By using TikTok UGC in your organic and paid TikTok marketing strategy, ads appear natively and authentically to your targeted audience. We’ll take you through the exact steps we use when building a TikTok UGC flywheel for growth.
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. We have become utterly numb to advertisements coming at us through visual and audio cues whether that’s while sitting on a subway train, listening to a podcast, or scrolling on TikTok. Some of these ads may seem obvious, while others are so natively produced, that they blend right into your usual feed – that is the power of TikTok UGC.
Following two tumultuous years of pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, human connection has become increasingly important. Audiences crave authenticity and genuineness, looking for content that makes them feel something and that they can connect to. These sentiments are especially important to Gen Z as they value mission-driven brands they can trust.
User-Generated Content (UGC) is brand-related content created and shared by consumers, employees, or brand loyalists. UGC can and should be used at every stage of the funnel and by sharing and engaging with UGC, brands show social proof and build trust amongst their brand community.
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.
Here’s the exact process we follow to help brands build TikTok UGC Machines.
Research and Due Diligence
Posting ad content on social media must be done strategically and methodically. Leverage top-performing audiences from other platforms and historical data from your consumer data platform. Apply learnings from prior experimentation to identify audience expansion opportunities based on LTV and GMV (gross merchandise value).
As we move into a cookie-free world, take advantage of your first-party data in Google Analytics. Leverage GA’s 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 mind of your consumer so you can build more effective & tailored audience targeting and creatives. Another platform to leverage is your CRM, such as Shopify, to pull geographic, age, gender, one-time customers, returning customers, at-risk customers, and loyal customer reports. 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 & how their purchase behavior is evolving. Leverage these analyses & learnings to optimize content themes, assets, and messaging to find your unique audience and allocate your ad spend to the highest attribution channels.
If the above data is not available to you based on the size of your business, you can utilize 3rd party data & research to your advantage. To make your research more granular, find your top 10 customers by name or email on your CRM or mailing list platform and perform field research. Where do they gather? Search for them on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Discord, 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 inform your targeting decisions down the road.
By pulling findings from these various channels, you can begin to build your ideal customer based on this research.
Now it’s time to meet them where they are at.
Understanding Your Consumer
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 content 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 funnel goals.
Finding UGC Creators
UGC can come from brand enthusiasts, employees, influencers, or our preferred method of partnering with content creators. 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 space. 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 a young female upscale traveler, an NYC 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 influencers. 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 more than some of the larger accounts. Big followings do not equal high engagement or ROAS.
There are, however, several influencer marketing platforms that can source creators for you. 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 optimizations.
For a more personal approach, we prefer sliding into a creator’s DMs to really build that personal connection. The more connected a creator feels to your brand and its mission, the more authentic and aligned their UGC will be. Users want brands they can connect to, not just whoever is peddling the most famous celebrity to push their product. 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.
Content Brief for TikTok UGC
Before letting your chosen creator run wild, it’s important to develop a creative brief and general guidelines to share with your creators.
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 creators and challenge them to come up with a few ideas with a single message and objective. Don’t overcomplicate things for them – there should only be one single 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, star persona, and creative style – this is what makes them successful creators. While you should clearly define success, timelines, and examples, allow them creative freedom and don’t get too much in their way. They have gotten this far for a reason and their loyal followers trust their unique identity and the brands they stand behind.
Launch, Track, Measure, & Analyze Organic Content
Upon launching your assets, you’ll want to keep track of your TikTok content. By maintaining records of the content produced, you can track your mix of evergreen brand awareness content against viral TikTok trends and 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. 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, 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 saved videos? It’s time to repurpose them for other channels. Begin with Facebook/Instagram before posting to YouTube and Snapchat. If there is a 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 looking for 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. Through experimenting with different types of content on different platforms, you can better tailor your content for those particular audiences.
Sparking TikTok UGC
At NoGood, 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.
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 Spark 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 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.
Enter the 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 or create 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, 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!