The social media landscape is quickly changing as we move away from a social-based model to a content-based model. Audiences crave content that makes them feel something, favoring content that aligns with their interests over connecting with friends and family. We’ve seen this with the rise of TikTok’s interest-based algorithm and Instagram’s move to incorporate more “recommended” accounts on a user’s feed. Gen Z users especially drive the sentiment of interest-based content as they value authentic, mission-driven brands that they can trust. When brands utilize UGC in their social media marketing, they authentically connect with users while establishing community at every stage of the funnel.
The concept of brands using UGC as a means of promotion is nothing new. Public social users have been contributing to UGC far before the name was ever coined. Today, brands use UGC or user-generated content sourced from the public, employees, or content creators as a way to show what a product looks like, how it is used, build consumer loyalty, trust, and garner social proof. This type of content-driven advertising was made famous by celebrity influencers as they displayed aspirational lifestyles while endorsing products for their followers to latch onto. With the rise of TikTok and short-form video, the age of the traditional influencer has taken a backseat to content creators as mega influencers have been replaced by niche, nano- and micro-influencers.
The nature of social advertising has changed as today’s consumers would rather hear about a product from another consumer than directly from a brand. Now, they are turning to social media to learn about new products. 84% of Gen Z users have reported purchasing a product after seeing it on social media and 37% of users trust content creators over brands when discovering new products. These statistics emphasize the need for UGC in a brand’s social media strategy to gain and maintain user trust. What’s more, ads served with UGC have a 4x higher click-through rate, receive a 28% lift in engagement, and a 29% increase in web conversions. UGC can be sourced and used in so many ways, and one of our favorites has been TikTok UGC.
TikTok is swimming with UGC. When a brand posts UGC on TikTok, it performs 22% higher than branded content. Due to its short duration, fullscreen real estate, entertaining delivery, and overall authenticity, TikTok is the perfect platform to source and share UGC.
UGC makes it possible for creators and brands to genuinely connect with users and TikTok’s full-funnel ad potential makes it the perfect pairing for a winning marketing strategy that resonates with today’s consumers.
What is User-Generated Content?
User-generated content (UGC) is creative, brand-specific social media content created by users for users that brands can display on their social profiles or use in social ad campaigns to connect with consumers in an authentic and genuine way. UGC takes the form of photos, videos, testimonials, reviews, and more. This type of content displays social proof and builds trust among consumers throughout the entire marketing funnel.
How to Build a TikTok UGC Machine
93% of marketers agree that consumers trust content created by customers over content created by brands. Moreso, brands that utilize UGC are 2.4x more likely to be viewed by consumers in comparison to brand-produced content – so if your brand isn’t utilizing UGC, you are losing the opportunity to build a trusting relationship with your audience and could be missing out on authentic content from users who already know and love your brand.
With a TikTok UGC growth machine, your ultimate goal is to build a network of reliable content creators that will create high-quality content that aligns with your brand goals and target audience. The pattern of sourcing and utilizing UGC in social ads creates a growth loop that will replenish your content bucket and create loyal brand advocates to maximize your brand awareness and reach. By encouraging UGC, brands allow consumers to enter this self-sustaining loop that inspires sharing, brand loyalty, and community while being relatively low-lift for marketers.
So how does one go about building this TikTok UGC growth machine? We’ll take you through our exact process of how we create content growth loops using TikTok UGC.
1. Building Your Social Ads Audience
Posting ad content on social media must be done strategically and methodically. Leverage top-performing ad groups from your other ad platforms and collect all historical data from your consumer data platform. This will take out the guesswork when building your TikTok audience.
First-party data will be highly valuable as we move into a cookie-free world. In Google Analytics, leverage your Cohort Analysis, Audience Insights, Demographics, Interests, and Affinity Categories to discover new audiences, their interests, and more. This analysis allows you to get into the mindset of your consumer so you can build more effective and tailored audience targeting and creative assets once you’re in TikTok Ads Manager.
