Leveraging User-Generated Content in TikTok Ads

User-generated content (UGC) has been present as a marketing model basically since forever. Even in traditional (offline) marketing, brands have always been trying to incorporate user-generated content like testimonials, reviews and recommendations from real users. We tend to trust people more than we trust brands, especially when it comes to purchasing products or services we’ve never encountered before. 

In the era of digital marketing, and with the expansion of social networks, UGC has become much simpler to implement. People create this sort of content from their social media accounts, becoming brand ambassadors. But, when it comes to the potential of user-generated content, not all social networks are the same. Some are more suitable for this, and bear a much richer potential for driving conversions via UGC – and the absolutely best one is TikTok. 

In this article, we set out to discover how businesses can leverage user-generated content on TikTok to build trust and authenticity in their TikTok advertising campaigns. 

tiktok UGC

What is TikTok user-generated content? 

By definition, user-generated content is any content that is created by real users, as opposed to brand-created content like ads, for instance. Any user-to-user content can be user-generated content, but in marketing, when we talk about UGC, we talk about the content that also carries the brand message, promotes it and spreads awareness about it. 

TikTok is a creator-oriented platform. It’s all about what we users post, much less what the brands post. Sure, brands can create high-performing content, and there are also TikTok ads, but the messages that come from peers, from actual users, are much more powerful. 

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What makes TikTok user-generated content special? 

Over time, TikTok has grown to become a community. While other networks have influencers with status of stars, TikTok has micro-, even nano-influencers. These are the creators that excel in their chosen niche, and creators that their followers trust. The relationship between creators and their audience (the audience who are, in turn, also creators) is a dynamic and trusting one. As such, it is ideal for brands to create authentic TikTok content and a strong relationship with their target audience. 

TikTok user-generated content represents a remarkable opportunity for brands to boost their growth. The process is extremely simple: a user discovers a product on TikTok, tries it out and creates a post about it. The brand then reposts the content which new users discover, purchase and post about. This cycle is incredibly simple, incredibly efficient and – incredibly cheap. 

In addition to a very short turnaround time and generally low production costs (TikTok favors unpolished, raw and authentic content), user-generated content on the platform also means faster community validation. TikTok users tend to trust peer recommendations more than brands, so if a creator delivers your brand message in their authentic content, it also means you gain social proof faster. 

Essential steps for leveraging TikTok user-generated content

Using TikTok UGC to grow your brand effectively implies keeping in mind several important things and steps that need to be completed. 

  1. Know your audience

To be able to use UGC to grow your brand, whether it’s an organic post or an ad campaign, you first need to understand the person you’re directing it to, and to understand them well. 

You probably already know who your potential customers are – hopefully, you have created a buyer persona that you use in your marketing strategies. You need to apply what you know about that persona to your TikTok audience, and to target them, using the rich set of options available in the TikTok Ads Manager platform. 

You need to find out what sort of content your ideal customer enjoys on TikTok and how he or she engages with it. 

  1. Find the right creator

After identifying your customers and their needs, the next step is to team up with creators who fit the bill. At this point, your strategy should already be informed around the objective (which can be awareness, consideration, conversion…) and the main value proposition of the message. 

To find the right creator, first look into your audience and learn about the creators they enjoy the most, and the ways they interact with them. You will discover a number of creators that can potentially be used for your user-generated content. If their profile meets your strategy and your objectives, it’s time to reach out to them and work out a deal. 

At this point, the TikTok Creator Marketplace will be of tremendous help. It’s a platform that brands can use to discover the right creators and the creators can use it to find work. 

In general, it’s recommended to start with “smaller” influencers. Oftentimes, a creator who is influential within your narrow niche will produce a better result than a “big time” influencer that charges a lot and can hardly squeeze you in their schedule. In addition to being cheaper, smaller influencers have a higher engagement rate and actually convert better. 

The creators you team up with need to have a good sense for storytelling and have to be able to understand and embrace not just your message and tone, but also your mission and vision. 

  1. Be clear when negotiating a contract

Some brands choose to work with agencies and other third-party partners to source influencers. Some rely solely on TikTok Creator Marketplace, and some favor a more personal approach and contact the creators directly. Whatever route you choose, you need to have a solid contract that will protect and benefit both you and the creator you choose. 

When it comes to negotiating contracts, you may want to use your in-house legal team, but you should also consider working with a TikTok marketing agency that provides end-to-end services in this department. 

The contract needs to be clear and precise, of course, but it also needs to be fair to the creator. This is important because, once you find the perfect creators for your user-generated content, you will probably want to work with them again, or repeatedly, so it’s important that they’re happy with the conditions, too. 

  1. Provide detailed, thorough briefs

Creating a set of creative guidelines and a detailed brief for each UGC ad is vital. It helps keep everyone happy and it also helps save time and money. 

A good brief should include basic do’s and don’ts, in terms of the message itself, the tone, the language, the visuals, etc. It needs to specify the objective and the target audience, the preferred format, and the main value proposition. 

Furthermore, if the creator is going to be needing your product for the ad, you need to make sure they have it, along with other technical and practical requirements. 

Once you send the brief over, you may want to ask the creator to pitch a few ideas for you to choose from. 

  1. Decide on the type of ad 

TikTok user-generated content can be used in organic posts or in paid ads. Essentially, when a creator posts the content you’ve agreed upon, you can repost it as a TikTok Spark Ad. You can do this even for UGC posts that creators post on their own, without an agreement with you. However, in this case, you have to ask their permission to repost the content. A Spark Ad, being essentially a repost, includes everything the original organic post contains, plus a CTA to your landing page or your TikTok Instant page. The ad can be reposted from the brand’s official account, or from a Custom Identity – another, official and authorized account. 

UGC can also be used in a paid ad campaign, in which case, the content is usually launched from the brand’s official account and managed through TikTok Ad Manager.

  1. Measure and analyze the results

Once your user-generated content ad launches, it’s a good idea to both save a copy of it for future reference or repurposing, and to record its data and analytics. The metrics should include reach, views, watch time and any follows you might get after the ad is displayed. You can use these insights to see how the TikTok UGC fares against the other ads you’re posting, as well as against your organic posts that do not involve UGC, if you have any. 

You can also use the material for repurposing on other platforms. In this case, use the analytics to learn which platforms clicked better with your UGC, on which platforms the content can be 100% repurposed and on which it will require some adjustments. 

Note that, when the campaign is over and you’re measuring the results, you can’t just look at CPA alone. That is the cost of the ad through the platform, but it needs some additional numbers to show you the actual spend. For instance, it needs to contain the creator fee, as well as costs for goods provided. Now, once you get a more accurate number, look into the total ROI which will determine whether this course of action was a good choice for you. 

Find the right growth partner

Unless you have a team of growth experts specializing in TikTok marketing, creating successful UGC campaigns can be tricky and time-consuming. TikTok is a highly specific platform, with particular dynamics and a rich ecosystem of creators and influencers. Building trust and establishing authority in any industry is a time-consuming process in which even a small mishap can take you back several steps. 
Unless you are one hundred percent confident you know TikTok like the back of your hand, it’s best to reach out to professionals who can help you chart your growth based on where you’re at now and where you want to get, using the rich array of tools and features the platform offers to advertisers. Get in touch with us today and let’s find the best way to harness the power of user-generated content in your favor!

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