It’s no secret that too much social media takes a huge psychological toll. And for social media professionals who are on it practically 24/7, this toll becomes exponential. That’s why it’s so important to take care of your mental health.
In this blog, we’ll break down the different ways overwork and overexposure to social media can affect your brain. We’ll also look at steps you can follow to protect your mental health, despite the many stressors your role may have.
I’m Nawal Mustafa, a cognitive neuroscientist, and a psychological health educator. My academic training focuses on behavior, cognition, and neuroscience. Currently, I’m a PhD candidate in clinical neuropsychology at the University of Windsor in Canada. Neuropsychology is the study of how human behavior, emotion, and cognition affects brain function and the nervous system, and vice versa.
I share my knowledge and expertise on brain health and psychology through @TheBrainCoach on Instagram. Since launching in August 2019, the account now has over 1 million engaged followers and is one of the largest mental health platforms on the social network.
It’s also provided me with personal experience in the multi-faceted role of a social media manager and digital content creator—which is why I’m personally invested in maintaining optimal psychological health while navigating the complex role of a social media manager and feel especially passionate about helping others in the same position.
Like everything we interact with, our brain reacts chemically to social media. But what does that actually look like?
Social media platforms are designed to be addictive and reinforce our biological need to connect with others and feel validated. This connection is optimized on social, and activates the brain’s reward system through the release of dopamine, a ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter linked to pleasure and motivation.
This can be a good thing—to an extent. There’s preliminary evidence of social’s positive effects on mental health, based on a study by Harvard scientists. It found that people who used social as part of their everyday routine and engaged with content that others shared saw a positive correlation with social well-being, positive mental health, and self-rated health.
This means that mindful use of social media in our daily routine may promote certain health benefits.
It’s when people felt an emotional connection to social, such as feeling disconnected outside of it or excessively checking their feeds due to FOMO, that health-related outcomes were negatively correlated.
So while thoughtful use of social can be beneficial, many find it difficult to use social mindfully. And this struggle likely exacerbates for social media managers.
A wealth of research points to various mental health and cognitive concerns due to overexposure to social media. There are higher levels of psychological stress and symptoms of depression associated with exposure to stressful news, like COVID-19. Getting an influx of negative news can also lead to compassion fatigue and secondary traumatic stress.
Overexposure to social also results in poor sleep quality. Yet, a good night’s sleep is critical for brain health. It’s when the brain consolidates information into memory and cleans harmful toxins produced throughout the day. It also gives your sympathetic nervous system (which controls your fight or flight response) a chance to relax, allowing you to feel more rested and recharged.
So imagine what happens when your brain doesn’t get the chance to do its thing. Poor sleep quality leads to increased stress and fatigue, mood dysregulation, and decreased ability to focus.
There’s more. Other research points to the dependence on social media to feel happy due to how it activates the brain’s reward system. This is considered a form of addiction—people seeking out online social feedback, even if it leads to self-sabotaging behaviors like neglecting sleep or daily priorities.
Since social media managers create content with the goal of receiving higher engagement and positive feedback, this problem may be even more prevalent within the industry.
Understanding the potential psychological effects of social media on our health and well-being is still a new area of research, especially how this information applies to the work of social media managers who are on the platforms much longer than the average person. The demands of the role are much more nuanced than ever before, so it’s important to become aware of the harmful effects of social media overexposure and how it impacts day-to-day performance.
There are always early signs of trouble. Look out for these things to avoid going down that road.
One of the best ways to determine whether it’s time to re-evaluate your time on social is by recognizing the warning signs of burnout, an acute state of physical or mental exhaustion that involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.
Burnout is most often caused by problems at work, but it can also appear in other areas of life, like in romantic relationships, parenting, or a combination of these.
Nine key warning signs of burnout include:
- Fatigue and difficulty in staying focused and completing tasks
- Not finding your job fun or fulfilling anymore
- A sense of inadequacy when it comes to your ability to perform your job
- Having a hard time believing that you bring value to your work
- Feeling like you’re taking on more than you can realistically handle
- Cynicism and struggling with regulating your emotions
- Withdrawing from people or pushing them away
- Neglecting your needs often and making little time for yourself
- Losing your sense of self and often evaluating yourself critically
There are various reasons why burnout and exhaustion occur. A helpful way to identify the root cause of your burnout is understanding why you might be feeling this way.
Researchers have categorized the way people respond to chronic work-related stress into three main types: frenetic, underchallenged and worn-out.