Another platform to leverage is your CRM platform, such as Shopify, to pull geographic, age, gender, one-time customers, returning customers, at-risk customers, and loyal customer reports. Learnings can also be applied based to identify audience expansion opportunities based on LTV (lifetime value) and GMV (gross merchandise value) This data should line up with your previous analyses and confirm the profile of not just a unique visitor but a converting customer.
If available, tap into predictive analytics to better understand your audience and how their purchase behavior is evolving. This information will help in future decisions including content themes, assets, and messaging for you to stay ahead of the consumer and approach your social ads with the full funnel in mind.
If the above data is not available, you can utilize 3rd party data and research to inform your audience creation. To make your research more granular, find your top ten customers by name or email on your CRM or mailing list platform and perform field research. Where do they currently gather? Search for them on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. If you’re able, see what type of content they engage with, what brands they follow, and what kinds of content they post. Look for patterns across these consumer accounts and use that data to tailor your marketing strategy.
By pulling findings from these various channels, you can begin to build your ideal TikTok consumer based on data.
2. Understanding Your TikTok Consumer
Now it’s time to meet them where they are at.
You’ve built your ideal customer – now it’s time to put yourself in their shoes. To be a successful growth marketer, it is important to think from the consumer’s perspective to better understand their wants and needs.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
What is their occupation?
What are their hobbies?
Where do they shop?
How do they get their news?
Which social platforms do they spend the most time on?
What do they value?
What kind of content do they interact with?
What keeps them up at night?
What problem do they have that they are aware of or unaware of?
The more you can understand your consumer, the easier it will be to create content that speaks to them and converts. But good UGC doesn’t just happen on its own. Though good social advertising may appear like an organic post, there is much thought that goes into the production process so it can be optimized for the proper channel, audience, and campaign goals.
It is estimated that the average American encounters between 6,000 and 10,000 ads per day – most of the time without even realizing it. Consumers have become utterly numb to advertisements due to the sheer amount, but also the expertly veiled ad content that appears native to any given platform. Successful TikTok UGC has the power to be posted organically or in an ad campaign and has the potential to convert no matter what your campaign goals are.
3. Finding UGC Creators
UGC can come from brand enthusiasts, employees, influencers, or our preferred method of partnering with content creators. UGC can be sourced across various social media platforms through social listening or users that use a branded tag or hashtag. This content is great for brand awareness, but if choosing to use UGC in any paid ads, you may want to consider hiring a content creator to create UGC for you.
The NoGood TikTok Studio has an extensive roster of content creators across diverse verticals that can be paired with your brand or campaign needs. But before reaching out to anyone, it is important to solidify your ad goals before expecting UGC that is aligned with your brand and campaign goals.
Here are some questions to consider while in the planning stage:
What is the objective? (Awareness, Consideration, Conversion)
What is the ideal content format? (Filming requirements)
What is the core value prop or messaging you want to communicate? (We want audiences to purchase this product, etc.)
When it’s time to find creators, go back to your prior research where you identified your audience’s key influences. What types of creators (if any) were they following? Which accounts were they interacting with? Identify and reach out to 10-15 rising stars or micro-influencers who align with your brand category or brand adjacent category.
Take Equinox, for example. Equinox falls under the health and wellness vertical. Their audience is metropolitan, they have expendable income, are well-traveled, and care about their mental and physical wellbeing. A creator for Equinox wouldn’t necessarily have to be a buff gym rat but could be an upscale traveler, a fancy food blogger, or a Goop-like influencer. These accounts also have followers that would fall under the same category as Equinox.
But it’s okay to start small and not go for the $50K per post creators. When starting to build up your creator partnerships, look for creators with less than 100K followers who are more likely to have higher engagement rates (and lower contractual rates). These creators tend to convert higher than some of the larger accounts. Big followings do not equal high engagement or ROAS – even TikTok Creator Marketplace can tell you that.
There are, however, several influencer marketing platforms that can source creators for you, including our own TikTok Studio. These agencies source from their own roster of partner creators based on your criteria through algorithmic matching including niche, platform, and budget. Though some just provide sourcing, others offer end-to-end campaign management from finding creators and negotiating contracts to delivering assets and monitoring ad performance. If you’re looking for a creative TikTok partner, reach out to our TikTok team today.
