From 2010 onwards influencer marketing began to explode. Marketers increasingly began turning to influencers to promote their products and services, often enjoying impressive results. But as brands clambered to partner with social media’s most powerful mega influencers, their costs began to spiral. Gone are the days when influencer marketing is the cheap, easy solution for brands. Could a new form of social media marketing be the answer? Enter UGC marketing — the next big thing in the world of social media.
What is UGC Marketing?
“Authenticity” became the latest buzzword in marketing. According to the most recent data from Stackla, 90% of consumers say that “authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support”. This is a 4% increase from their last survey in 2017 and demonstrates a clear trend towards more authentic advertising. So where does this leave influencer marketing?
Well, unfortunately for brands who rely heavily on this particular channel, only 10% of consumers view influencer posts as authentic. Does this mean that social media is losing its marketing magic? On the contrary, social media is still one of the best places to create and promote more “authentic” marketing content. User-generated content is bridging the gap between inauthentic, corporate-led influencer marketing and the more genuine content that consumers crave.
UGC, or user-generated content, is any content created by consumers — from reviews and ratings to images and videos — that is shared online. UGC marketing is the process of leveraging this consumer-created content to achieve a brand’s marketing objectives. This type of marketing differs from influencer marketing because the content creator doesn’t need to have a large following and they’re not paid by your brand. Typically, brands will take an honest review or fan video and promote it on their brand account.
UGC allows brands to tap into the loyalty and trust of their customers. This is because reviews, ratings, and other forms of content from real people are often perceived as more truthful than content produced by influencers who will promote any brand that pays them enough to do so. As a result, UGC content can be much better for engagement with potential customers compared to content that has been paid for by a production company.
There’s just one problem. Encouraging the creation of UGC can be hit and miss. Much effort is required on the part of the brand to get their existing customers to create marketable content. Sometimes you’ll hit a winning strategy and your socials will be flooded with fan content. But for smaller brands, it can be a struggle to get the UGC ball rolling. So, is there a faster (and easier) way to leverage UGC? The answer is yes — start working directly with UGC Creators.
“UGC creators are social media users who have established a track record of producing quality content. They are willing to create user-generated content for brands on demand. This might seem like a bit of an oxymoron, but it might help to think of them as “freelance” content creators who are sourced by brands for UGC campaigns.”
What Are UGC Creators?
UGC creators are social media users who have established a track record of producing quality content. They are willing to create user-generated content for brands on demand. This might seem like a bit of an oxymoron, but it might help to think of them as “freelance” content creators who are sourced by brands for UGC campaigns. As such, they are not influencers. Their social media following is irrelevant because it’s the content they create that matters, not their numbers. It could be an Instagram user who has built up a following for their amazing food images. Alternatively, it could be a TikTok user whose video edits have gone viral. It’s all about quality content and engagement, not follower numbers.
Okay, so how can you get UGC creators to create content for your brand? You pay them of course! The good news is that UGC creators tend to be much cheaper than influencers to partner with. So, you can get more out of your marketing budget while leveraging content that looks and feels organic. And yes, since you are paying them to create content for your brand, it’s not actually organic. However, it can still be much more effective than overly-produced influencer content. With a bit of planning and a few simple steps, UGC creators can help you to generate the results you’re looking for.
9 Steps to Help You Get Your UGC Marketing Strategy Off the Ground
Sometimes, getting started can be the hardest part. In this guide, we’ll take you through each step of the UGC marketing process from start to finish.
1. Research Your Audience
This first step is arguably the most critical to get right. You need to be sure that you’re targeting the right audience for your UGC marketing campaign. To do this, start by researching keywords and topics that are likely to be popular amongst your target demographic. This will give you an idea of the content type they’ll likely engage with and who’s likely to create it.
Your audience can typically be segmented into a few different categories based on interest, purchase intention, and subculture. For example, let’s say you’re selling a new type of running shoe. Some of your customers may be regular runners who are purchasing your shoe for utility purposes. They want something that will last them a long time and keep their feet comfortable. You may also have an audience of fashion-forward consumers who are attracted to the shoe’s aesthetics. These two groups may require two different approaches when it comes to creating UGC content.
When you start to create audience personas, you can get a better idea of what sort of content will be well-received. It’s crucial that you can build a picture of your target customer. You should understand who they are, their needs, wants, and pain points. With enough information about your target audience, you might be able to ride a current trend. Or even better — create and influence a new trend or cultural moment. The insights you gather during this stage will be the foundation on which you will build your entire campaign.
“It’s also important to consider whether their style of content meshes well with your brand identity. Do you share the same values and aesthetics? Are they someone you could see representing your brand? When choosing someone to work with, do a little background research to ensure you’re on the same page with them.”
2. Identify Suitable UGC Creators
Once you have a good idea of your target audience and what type of content they’re likely to engage with, it’s time to find the right creator for the job. Depending on your product or service, this could be anything from an amateur photographer to a professional artist.
The key here is to look for TikTok content creators who are already producing high-quality content that resonates with your target demographic. The emphasis here is on quality, not quantity.
When you’re researching potential creators, look for creators who have a good track record of consistently producing engaging content. This could mean looking at the number of views, comments, and likes they get on their content. It’s also important to consider whether their style of content meshes well with your brand identity. Do you share the same values and aesthetics? Are they someone you could see representing your brand? When choosing someone to work with, do a little background research to ensure you’re on the same page with them.
3. Partner with Your Chosen UGC Creator(s)
Now it’s time to make the magic happen. Once you have identified the right UGC creator for your campaign, you can reach out and form a partnership. When forming partnerships with content creators, you need to ensure both parties are clear about the terms of their collaboration. So discuss the creator’s fee, what type of content they will be creating, and when it should be delivered.