- Frenetic burnout occurs when people channel too much energy into their work—often as a result of anxiety—that the rewards of the role start to feel lacking compared to their efforts. These people disregard work/life balance, invest maximum energy into their role, and work to the point of exhaustion.
- Underchallenged burnout occurs when a person feels trapped in a monotonous and unstimulating work environment, performing a role which does not provide job satisfaction. This contributes to an overall lowering of mood and satisfaction.
- Worn-out burnout occurs when people feel despair and lose heart in their job due to an unhealthy work environment that is consistently a source of intense stress, or which yields negligible rewards.
Shoutout to all the social media managers posting content or checking in on their channels over the weekend https://t.co/cDbIS3uH80
— Hootsuite 🦉 (@hootsuite) September 25, 2022
There’s good news too, though. There are plenty of ways to prevent and counteract burnout.
If you’re experiencing signs of burnout or constant fatigue, it’s crucial to step away and recharge. Enduring and pushing through these feelings is counterproductive, and can lead to severe mental and physical health conditions.
Here are five ways to recharge when feeling burnt out or exhausted:
- Schedule frequent breaks in your calendar during work hours. For example, take a 10 minute break after every 50 minutes of focused work. Do some stretches or a guided meditation. The brain has a limited capacity for sustained attention, so pushing it past its limits will likely result in struggling to focus and stay efficient.
- Shake up your work routine. It could be as simple as taking a new route to work or going somewhere new for lunch. This jolts the brain out of autopilot, helps it refresh, and brings pockets of joy into your day.
- Keep a victory log in your phone or journal. A list of your wins can remind you of how far you’ve come and what you’re capable of, especially when you’re struggling to recognize your accomplishments or develop feelings of gratitude. It helps prevent cynicism and high self-criticism that often result from burnout
- Focus on deep connections. Socializing with people who lift you up and make you feel energized can be highly beneficial for mental health. It’s also a way to wind down and take a step back from work-related obligations. But remember, it matters who you socialize with, so say no to social interactions that pull from your energy.
- Get off the grid. Once you finish work, try to mindfully spend time away from the grid. Turn off notifications, get off your laptop, and resist the urge to respond to emails. Try to completely disengage and take time to focus on you and things that make you happy.
Managing social media—especially if you’re also a solopreneur wearing many hats—is a complex job. This often makes prioritizing tasks a challenge and finding work-life balance difficult.
To proactively take care of your mental health, I encourage social media managers to spend 30 minutes every morning analyzing tasks and prioritizing those that have the biggest impact on your business.
Another recommendation is to avoid multitasking. It’s the quickest way to overwhelm yourself and increase stress levels. It also reduces productivity and makes you more prone to mistakes. One study even found that trying to complete two tasks at once decreases productivity by 20%. This number increases to 80% with five tasks. Not good.
To avoid multitasking, make a checklist instead. Checklists are a way to create clarity regarding the tasks ahead and allow your brain to stay focused on one task at a time before moving on to the next one.
Most importantly, it’s imperative that social media managers learn to set boundaries around work hours. Boundaries are a form of self-love that allow us to protect our psychological health, honor our needs, and set realistic expectations. When you put yourself last and don’t set boundaries, you have the highest risk of experiencing burnout.
Listen to your body. Pay attention to your needs. If you already have enough on your plate, decline requests that aren’t urgent. If you’re feeling constantly overwhelmed, set a boundary around the time you spend on social media every day. For example, set an alarm at 5:30 p.m. to unplug from work and turn off all email and social media notifications.
Hootsuite’s Tip: Worried you’ll miss important messages? Set up an OOO message on Slack, an email auto-reply, and, for your actual social channels, a simple chatbot to let people know when you’ll be online and when they should expect a response.
Talking to managers about job expectations can be intimidating but it’s worth initiating if you’re feeling overwhelmed. These difficult conversations not only help you manage your current workload, but also increase your teammates’ awareness around work-related expectations.
To initiate a difficult conversation, try the DESC model of assertive communication by Sharon and Gordon Bowers, adapted from their book Asserting Yourself.
- Describe the situation. Specifically, describe the situation giving you cause for concern.
- Example: “I received your email regarding the project you’d like me to complete by this afternoon.”
- Express your feelings or thoughts. Explain how the situation makes you feel. Use ‘I’ statements and take ownership of your feelings.
- Example: “I’m feeling a little overwhelmed because I think it might be difficult for me to complete all tasks required from me today.”
- Specify what you want. Clearly describe your suggestion or resolution
- Example: “I was wondering if you could help me prioritize my project list? I hope this is not too much trouble.”