For a more personal approach, it never hurts to reach out to a creator directly by sliding into their DMs to build a personal connection. The more connected a creator feels to your brand and its mission, the more authentic and aligned their UGC will be. 62% of users say they would trust a content creator more than an A-list celebrity. When relationships are created and maintained, creators can turn into true brand ambassadors that users learn to trust.
Because relationship building is such an important aspect of this strategy, it is important not to burn any bridges. Treat your creators well and they will work to produce the best content they can. Establish a relationship with the creators that show passion and dedication for the idea, follow your guidelines, and provide authentic, thought-through content. Though building relationships one at a time can be a time-consuming process, it allows your brand and the creator to produce more meaningful content that will resonate with your target audience.
4. Provide a Content Brief for TikTok UGC Creators
Before letting your chosen creator run wild, it’s important to develop a creative brief and general guidelines to ensure the final product is worth your money.
Key questions to ask yourself when forming a content brief include:
What is your objective?
Who is your audience?
What is the ideal content format and where will it be posted?
What is the core value prop or messaging you want to communicate?
Will the creator need the product?
Do they need to shoot in a certain way?
Share your goals with your creator and challenge them to come up with a few ideas that have a single message and objective. Don’t overcomplicate things for them – there should only be one objective. Be clear and provide guidelines and examples of what a successful content collab is for your brand.
When it comes to creators, they are masters of their content domain and community. They already have their unique voice, hooks, persona, and creative style – this is what makes them successful creators. While you should clearly define success, timelines, and examples, allow them creative freedom. They have gotten this far for a reason and their loyal followers trust their unique identity and the brands they stand behind.
5. Launch, Track, Measure, & Analyze Organic Content
Once you receive your UGC, it’s time to launch your assets. You’ll want to keep track of your TikTok UGC by maintaining records of the content produced and tracking your mix of evergreen brand awareness content against viral TikTok trends to find the ratio that works best for your audience all while maintaining your consistent brand identity and voice.
Not only is it in good practice to record post analytics, but to also have a saved copy of your content. When possible, download your video without the TikTok watermark to keep a record and have the ability to repurpose it for other platforms. Repurpose.io is a great site for downloading posted content and sharing it across other social media platforms.
For tracking analytics, use a clearly labeled spreadsheet with links, dates, sounds, and hashtags for your records. Following posting, you’ll want to keep track of the analytics including views, reach, interactions, watch-time, and follows. Though tedious at first, these stats can later give you a bird’s eye view of what is working (or not working) to better inform your future campaigns and content requests.
Now, remember those downloaded videos? It’s time to repurpose them for your omnichannel strategy. Begin with Facebook and Instagram Reels before posting to YouTube Shorts and Snapchat Spotlight. If there is continued success, consider sharing to Twitter and Pinterest organically and as ad content.
Analyze and track the video’s performance and identify what trends and styles are working per platform. Are users gravitating toward trending skits on Pinterest or just on TikTok? Which platform has the highest CTR for your top-performing video? Look for common characteristics from platform to platform, but also consider your unique audiences per platform. By experimenting with different types of content on different platforms, you can better tailor your content for those particular audiences.
6. Sparking Your Organic TikTok UGC
Until you know what type of content will resonate with your audience, we like to test our TikTok content organically first before deciding which posts to Spark or run as dark ads. Oftentimes, top-performing organic videos will be most successful in paid campaigns as you already know they are resonating with your audience.
Currently, there are two types of ads you can run when working with UGC from creators. These are Spark Ads and Custom Identity and can be used for any of the advertising objectives and campaign types.
Spark Ads are similar to boosting an Instagram post but way better! This native-ad format allows you to leverage your organic posts to generate even more results at any stage of the funnel. The content, pulled from the organic post, includes all the features of the original post with the addition of a CTA leading to your chosen landing page or a TikTok Instant Page (which serves as a lead generation form). The Spark Ad is pushed out to your pre-determined Ad Group audience or a new custom audience while it still runs organically. A Sparked Ad not only increases content performance but it assists in putting your content in front of your target audience with conversion results in mind.