It’s also important to discuss what rights you will have to their content. Setting out clear expectations is critical for a successful UGC marketing campaign. It ensures that both parties are on the same page. After you have both agreed to the terms of your collaboration, you’re ready to start creating content!
4. Start Producing Quality Content
It’s important to remember that the content creator is a major part of your campaign. They are the ones responsible for producing high-quality content and building a relationship with your audience. You need to make sure you understand each other and are prepared to collaborate on the content. You might be happy to give them free rein to create whatever content they think best. Alternatively, you may have a specific brief in mind. Either way, make sure you are clear and communicate openly. If there is any miscommunication at this stage, it could lead to problems down the line and sour the relationship.
Depending on your marketing goals, you likely have a specific type of content in mind. It could be something as simple as showing off the product in a creative way. On the other hand, it could be more elaborate, for example creating an entire series of videos around your brand. But remember, the point is to create content that looks and feels “organic”.
What does this mean? Well, it means avoiding anything that feels too forced or scripted. Authenticity is key here! Flashy editing, too much product placement, and unrealistic scenarios are all warning signs that you’re veering into inauthentic territory. TikTok users can smell inauthenticity a mile away — and they’re not afraid to show their disapproval.
5. Launch Your Posts at The Right Time
Once you have created high-quality content, it’s time to get it out there! But the timing itself is actually quite important. It’s no good launching your posts when nobody is online — you’ll be talking to an empty room! Do your research to understand the best time of day and week days when your audience is most active. That way, you can ensure maximum engagement.
This is where TikTok’s analytics come in. Go to your brand profile and check the analytics. You can use this data to identify patterns and determine when your target audience is most active.
This will help you plan when to launch your posts to maximise engagement. If you’re unsure, you could test out different times and days until you find what works for your audience. Testing and learning are key to any successful campaign.
6. Boost Ads with Paid Media via TikTok Ads
TikTok offers a wide range of paid advertising options to help you amplify your message and expand your reach. TikTok’s Spark ads are a new ad format that allows you to boost content you’ve already posted on your brand account. These ads will appear in a user’s For You feed. You can use them to reach new audiences and drive engagement.
To start a Spark ads campaign, just choose an existing post you’ve already created, add some basic targeting parameters (age, gender, interests etc.), and then select your budget. Once your ad is up-and-running, you can track its performance from the ‘Ads Manager’ dashboard.
By combining organic posts and paid media, you can maximise the reach and engagement of your UGC campaign. It means more people will see your content. This can help you get more followers, build relationships, and ultimately reach your marketing goals.
If you’re unsure how to start using TikTok’s paid ad services, you can partner with a TikTok marketing agency like House of Marketers (that’s us!). You’ll get expert help setting up and managing your campaigns. A TikTok marketing agency has the expertise and tools to ensure you’re making the most of your UGC marketing efforts.
7. Analyse What Worked and What Didn’t
Testing and learning are central to any campaign — and UGC marketing is no exception. Once your content has been posted, you need to track its performance and analyse the results. This will help you identify what worked well, what didn’t work so well, and how to improve.
You can use TikTok’s analytics dashboard to measure the success of your posts and Ads. The dashboard will provide you with data such as reach, impressions, views, engagement rate and click-through-rate. With that data in hand, you can analyse what worked best and use it to inform your next campaign.
The good thing with UGC marketing is that the cost associated with creating the content is comparably lower than with traditional influencer campaigns. This means more opportunity to experiment with different content types until you find what works best for your brand.
8. Scale Your Ads Again
Once you have identified what works, it’s time to scale your ads. And this is where TikTok’s paid media capabilities come in again. With strategic scaling, you can increase your reach and target more users with tailored messages that capture their interest and drive them towards taking action (e.g. following your brand account, visiting your website etc.).
TikTok’s Ads Manager provides all the data you need to effectively optimise your campaigns. You can adjust targeting, budget, and bids to ensure you get the best possible results for your campaign while experimenting with new content. This can help you maximise reach and engagement while keeping costs down.
9. Use the Strategy and Apply it to Other Platforms
Now that you’ve cracked UGC marketing on TikTok, you can apply the same strategy to other social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. The key is to adapt the content for each platform. Every platform has its own content format, culture and “vibe”.
For example, if you want to post a UGC video on Instagram, the first thing you need to do is ensure that it meets the platform’s requirements for format and length. But that’s not all it takes to adapt content across different channels. Instagram for example, is home to heavily curated, aesthetically pleasing content, with perfect lighting, colours and angles. This makes sense, since it started as a photo sharing platform. TikTok content is more raw and unpolished, and the focus is on creativity and innovation. So, if you want to repurpose your TikTok content for Instagram, consider adjusting the look and feel to match the platform’s aesthetic.
The good news is many brands find that their most successful digital content starts as TikTok content. They then later repurpose it for other platforms. So, starting with a TikTik-first approach can be a great way to kick off your UGC marketing campaigns.
UGC Marketing – The Best Way to Leverage Quality Content
In an era of ever-evolving marketing strategies, UGC marketing is one of the most powerful and effective ways to reach new audiences. It allows brands to leverage real, quality content created by authentic content creators instead of influencers. This helps to create more genuine connections with users and build meaningful relationships over time.
TikTok’s paid media services provide brands with a wide range of options to help them amplify their messages and expand their reach. With the right combination of organic posts, ads, and data-driven optimization, brands can maximise the success of their UGC campaigns. If you want our help to get you started, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
House of Marketers (HOM) is a leading TikTok Marketing Agency. Our global agency was built by early TikTok Employees & TikTok Partners, which gives us the insider knowledge to help leading brands, like Redbull, Playtika, Badoo, and HelloFresh win on TikTok. Want us to convert more of Gen Z and Millennials with TikTok? Get in touch with our friendly team, here.