- Consequences. Indicate the positive pay-off of this outcome to your boss or colleague
- Example: “This will help me target tasks of high importance first and work on other tasks later on.”
Protecting your mental health can be a challenge, especially when a lot is required from you. But it doesn’t have to be a losing battle—even if it sometimes feels that way.
Today’s self-care needs may not be the same as yesterday’s. Remember that as you check in with yourself.
— Headspace (@Headspace) September 26, 2022
By knowing the risks you face working in social media, identifying factors that aggravate these risks, and having our handy list of “peace out” methods in your back pocket, you’re equipped to handle whatever social throws your way.
And for a quick solution to reducing overexposure to social media? Plan and schedule your posts on Hootsuite, so you keep firing the social content engine while spending less time on it. Get started with a 30-day free trial.
How This Underwear Brand Won with an Anti-Black-Friday Social Campaign
Ah, Black Friday.
It’s no surprise that the official kick-off day for the holiday shopping season is responsible for a massive annual surge in consumer spending, reaching $8.9 billion in the United States alone in 2021. But while this is a yearly slam-dunk for big box retailers, Black Friday can bring more challenges than benefits for small businesses.
Slashing prices to make sales cuts straight into their bottom line — and with limited marketing budgets and resources, competing with big brands takes courage, insight, and creativity. That’s why the small businesses that stand out during the holiday season are the ones that connect with the unique wants and needs of their customers, get bold with their marketing strategies, and create thumb-stopping content that’s sure to get people talking.
Last year, UK-based sustainable underwear brand and Hootsuite customer Pantee won Black Friday with a campaign that broke convention and raised awareness of unsustainable impulse buying. We interviewed Pantee’s founders, sisters Amanda and Katie McCourt, to learn how they did it, what the results were, and what they’ve learned for future campaigns.
What is Pantee?
Pantee is an underwear brand making a difference: their products are made using “deadstock” fabrics, or unsold inventory that would otherwise end up in landfills. Designed by women, for women and the planet, Pantee’s products are created with comfort and style in mind, while helping prevent unused garments from going to waste.
@pantee_uk We launched a business in lockdown! Here’s how we did it ✨🩲 #smallbusinesslaunch #howtostartabusiness #smallbusinesscheck #whatididduringlockdown ♬ Bubble – Official Sound Studio
For Pantee, sustainability isn’t a buzzword or trend to jump on; the brand was founded with this purpose at its core. The idea came to life in a thrift store in 2019, when Amanda was browsing second-hand clothing stores in London and was blown away by the number of brand-new t-shirts lining the shelves, tags still on them.
“It was crazy to me how many people had given away clothes before even wearing them once,” says Amanda. “It got me thinking: If this is how many discarded clothes we can see, how much is there that we can’t see? Once I started researching, I knew that we could make a difference. It’s very difficult to get buying right in the fashion industry with trends and shopping cycles changing so frequently, and as a result, many companies overproduce. I became fixated on the idea of what we could do with deadstock clothing.”
The short answer to Amanda’s question on how much waste we can’t see: a lot. The fashion industry produces an estimated 92 million tonnes of textile waste each year, and approximately 30% of clothes made are never even sold.
With a bold passion to make a difference for our planet—and after realizing that the soft cotton t-shirt fabric everyone loves would lend itself well to underwear and wireless bras—Amanda and Katie named the business Pantee (an abridged version of “pants made from deadstock tees”) and got to work bringing the concept to life.
@pantee_uk Upcycling never felt so good ♻️ link in bio to learn more about how we make sustainable underwear! #sustainablefashion #smallbusinesslove #fyp #comfort #recycledfashion ♬ luxurious – milo
Since initially launching their Kickstarter in November 2020 (where they raised £11,000) and Shopify site in February 2021, Pantee has grown into a successful sustainable startup—upcycling more than 1,500 kgs of deadstock fabric in its first 1.5 years alone. Pantee also plants one tree for every order placed (resulting in over 1,500 trees planted!) and is a proud member of 1% For the Planet.
Flipping the script with a ‘Blackout Friday’ campaign
Leading up to the Black Friday pandemonium in 2021, Amanda and Katie had one thing on their minds: overconsumption. Already an issue in the fashion industry during the regular season, Black Friday was sure to encourage consumers to make unnecessary purchases—many of which would go unused and end up back on shelves or, worse, in landfills.
So, while many small businesses grappled with whether or not to run sales and promotions, Pantee asked a different question: how could they create a successful campaign while staying true to their mission?
- The solution: Reclaim Black Friday by rebranding it “Blackout Friday,” an initiative encouraging consumers to rethink their purchases and avoid impulse buying.