When choosing to Spark a post, you have the option to use your linked account or a custom identity. The beauty of Sparking includes the ability to run an ad from another authorized account – this is especially pertinent when working with creators and UGC.
For example, JVN Hair’s TikTok account can Spark their own organic posts or Spark organic content from authorized accounts including Founder Jonathan Van Ness’s TikTok account or creators and influencers who produced UGC. The Spark Ad can appear to come from the creator’s account or your brand account allowing the content to appear in front of even more audiences increasing reach, awareness, and conversions.
With these options in custom identities, brands can experiment with what works best for their UGC. Do audiences trust content that appears from content creator accounts or only brand-owned channels? Play around with not only the different types of content sparked but campaign types and identities to determine the best combination for your target audience.
7. Analyze Paid Assets
Now that you have a mix of organic and paid UGC circulating, it’s time to assess what’s working. Remember that spreadsheet you created earlier? Create a separate tab with paid analytics including CR, CTR, CPC, CPA, CPR, and more. Take note of which asset was sparked and what the starting point was prior to it being sparked. This will help identify if the Spark was worth it and help inform future content decisions.
Keep a continuous watch on your direct traffic and followers. Not all campaign goals will be to increase followers but it can be a direct result of a Sparked ad. When analyzing a specific ad, compare it to how it performed against previous assets. What was the production quality? What was the identity of the Spark Ad? What was the intended result? By testing different types of UGC produced by creators and in-house, determine which assets your audience engaged with more and double down in that area working with the creator to produce more content or find similar creators to diversify your feed.
Finally, take a look at that CPA column – cost per action. This is the average amount of money you spent on a particular conversion (follow, click-thru, lead generation, etc.). The data received from TikTok Ads Manager only tells half the story. The CPA provided is just a result of the ad CPA, but additional determination must be made. Calculate your influencer’s fees and cost for goods provided in addition to platform fees. Based on these results, you can ask yourself: what is the total ROI, and could this be a worthwhile long-term process that can be duplicated and scaled? If the answer is yes, you’re well on your way to creating a TikTok UGC machine. If not, it’s time to look back at the drawing board and determine where you overspent or where you can make additional optimizations to improve your ROI.
8. Enter the TikTok UGC Flywheel
You’ve looked at your ROAS and ROI and determined that this is a sustainable ad platform – congratulations, you’ve now entered the UGC flywheel.
This growth loop not only assists in increasing conversions but builds community along the way. By encouraging UGC through hashtags, giveaway challenges, or consumers just loving your product, brands can tap into their social community to use UGC, or work with brand-aligned creators to produce UGC that will benefit both their audience and your own.
Identify the long-term win-win for your creators. Is it equity, larger-scale partnerships, bigger returns, or free products or services? What does the creator get out of your partnership and more so, what does their following get out of it? Are you providing a special discount code for the creator’s followers? Are you providing a larger platform for the creator to gain exposure? Determine what’s in it for your brand AND the creator and their followers.
With a TikTok UGC growth machine, your ultimate goal is to build a network of reliable content creators that will create high-quality content that aligns with your brand goals and target audience. Content creators hold much responsibility as a representative of your brand. Be sure they are reliable, consistent, and able to deliver quality content that resonates with your audience, increases ROAS, and yields big results!
TikTok UGC Brand Examples
UGC has always been out there. Consumers would post pictures on their social media pages of them using a product, or wearing an item, and if they were nice enough to tag your brand, you have free UGC available to you (best practice is asking to use their media). This was sustainable when UGC was just static photos or quick Stories on Instagram, but since the rise in short-form video, content creators, and of course TikTok, the nature of UGC has changed.
The skill set that goes into shooting short-form video is much more nuanced than snapping a shot with your phone. Many brands in turn felt the impact of limited bandwidth to create the videos necessary to keep up the cadence of TikTok which lead them to hire content creators to fill the gaps.
