User-generated content (UGC) is the 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 users participating in the themed UGC. 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.
Brands need to understand that TikTok is wired to serve users and elevate content based on its algorithmically meritocratic system that favors high-energy, entertaining, and engaging content, regardless of the creator. The app creates easy-to-use content creation tools and a social feed algorithm that's made to help users be discovered and discover other users' content seamlessly. With this structure, it's no surprise that a large amount of TikTok users spend their time creating their own content. This has given UGC a competitive advantage and for brands, there are at least three things to understand when it comes to leveraging on UGC to pursue social media success on TikTok:
1. Authenticity is Key to Virality
TikTok is cherished by many of its users because the platform has allowed many to truly express themselves. Unlike other social media platforms in which posts by popular figures prevail, TikTok users celebrate everyday people and their everyday activities. This creates a safe feeling to express oneself and a sense of relatability with TikTok posts. This is what is known as authenticity on TikTok, posts that feel real and relatable made by real everyday people. Brands, who do not fit that profile, must be able to compensate by inviting more people and creators to participate in their activities and vice versa.
2. Target a Community
UGC also creates a persona that users can connect to. It shows that a brand's values are being adopted by other people too, 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. Community is important especially since Generation Z, who make up for a vast number of TikTok users, is reported to have a tendency to come to social media platforms to seek a sense of community.
3. Incentivize Users to Join a UGC Campaign
Social media users get more and more aware of marketing techniques and are avoiding straightforward sales maneuvers. This does not directly mean that they cannot be marketed to, but it means that users will likely to swipe away from your campaign if it does not entertain them in some ways. UGC, often comes in the form of challenges, duets, and usable tracks or songs is a great way to directly entertain the users instead of just asking them to buy your products. This way, people are more likely to engage with your campaign as well as products.