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Riding the Wave: User-Generated Content and TikTok's Impact on Authentic Marketing

Wunderman Thompson's social content creator lends insights into the evolving landscape where storytelling and technology converge, marking a paradigm shift in the art of marketing

By Jenna Berkowitz

User-generated content (UGC) has emerged as a powerhouse for marketers due to its authentic and relatable nature. It’s a modern-day form of word-of-mouth as unlike traditional advertising, it’s created by consumers themselves, showcasing real experiences and opinions which enhance customer confidence. It’s telling that 86 per cent of people say they would trust what their friend says rather than marketers and are therefore turning towards a more authentic way of marketing.

With TikTok having one billion monthly users on the app, it’s hard to be exempt from #TikTokMadeMeDoIt. Authenticity builds trust among the audience, with people more likely to believe and connect with content generated by their peers rather than brand-produced material. UGC is also easier to watch than other forms of content as it is insanely engaging; The videos are short and to the point and often it does not look like an ad at all. It also fosters community engagement, encouraging users to actively participate and share their stories. So what’s in it for marketers? UGC gives them a way to humanise their brand, tapping into the emotional resonance that comes with genuine experiences.

Measuring UGC is simple

Marketers can measure their success through a range of metrics, including engagement rates, click-through rates, and conversions directly attributed to UGC. TikTok also has a precise built-in analytical tracker for marketers to see how well their content has performed.

And the future of UGC campaigns looks promising; The authenticity and peer-to-peer influence embedded within this type of content align with the evolving preferences of online consumers. The future is likely to see even more integration of UGC into e-commerce platforms, leveraging emerging technologies like AI to enhance the user experience. While the fundamentals of retail marketing remain crucial - understanding the target audience, creating compelling narratives, and delivering value - these are the channels and methods that are evolving. UGC becomes a dynamic extension of these basics, emphasising the importance of genuine connections and user participation in shaping the retail landscape.

Beyond ad blocker walls

In the age of information overload, consumers have developed internal ad blockers, finely tuned to tune out anything that feels like traditional advertising, particularly in the realm of social media. The constant barrage of promotional content has made individuals more discerning, and they instinctively scroll past or mentally filter out anything that resembles a conventional ad. Once consumers know what the brand is, they feel no further need to engage with the ad and are much more likely to skip. It is important, therefore, for brands to revert from selling their products and focus instead on engaging with their consumers on a human level. It’s no surprise then that marketers face the challenge of breaking through this internal defence mechanism by creating content that seamlessly integrates with the user's experience, providing genuine value, entertainment, or relevance. Brands that manage to navigate this landscape successfully can capture attention in a world where consumers are increasingly adept at filtering out the noise of traditional advertising.

Empowering Creators, Enhancing Experiences

TikTok has proactively adapted and expanded its platform to cater to the evolving needs of users, allowing creators and brands to shop products on a dedicated storefront that’s specifically curated to increase the user’s experience. By integrating e-commerce functionalities directly into the platform, TikTok is capitalising on social commerce, providing users with a seamless shopping experience within the app. Creators now have the ability to leverage this feature to promote exclusive collaborations, limited-edition launches, or highlight best-selling products, proving that TikTok recognises the pivotal role of creators in shaping user engagement and consumer choices. The platform has also taken steps to empower and reward creators through various initiatives, such as the TikTok Creator Fund and live gifts. This not only acknowledges the influence of content creators but also aligns with the growing consumer preference for authentic and relatable content.

So UGC can be summed up simply as the power of storytelling, something that can provide consumers with captivating visual aids and easy access to other people’s stories at the touch of a button. Consumers value authenticity and engagement over embellished brand messages, something that UCG was designed to give.

As TikTok and UCG continue to gain traction, marketers should heed the importance of fostering genuine connections, leveraging the power of community and utilising advanced technologies to create personalised and memorable interactions with consumers.

And if you haven’t #SeenItOnTiKTok yet, then it’s only a matter of time before you’re buying a silicone suction cup to mount your phone. #TikTokMadeMeDoIt.

Jenna Berkowitz is a social content creator at Wunderman Thompson


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