- The message: Stop and think before you buy. Is it something you love? Is it something you need? If so, go ahead— buy and enjoy your new purchase. But if you weren’t already going to make that purchase, consider going without.
“Black Friday is the biggest impulse buying day of the year, and people get easily sucked into sales,” says Katie. “But the mentality should be: Is it really a bargain if you weren’t going to spend the money originally? Our campaign stance was not to encourage impulse buying, and we saw a lot of engagement because of the shared values and common ground it established with our audience.”
“There is so much overconsumption on Black Friday,” adds Amanda. “Our stance wasn’t necessarily don’t make a purchase, but if you’re going to, buy something you’ve wanted for a really long time.”
Pantee didn’t stop there. To bring the campaign to life and put their words into action, the retailer turned off their website to all but their engaged customers, who were only able to access the website through a code they sent to their existing mailing list.
The campaign was an overwhelming success, leading to a significant increase in sales, social engagement and reach, brand awareness and new customer acquisition.
- Engagement on social media doubled throughout the campaign (from 4 to 8%), and organic social impressions reached over 4x the total followers at the time.
- The campaign organically increased web traffic by 122% month-over-month in November 2021 without any supported paid spend.
- Pantee’s mailing list grew by 33% in the week leading up to Black Friday.
- The success of the social campaign extended far beyond Pantee’s Instagram, with the initiative featured in top-tier press including The Observer, Drapers, Reuters, The Daily Mail, and more.
“While we didn’t run a sale or any promotions last year, Black Friday was the biggest sales day of the year,” says Katie. “By simply taking a stand and leveraging social to get our message out, we drove a month’s worth of web traffic in a matter of hours and had loads of people signing up for our email list. We saw a ton of new, first-time customers just because they valued what we were doing.”
“Brands often think that you can have values, but they won’t convert to sales,” adds Amanda. “But we think that’s changing—and this campaign is a great example of that.”
Pantee is now launching the campaign for the second year and looking forward to even more impressive results.
4 lessons learned from one unconventional campaign
Whether you’re brainstorming future creative campaigns, building out next quarter’s social marketing strategy or already getting started on planning for next year’s holiday season, Pantee’s Blackout Friday campaign holds great lessons that every marketer should keep top of mind. We asked Amanda and Katie for their top four recommendations—here’s what they said.
1. Hone in on your purpose
“We talk a lot about our values as a brand,” says Katie. “And time and time again, we’ve seen that if we talk about an issue, our values, or something with substance behind it, our engagement is so much higher. That’s what people want to see: something that gets them thinking.”
Amanda adds: “I think at one point, we lost our way a bit and became more product and sales heavy on our social channels, and we noticed that we weren’t getting the same reach. Pushing product works through email marketing and other areas of the business, but with social, we’ve seen a bigger opportunity to educate our audience and share useful information that they can walk away with.”
2. An engaged community is everything
“There’s a huge difference between growing a following and growing a following that also has engagement,” explains Katie.” When it comes to social, what we’ve found is that people who engaged with us early on have become advocates for our brand. We see so much value in community and engaging with our customers beyond getting the sale. Many brands see social as a platform to get their message out, but for us, it’s a two-way street.”
3. Don’t be afraid to be bold
“We learned quite early on with our social that the highest peaks of engagement happened when we took a stand for something,” says Katie. “We’ve always been quite mission driven, but we like to have fun with it and not be too preachy. When we’ve launched campaigns with our sustainability mission at the forefront, the engagement has been through the roof.”
4. Remember that there’s more to social than what you’re posting
“Social media isn’t just about what you post, it’s about how you engage with other accounts and make people feel,” explains Amanda. “Spending time on your social platforms connecting with others, building relationships and establishing an engaged community is invaluable. We use our social channels for two-way conversations with both customers and our community – there is so much you can learn when you talk with them instead of at them.”
If there’s one takeaway that rises above all the others, it’s that social is one of the most powerful tools that brands can use to ignite their business, turning bystanders into loyal brand advocates, awareness into sales, and your mission into positive, tangible change. Just ask Pantee.
Find out about the biggest trends shaping social media so you can stay ahead of the game—and make sure your next social campaign is a winner.
How To Find and Use Business-Friendly TikTok Sounds
TikTok is many things to many, many people — a daily vlog, a place to get news and an incredibly popular search engine. Still, it’s important to remember that TikTok started as a place for sounds.
Yes, before it was the all-consuming social media beast it is today, TikTok was mostly known for music. In fact, it merged with a lip-synching service called Musical.ly in 2018 to become the app we know and love today.
