TikTok's Secret UGC Program Pays Creators Thousands
Creators are making UGC ads for brands as part of TikTok's "Creative Challenge" beta
[Screenshot via TikTok’s Creative Challenge]
⏰ 1-SECOND SUMMARY
TikTok’s running an invite-only UGC program that pairs creators and brands
VidCon Anaheim released its 2023 schedule of events
Creators are driving 75% of US Gen Z shoppers' online purchases
“Community initiatives are not a passive income stream” -TikTokers and app founders @TazandAlessia
📲 TikTok Updates:
TikTok’s running a secret UGC (user-generated content) program that pays creators thousands of dollars every month to create ads for brands.
According to one TikToker who's part of the Creative Challenge beta program, creators are making up to $34,000 a month by producing UGC for brands like Uber Eats, Zynga, Alibaba and TikTok. In fact, "creators are buying houses with the amount of money they're making from UGC," the TikToker told me.
I reached out to TikTok to confirm details of the program but haven’t heard back yet.
So, how does the Creative Challenge program work? Creators in the program can review and respond to brand briefs hosted within a private section of TikTok. They upload videos that meet the brief guidelines directly within TikTok's Creative Challenge section, rather than to their own channels.
Creators can allegedly participate in up to 30 UGC ads a week, and payment is based on the ad spend for up to six months. Creators also receive bonuses from TikTok for hitting performance milestones. Monthly earnings range from $22K to $34K and bonuses ranged from $200 to $6K, according to screenshots I saw.
The program sounds like a more exclusive — and potentially lucrative — version of TikTok’s Creator Marketplace. Or a variation of TikTok’s Creativity Program Beta, which was announced in February. That invite-only program was meant to address some of the criticism about the low payouts of TikTok’s Creator Fund.
According to my source, the current program has just over 400 creators participating in the challenges and redeeming their rewards in a Discord server.
At the moment, there's virtually no information about the Creative Challenge program online beyond this skeptical YouTube Short and an advertiser terms of service page governing participation in the program.
The program’s payment structure does require a leap of faith since there’s no guaranteed payment upfront. Payment terms are described as "determined according to a revenue share/earnings schedule on each creative challenge."
But if TikTok can scale the program, playing agency matchmaker between eligible brands and talented creators, it could create a sustainable revenue model for creators. It also puts an interesting emphasis on creators looking to monetize their skills versus access to their audience.
“I like that this is performance based and I don’t have to post on my own page,” shared the TikToker. “I don’t even have to put myself in the ad, which is nice.”
Related: About 50% of consumers say UGC videos help them to discover new products or services to buy, and around 40% say they are more likely to purchase a product after they watch a creator review it.
📲 YouTube Updates:
YouTube just announced Product Drops, a feature that allows creators to set the date and time when they want to release a new product or offer versus having to release in Shopify first before announcing during a live drop.
The company has also reiterated its support of bringing shopping features to Shorts during an earnings call this week.
Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai revealed the majority of new channel subscribers are coming from Shorts posts — and channels uploading to Shorts daily grew over 80%.
📲 Instagram Updates:
Reels could be in trouble. That’s my speculation based on comments made by CFO Susan Li during Meta's earnings call this week.
Reels is cannibalizing revenue from Stories and feed-posts because of “structural differences” in the content type. “We don’t have line of sight to getting Reels to monetization parity with feed or Stories per time because of those structural differences,” said Li.
If you’ve listened to Adam Mosseri lately, you know he’s dialed back the emphasis on video. At one point, it seemed to be directly linked to the Kardashian's "bring back the old Instagram" complaints but it's possible the move was actually related to the company's difficulties in monetizing Reels.
And if Reels doesn’t meet revenue goals this year, it’s hard to see how they wouldn’t shuffle priorities — which is important to note if you’ve pivoted your content focus to short-form video.
Instagram’s working on a text-based social network called Barcelona. It’s not in the app store yet (trust me, I checked) but some invites may have gone out already.
I made it to NPR’s Planet Money, I can die happy
What Creators Need At Different Stages Of Growth: Listen to Kindly Gifted and me!
💫 BEYOND SOCIAL
TikTok’s @TazandAlessia, (TANDA for short) are a couple from Melbourne, Australia, who grew their account — and became advertiser favorites — during the pandemic. In 2022, they launched the TeamTANDA App.
I’m always interested in exploring where creators are connecting with their communities beyond social, so I couldn’t wait to talk to Taz Zammit about why they decided on an app for their LGBTQIA+ community, how they built an app (?!) and their tips for other creators considering something similar.
Lia Haberman: What’s your primary social platform?
