomnia symptoms. According to Neuroscience News, studies have shown that ASMR can decrease heart rates.
And yes, there are also people who dislike the sounds and can’t scroll past them quicker!
“I love watching haircare, skincare, beauty, and fruit slicing ASMR content! After a long day, watching a few of these videos helps me wind down and get into a relaxed mindset due to the calming sounds and triggers.”
-Ash Balmaceda, Paid Social
ASMR BOOM! – but softly of course
Since ASMR’s appearance on the social media scene, mass communities of ASMR lovers have formed, and a sea of ASMR artists have emerged. Since the 2010s, many forms of ASMR have popped up on almost every social media platform. And it has attracted the attention of more than those who listen to ASMR therapeutically.
YouTube is the original home of ASMR; it has attracted the most ASMRtists and ASMR enthusiasts throughout the years. According to ASMR University, there are over 500,000 ASMR-dedicated channels and over 25 million videos. But who were the pioneers of ASMR? ASMR University identifies hundreds of ASMRtists that were between 2009 and 2012. But the very first was WhisperingLife, who is credited with creating the first ASMR video on YouTube in 2009!
The videos can last hours on YouTube and go beyond simply tapping and whispering into the mic. Many ASMRtists create somewhat interactive experiences for their viewers with videos simulating a spa day, getting a haircut, studying in a library, or even going in for a doctor’s appointment.
Today ASMR has made its way beyond the mothership that is YouTube. The ASMR hashtag on Instagram has over 13 million posts and, similar to YouTube, has hundreds of thousands of ASMR-dedicated accounts and influencers.
As it has progressed, ASMR creators have made unique trending ASMR videos with interesting visuals, including slicing sand and criss-cross-cutting soap!
“I LOVE the videos with kinetic sand being sliced up or scooped, the floral foam being squished, and the soap criss-crosses because they combine audio AND visual satisfaction! Watching a knife slice neatly through the formation, followed by the crunch at the end just feels ‘right.’ It isn’t for everyone, but for those that enjoy it it’s very relaxing.”
-Maggie Reznikoff, VP of Account Management
On TikTok, ASMRtists have found a new home, #asmr has garnered over 469 billion views, and that number is growing daily. Additionally, #asmrsounds has over 60 billion views, and other ASMR niche-related hashtags have billions of views.
Many ASMRtists have migrated their content as mini-snippets over to TikTok. They find this makes their content more accessible to wider audiences, allows them to be more discoverable, and ultimately gain even more fans.
ASMRtists connect with viewers on TikTok and use the platform to drive traffic to their YouTube accounts which have more in-depth and extended videos. Many also utilize TikTok live to bring therapeutic sessions to their audiences and cater to them in a more personalized way.
TikTok has also allowed ASMR to cross TikTok niches very easily! On TikTok, you find ASMR weaved into:
- Cooking and foodtok
- Makeup videos
- Organization videos
ASMR has even merged with mukbangs. Traditionally, mukbang creators will talk as they enjoy a large meal, but in the ASMR version, audiences listen to chewing and slurping sounds instead of speaking.
Popular ASMRtists today:
- Gibi ASMR on YouTube
- Gentle Whispering ASMR on YouTube
- SAS-ASMR on YouTube
- Emilymariko on TikTok
- Saraiasmr on TikTok
- skincareryan on TikTok
- Whisperingwillowasmr on TikTok
ASMR is an internet sensation, whether viewers enjoy it for therapy-related reasons or simply feel fascinated by the #satisfying sounds. But is there a place for brands in ASMR?
Brands Meet ASMR
Brands, too, have a place in ASMR, and it’s right in the whispers! Many ASMRtists have partnered with brands and effortlessly interlaced advertisements with their videos in the latest creator marketing strategy.
Some creators whisper product details, and others use products to make triggering sounds during their sessions. ASMR has transcended so many niches that any brand can likely find a way to intertwine itself with ASMR in some form.
“In my opinion, best in class brands for ASMR has been IKEA. They have a ton [of ASMR campaigns], from multiple years, so they’ve been evolving with ASMR.”
-Alexandra Mathieu, Head of Creative Strategy
Don’t forget the holidays are around the corner. What better way to satisfy people than by marrying seasonal and ASMR content?
Plus, aren’t the most entertaining and successful ads the ones that effortlessly fit into a niche? Get inspired by brands who are tapping into ASMR:
USCellular accessed ASMR on foodtok during their 2022 campaign:
@foodwithfabio #ad Change is good, but not when it comes to your phone plan. Thankfully @uscellular has made the Price Protected commitment to not increase plans through the end of 2023! #seafood #carbonara #asmr ♬ original sound – Chef FabioCarratelli
Oxiclean tapped into ASMR-style satisfying cleaning videos:
View this post on Instagram
And Conagra also accessed food ASMR:
View this post on Instagram
The ASMR phenomenon has lasted the test of time and has been a top trend for over a decade. Views across YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are constantly growing and have endless space for creativity. Have you tuned into the trend? Better yet, have you tapped into it as a brand?
Make sure you are staying on trend in every part of your campaign and up to date with all the latest platform trends with our Stay on Trend Blog.
Open Influence’s creative team are experts in staying on top of trends and can help you create campaigns that your audience will love. Reach out to us today to begin working on a fun and captivating campaign of your own!