Though it seems like every content creator is looking to hit it big as a UGC creator, not every creator or piece of UGC will align with your TikTok strategy. Keep in mind your content pillars, broader social media goals, and if the UGC is used in a paid campaign, your objective.
The following brands are accounts that have been killing it with their use of UGC. Not only are the videos native to the TikTok style but they align with their brand persona and achieve their overall awareness and conversion goals in a relatable and authentic way.
- Jones Road Beauty
JVN Hair | @jvnhair
JVN Hair, founded by Queer Eye celeb, Jonathan Van Ness, has amassed a large TikTok following through their how-to videos, before and afters, and fun and relatable skits all featuring their suite of products. The JVN Hair account has a pulse on pop culture and editing that remains native to the TikTok platform.
On their profile feed, one can see their diverse clientele using JVN products — each in their own individual way. Their bio reads “Come as you are” which perfectly encapsulates the individuals represented in their content. The brand doesn’t discriminate against age, gender, ethnicity, or sexuality and makes its platform a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone.
GoPro | @gopro
Who better to show off your product in action than your customers? GoPro’s handheld video cameras are built for adventure and users have used them to film their outdoor activities from every corner of the world.
Before the launch of TikTok, GoPro packed their YouTube page with UGC to not only show their products in use but the quality of their product. This approach led them to build a YouTube channel that’s over 10 million subscribers strong. Once TikTok gained momentum, GoPro jumped on the platform quickly with the same approach as their YouTube channel — using UGC from their consumers.
Submitting videos has become such a phenomenon that GoPro now has a submission portal on their website allowing users to upload their content and, if they are chosen, will receive rewards in cash, gear, and of course, global exposure. This submission platform is a brand-led way to generate and encourage UGC without having to go out and source creators.
Chubbies | @chubbiesshorts
Chubbies feel anything but meticulously curated and overproduced. As “the official outfitters of Friday at 5 pm” the casual menswear brand brings the personality of their colorful shorts to their UGC on TikTok. Chubbies partners with tons of well-known and lesser-known content creators that each produce content in their own style diversifying the Chubbies feed and showing a lifestyle filled with fun and style.
NoGood | @nogood.io
As a growth marketing agency, our data scientists specialize in skills ranging from SEO, SEM, CRO, social advertising, data visualization, a full creative design studio, and newest to the lot – an in-house TikTok Studio providing content creator sourcing, editing, advertising, and data reporting.
What makes NoGood’s TikTok stand out from the competition is that we don’t just talk the talk, our experts walk the walk. Our TikTok page is filled with educational content, breakdowns of brand strategies, best content creation practices, corporate humor, office antics, and more. By building our own TikTok community of over 100K strong, we use our page not only to educate but provide examples of what we can do for your brand.
Our content creator internship program also allows creators to learn how to work with brands in many different verticals, execute creative briefs, and prepare them for future partnerships as content creators.
Jones Road Beauty | @jonesroadbeauty
Beauty brand Jones Road Beauty, founded by the makeup artist Bobbi Brown, aims to create clean makeup products for every skin type and tone. Competing in an oversaturated beauty market already on TikTok, Jones Road Beauty differentiated its page by posting videos of women over 50 sharing their insights and using their products.
Something unique Jones Road Beauty does is partner with their founder’s account @justbobbibrown often. The two channels play off of each other growing both platforms simultaneously. Though Jones Road Beauty puts roughly $4,500 per day into their TikTok campaigns, they wouldn’t be anywhere without their organic UGC content that later gets Sparked via TikTok Ads Manager. Its aggressive paid and organic strategy is paying off so much that 34% of its yearly revenue comes from TikTok.
SKIMS | @skims
The success of Kim’s shapewear brand SKIMS is serious business as one of the Kardashian-Jenner empire’s most successful brands. SKIMS found early success not only due to Kim’s celebrity reach, but their aggressive marketing strategies to get the product in front of the most eyes possible. Their influencer strategy was prevalent early on and once the brand launched on TikTok, they continued leaning into content creators for TikTok UGC.
