It doesn’t take a seasoned marketer to know that user-generated content is huge in content marketing right now. In this article, I’ll be going through the User Generated Content (UGC) basics, followed by an interview with Lusil, a talented and experienced Creative Content Designer from Lightricks, a company that develops video and image editing mobile apps.
As of 2019, Lightricks’ apps have been downloaded over 350 million times. In other words, they know what they’re doing, and we’re here to learn from them!
What’s So Captivating About TikTok?
By now, you have all heard of TikTok – the wildly popular short-form video platform that has taken the world by storm. The Chinese-owned app has been downloaded more than 2 billion times, thanks to the app’s ability to empower people to create, share and discover highly engaging video content.
TikTok is a platform that allows users to be themselves; honest and unpolished. It encourages creativity and authenticity and brings joy to millions of people across the globe.
Lusil believes TikTok holds a huge advantage over other platforms;
“Compared to TikTok, the content that you get exposed to while browsing Instagram & Facebook is very calculated. Creators with a small list of followers don’t get the mass exposure that they can get on TikTok.
Combine TikTok’s smart algorithm with their intuitive user interface, and you get a winning platform. Now don’t get me wrong, there are many UI problems within the app, but the main winning objective is that you’re not getting any distractions from the content, since the only main interactions are like, comment and share. So simple, yet so captivating.“
How Does TikTok’s Algorithm Work?
TikTok’s intelligent content discovery process allows users to find fresh videos based on their viewing preferences and habits, thanks to an algorithm that uses an interest-based graph rather than a social graph like Instagram. This means that brands that tap into audience interests can easily get discovered without having to amass large numbers of followers.
What Opportunity Does TikTok Bring to the Table for Marketers?
Lusil emphasizes what really matters,
“as marketing designers, all we want is to create something that can catch the viewer’s eye.”
Brands need to understand that TikTok is wired to serve users and elevate content, which is based on its algorithm system that favors high-energy, entertaining, and engaging content, regardless of the creator.
Let’s dive into how businesses and consumer brands build their brands on this worldwide phenomenon called TikTok.
What’s UGC and Why Does It Work?
User-Generated Content (UGC) is a term for content that is created by people or users, instead of brands or businesses, and typically implies an element of viral spreading by waves of participants or viewers. It’s equivalent to word-of-mouth marketing in digital marketing, where users are encouraged to share their brand experiences with the public.
UGC is at the heart of TikTok’s viral phenomenon, as the social app boasts its ability to democratize content creation and crown world-class creators out of everyday people.
User-Generated Content is a great marketing tool because people trust real people. They don’t trust high-paid celebrities or branded content but would gladly accept the recommendation of other people just like them. UGC campaigns are authentic and represent the voice of people who have used and benefited from a brand’s products.
Tesla made a whole point of having zero advertising budget, which brings their UGC a lot of attention:
“UGC is usually imitated by brands and companies. There is a different approach when it comes to the platform you decide to advertise on. For a TV or Youtube-oriented ad, brands would usually try to impress the audience by showing famous celebrities, high-quality footage, thought-out scripts, or anything else that may indicate that the production was professional.
When imitating UGC or native content, we believe in making content that blends inside the platform. For example, we make tutorials on how to use our different apps, hacks, tips, and so on – in a way that is acceptable inside the platform. The ad won’t “feel” like another annoying ad you are exposed to on every social platform.”
Why Do UGC Ads Perform Better Than Traditional Ads?
It’s a known fact that TikTok UGC content outperforms other ad formats in driving attention on mobile devices. Therefore, brands should study authentic storytelling principles from popular User-Generated TikTok videos and develop new ways to engage with creators and other active users.
Not only do most of the consumers value UGC higher than regular brand posts or promotions, but it’s also cheaper to produce (or rather “use”) and super convenient to share with your followers and fans.
As Adweek disclosed, more than 50% of millennials base their decision to buy a product on recommendations from their family and friends. This is where UGC can shine since it is exactly that: a personal recommendation.
Organic traffic is one of the best ways to get new clients. It assures viewers of your brand’s credibility, increasing the likelihood that they’ll prioritize you when making a purchase.
Modern-day consumers require social proof before buying from a brand. They wouldn’t just choose a brand because it runs creative ad campaigns. They want to see people like them interacting with your product and having fun before making a purchase.
Since it’s easier to influence the average consumer with organic content created by other users, you might be missing out on an effective marketing strategy if you’re not working with UGC.
How to Generate Your Own UGC?
User-Generated Content is the future for connecting brands to their target audiences. In-feed Native Video allows for better, original, and interactive ads, which are designed to trigger more in-depth interactions from the users.
The first rule you should follow is to make sure your images and videos are beautifully produced and done. The second key rule – make quality content. Remember, it brings your audience joy to share what they think is interesting with friends and in their community. Lusil’s advice is to
“focus on whether a piece of content works or not—in other words, whether it raises brand awareness or results in leads.”
Using fun tracks is a great way to directly entertain the users instead of just asking them to buy your products.
Avoid using popular songs that don’t offer free commercial purpose rights. A great alternative is to use TikTok’s music library, or else you can get sued.
How Do Marketers Encourage Their Audience to Create Native UGC?