Taz Zammit: Our primary social platform is TikTok sitting at around 610,000 followers. We — myself and my partner — started our TikTok account in the 2020 lockdowns.
We had separate TikTok accounts. But the content we wanted to post together didn't fit on those accounts. For example, my girlfriend had a makeup account and I had a deejaying account.
So all of the cute relationship type of content wouldn't have worked on those, which is why we built our one first.
LH: Where else are you looking to connect and communicate with your community?
TZ: We started creating on all of the social media platforms, but then realized the conversations were quite limited and one way, us being the main talking host of it all. And we wanted to hear about our community, our audience, and they can only type so much in a chat or a comment.
So we moved to Facebook Groups. That worked well for a little bit. We livestream still to this day almost every second night, which is great for that two-way conversation.
But we ended up creating the Team TANDA app, which is a space for our community to really get to know each other on a deeper level.
LH: How does the app help you connect?
TZ: It's essentially being able to have better conversations or more equal conversations with your community.
We started this in lockdown. So, seeing those followers, 1,000 people, 10,000, 100,000… it didn't really make sense to us what was happening. So to finally get to talk to people and hear about their jobs, relationships, what they like, it's been so fulfilling.
LH: What's your what's your tech stack? Where do you even begin with an app?
TZ: Facebook Groups had everything we needed, but we wanted a space where we could… I hate the word “own” our audience because we don't own anyone in our community but a way that we could communicate with our community no matter what.
Lot of people were getting blocked or banned on a lot of platforms, and we did not want to be part of that. We wanted a space where we have as much control over getting that message out to our team.
I can't say the host platform that we’re with because my team likes to keep that confidential. But it's not hard to find if you do a bit of Googling for drag and drop apps. It has everything built in, so everything from push notifications to content management and there's a little bit of automation too.
LH: Are you monetizing the app?
TZ: When we started the app, we had around 400,000 followers at the time and we thought, ‘OK, if we get 0.1% of our TikTok followers to buy a subscription, that's 400 people buying the subscription. That's nearly $8,000 a month. We could earn amazing money doing this.’
It definitely did not go that way.
We overestimated it a lot, and it's probably due to just our lack of marketing knowledge. But I'm quite thankful we didn't get 400 people signing up because it is difficult running events and making sure everyone feels heard and seen. So we changed our strategy and we're focused on making it special for the people who are there, not focusing on building it out.
LH: What's the percentage breakdown between time spent on social and the app?
TZ: Me and my partner have different roles behind the scenes. My role is very much focused on the app, she does more of the social media stuff. So far this year alone, I've spent 26% of my time working on socials. That's all platforms. And then 8% of my time I've spent working on the app, which is fascinating because social media is my job. That’s where we get our main income from. But my partner does such a great job of handling that, that I can really focus on building the app out.
LH: What's your best tip for other creators considering launching a community-focused app?
TZ: Community initiatives are not a passive income stream. Community is not passive. It requires you to be present and engaged. Yes, you can always hire people to build out aspects of that, you can hire an event coordinator and community managers and things like that. But if you're starting out like how we are, you need to realize that this isn't like a short-term, get-rich gig. This is a long-term play and it's a trust-building play.
So I would just encourage people to really consider: Are you doing this to get to know your community or are you doing this to make money? If it's to make money, you can probably do it faster in a different way.
Keep your community as the beating heart of what you do and look for other ways to make money.
*This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. A slightly longer version of this interview — with extra details on the tools Taz uses — is on LinkedIn.
📖 ON YOUR RADAR…
VidCon released its schedule for the June 21-24 conference in Anaheim -Vidcon
YouTube Is Sending Dude Perfect, Other Top Creators to ‘Take Over’ 2023 NFL Draft -Variety
5 Creator Economy Trends That Matter Right Now -American Influencer Council
TikTok analyzed 300+ top TikTok Creator Marketplace videos to determine four things that effective creator campaigns have in common -TikTok
Platforms, Not Creators, Reap Financial Rewards of Creator Economy -Pymnts
Creators drive 75% of US Gen Z shoppers' online purchases -Fiber2Fashion
Your Favorite Celebrity Street Style Photo Is Probably An #Ad -Fashionista
Grimes invites AI artists to use her voice, promising 50 percent royalty split -Engadget
Martha Stewart scolded Instagram for its spam problem (can we talk about the sex bots watching Stories?!) -Martha Stewart
A breakdown of Sofia Richie’s wedding content strategy -@Abxola TikTok
Note: I have a primer course for marketers on working with influencers and I’m going to keep doing consultation calls for people who sign up. I’ve enjoyed talking to people about their challenges so much, I'm temporarily extending that benefit for anyone who signs up in the next month.