Much of SKIMS TikTok content is UGC from creators and consumers of all backgrounds and sizes, showing the products’ inclusivity made for “everybody.” One thing SKIMS always makes sure to do is tag the creator in the bio giving the creator exposure and encouraging followers to post their own content in hopes of being reposted.
Supergoop! | @supergoop
Supergoop! is making SPF cool again by disrupting a sleepy category through its high-quality sun protection products and fun collaborations and partnerships. UGC and social proof are incredibly important when trying to educate a consumer on an age-old product, but by partnering with the right consumers, Supergoop has been able to break through the noise and become a household name. Founder, Holly Thaggard, refers to influencers and creators as her “megaphone” being sure to get to know them on a personal level and ensure they are a good fit for the brand’s mission.
TikTok was a natural fit for Supergoop! As creators reiterate the importance of SPF and the value proposition of the brand while users can see demonstrations of the product and learn more about which is best for their skin care needs. Through authentic, educational, and fun video content, Supergoop! has earned strong brand recognition and developed a loyal community on TikTok.
Walmart | @walmart
Just like you never know what you’re going to get at Walmart, you never know what you’re going to get on Walmart’s TikTok. Walmart boasts over 1.2 million followers for a combined “Likes” total of 6.9 million likes. Their TikTok page is filled with user reviews of some of their favorite Walmart products, new product drop announcements, fun skits, and plenty of lip syncs.
Not only does Walmart work with micro to celebrity influencers for original content, but they also encourage social sharing through their branded hashtag #Gotitatwalmart. Not only is Walmart successful in creating a community of users but they are encouraging a culture of social proof and sharing which they in turn can repost to their own page.
Public.com | @public
Public.com’s main goal is to make stock market investing more accessible through its dynamic social feeds, educational resources, and the ability to not break the bank by purchasing a fraction of a share. Backed by sports superstars and Hollywood celebrities, this 2017-founded start-up plays it cool with its user-friendly interface and approachability no matter the size of your pocketbook.
When it comes to advertising on TikTok in a “restricted vertical” (ie sexual wellness, legal cannabis, or cryptocurrency) there are many rules and regulations to the type of content you publish causing Public.com to have to get creative due to their product being in one of these restricted verticals. On their branded organic profile, users will find high-quality educational content that breaks down complex concepts in a simple way. But where Public.com thrives on TikTok is in their UGC. Public.com has content creators posting to their individual channels about their experience with the app and leaving it to the creator to deliver the content in their own unique way. By using a diverse group of creators, Public.com is able to expand its reach to become a household name and reach users in ways it may not be able to from its own branded account.
Adobe | @adobe
Adobe Creative Cloud is a suite of design apps used across the globe. TikTok, being the creative platform it is, is the perfect place to display actual design examples from its millions of users and showcase their software in action.
In order to swift through the millions of videos of content under the Adobe umbrella, Adobe taps into hashtags to do the categorizing for them. #Adobe alone has 1.2 billion views but users get product specific which helps when searching for tutorials and product FAQs such as #adobeillustrator, #adobeMAX, #adobepremiere, and #adobephotoshop.
By encouraging users to utilize these hashtags, Adobe is creating an army of UGC creators and built-in ambassadors that share their work and enter the growth loop for social proof, product feedback and reviews, design inspiration, and community.
TikTok UGC is for everyone!
Based on this list alone, UGC on TikTok isn’t just for DTC brands but can be utilized in every vertical including SaaS and B2B accounts. Finding creators to work with can come from your own employee’s content, outsourced on platforms such as TikTok Creator Marketplace, discovered organically through hashtags and social listening, or by partnering with the NoGood TikTok Studio.
By using UGC on TikTok, brands remain native to the platform, expand their TOF reach and brand recognition, provide social proof, and build user trust and loyalty. Whether hiring content creators to make specific UGC for ad campaigns or discovering UGC via social listening, users feel more connected discovering a product through a friendly face versus an overproduced, more traditional ad.
No UGC is bad UGC as it reflects user sentiment, builds brand awareness, and represents advocacy and loyalty. Whether or not UGC is shared on your branded account, it helps build community and encourages social interaction and sharing.