1. Tell Your Audience What Content You Want
The best part about using UGC content is the opportunity to inspire more UGC content (and therefore free advertising!) When coming up with your social media campaign, consider how to get your audience more involved.
You could be asking them a question, creating a social competition, or using a photo or video as a callout for them to respond. Whatever it is, it creates a cycle of more content to utilize, saving you the time and expense of professional shoots.
A great example is the latest Instagram campaign by Clean My Mac.
UGC often comes in the form of challenges or duets. This way, people are more likely to engage with your campaign as well as your products.
2. Reach Out to a TikTok Influencer
Another way to generate UGC is to invest in TikTok influencer marketing ads. This type of ad might not be as cheap as the previous one, but it enables brands to partner with TikTok creators to create and share sponsored content with their audience.
Marketers who don’t believe in the power of UGC will try to restrict creators with all sorts of ‘rules’, which might easily result in content that looks and sounds the same. Give influencers and users enough space to create their own content!
Keep in mind that organic User-Generated Content usually does a better job of convincing new users.
By partnering with high-profile TikTok creators—each one with more than one million fans—Gymshark was able to reach 19.8 million fans and an 11.11% engagement rate. The hashtag #gymshark66 has earned more than 122 million views.
Target the Community by Creating a Relatable Profile or User
Some brands and businesses create a persona that users can connect to. A brand’s values can be adopted by other people, thus creating a community. Building a community means brands can connect with users while at the same time building a loyal consumer base. This is perhaps the best way of marketing without coming off as too commercial. Brands can actively be engaged with the platform by commenting on and re-posting brand-positive videos.
Users and brands can quickly build a community of like-minded people.
Spotify’s TikTok is a great example of high-quality engaging content makers.
Big Room or House? An impossible decision 🤯 @alok♬ It Dont Matter by Alok Sofi Tukker and INNA - Spotify
Have a Great Product or Service
As Seth Godin mentioned in his timeless classic, the ‘Purple Cow’: “when something’s not going to work, recognize the sunk costs and move on. At the point that you know your product’s future isn’t going to be remarkable, it’s time to change route immediately. Why? Because unless people are going to be fascinated by it, they’re not going to talk about it, so investing in this “dying product” isn’t worthwhile.”
When you have a great product, people would gladly interact with it or show it off to their friends and community. A great example of a UGC video that went viral is @everydayalex’s call to Heinz’ customer service. Alex had a question about the recipe on the back of the bottle, that looked to him a little off.
The entertaining exchange between Alex and Heinz’ customer service generated almost 4 million views, and 3 more entertaining videos of him cooking their recipes, including a ketchup cake (what?).
“Lightricks has a great product. Their apps have an incredibly simple tool for creating social media content with. When asked about their process, Lusil tells us that “when creating a new ad, I usually try to follow viral trends, so when someone comes across the ad, they see something familiar.
That’s a great way to boost the ad and show off the app. Another noteworthy way to engage the viewer is by making a tutorial. Either way, I always keep it focused and simple. The message should be clear. Have fun, use your creativity. Try combining a tutorial with a viral sound or trend. Maximize your parameters for guaranteed success!”
“But there are some common mistakes designers fall for when it comes to imitating UGC; “As graphic designers, we love to design text and experience with different fonts, but that’s not what works on TikTok. If you’re trying to imitate native content, use the tools the app gives you. TikTok users (mostly gen-z) skip the professionally created videos as it’s obvious to them that they are “advertising content”. Surprisingly, the visuals don’t have to be ‘pretty’!”
If you believe in your product, and you think it can perform better, the next Seth Godin quote might come in handy: “Instead of trying to use your technology and expertise to make a better product for your users’ standard behavior, experiment with inviting the users to change their behavior to make the product work dramatically better.”
How to Successfully Imitate UGC?
A key attraction of TikTok is its simplicity. Setting up a business profile and posting organic content is where most brands get started, and it’s really easy to do. And better still, engagement rates are super high on TikTok, so posting simple but high-quality videos provides a great opportunity to get discovered and grow your followers quickly – especially when tapping into the latest platform trends.
The most unpopular posts are those which make users feel that advertisers are intruding on the good time they’re having on the platform. Now, more than ever, when ads are easily skippable, brands must understand the community they’re talking to and come up with effective communication strategies.
While @sweetnniceicecream puts a ‘one-man show’ that attracts millions of users by following TikTok trends:
What makes a successful UGC campaign? UGC works in similar ways to a traditional ad campaign. The most important thing is having a focused message. If you have five or six messages you want to send to the audience, it will ultimately result in a 15-minute-long TV commercial. You should focus on one message or theme and create effective content around it. UGC works in the same way. If you give influencers or users a definitive brief, they’d be able to send a clearer message to their followers and fans.
Posts that feel real and relatable are made by real and ordinary people. Brands, who do not fit that profile, must be able to compensate by inviting more people and creators to participate in their activities.
Don’t fear social media!
״Here’s what’s really exciting: we are only scratching the surface of what UGC content will do for the marketing industry in the coming years״, Lusil sums up.
Don’t fear social media. Work WITH it. After all, people + technology = always better.
And if that doesn’t work, you can always try showing off your cat!
Like Milo, the cat who made 10.5 million people watch him choose Evian as his favorite water brand.