Whether it’s a song, a movie clip, a lip-synch or something else, sounds make TikTok special. In fact, 88% of users say sound is vital to the TikTok experience.
Whether you’re promoting your personal page or your business profile, mastering TikTok sounds is always in your best interest.
Read our handy guide to learn how to find sounds on TikTok that work for your business.
Bonus: Get a free TikTok Growth Checklist from famous TikTok creator Tiffy Chen that shows you how to gain 1.6 million followers with only 3 studio lights and iMovie.
In a way, TikTok sounds work like hashtags do on other social media apps. Add a trending TikTok sound to your video, and you’ll enter into a larger conversation happening around that sound.
If you choose the right sound and do something special with it, you could make a lot of waves. Here’s how to find TikTok sounds that will click with your audience.
The beauty of trending content on TikTok is that it’s easily presented to you right on your For You Page. Unless you’ve royally messed up your algorithm with weird browsing habits, chances are you’ll have viral content on your FYP when you open the app.
And if you notice a sound that’s been used more than once on a cursory scroll, you might have a trending sound on your hands. Tap on the song (at the bottom right) and take a look at what else is happening.
The song’s landing page allows you to add the song to your favorites, share with friends, or use the audio right away.
But this is also a great place to see if an audio trend has really gone mainstream. Check out how many other videos on TikTok use that sound and you’ll have a pretty good sense of whether a song is truly viral.
Meghan Trainor’s “Made You Look” has been used in 1.5 million TikToks, so it’s safe to say that it’s a pretty popular audio.
In addition to its timeline, TikTok has a powerful search function. You can find plenty of great trending content just by hitting the search bar. Even something as obvious as “viral sounds” will bring up, well, plenty of viral sounds.
You can hit the Hashtags tab of the search results for another set of popular options. Users often hijack trending songs with content unrelated to the trend, but you should strike gold without too much effort.
It’s obvious, for sure, but still worth noting that the best place to find trending TikTok sounds is, well, the TikTok sound library.
The sound tab makes it easy to find a list of recommended playlists with trending sounds. Be sure to look at the “Featured” and “TikTok Viral” playlists for more inspiration.
TikTok has made it even easier than searching for sounds yourself, however, thanks to their Creative Center.
This resource lets you see real-time stats about specific songs and sounds on the app. You can see how well a sound is doing based on specific regions too. This is super helpful if you’re targeting a part of the world that you’re not currently in.
@tiktokforbusinesssea 💥 Visit TikTok Creative Center at our bio for all the inspo you need to bring your #creative A-game. #tiktokforbusiness #tiktoktips ♬ original sound – TikTok for Business SEA
You can view limited info on the Creative Center without logging in, but you’ll need to create a free TikTok Business Account if you want to dive deeper.
You don’t have to stay within TikTok to find the best trending sounds.
You can use these sites to view stats like which TikTok songs are charting and where. You can even see which hashtags are associated with the song.
If a song is trending on TikTok, it’s likely trending worldwide too. TikTok is inherently tied to the modern music industry, so it’s wise to keep an eye on trends at large. If a song is incredibly popular on Spotify or YouTube, it will likely do well on TikTok too.
You can even put on your music industry hat and start watching the Billboard Hot 100 chart to see which songs might be future trends. You could even follow Billboard on TikTok.
@billboard Here’s a breakdown of @Taylor Swift’s big week on the Billboard #Hot100. 💯 #taylorswift #billboard #swifties #midnights #theerastour #antihero #taylornation #billboardcharts #tsmidnights #tsmidnightsts #tsmidnightsalbum ♬ smiles & sunsets – ultmt.
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You’ve learned how to find trending songs, so now all you have to do is add a new Taylor Swift song to your latest video, right? That’s technically the case for influencers, but it’s not so straightforward for business accounts.
Business accounts do not have access to major pop songs — or really, songs by any well-known artists. That’s because potential copyright issues could arise if they use them in an ad.
If your business account tries to use a copyrighted sound, you’ll see the following disclaimer:
Fortunately, there are still plenty of options for using TikTok sounds as a brand.
Here are some options for what you can do.
There are over 150,000 pre-cleared tracks from just about any genre. You won’t have any shortage of options that are suitable for your content.
You can search for songs by genre, hashtag, mood or song title, and there are even playlists you can browse for inspo. It’s an easy solution for branded content.
@nfl that fake out tho 😮💨 @49ers #rayraymccloud #sanfrancisco ♬ Beat Automotivo Tan Tan Tan Viral – WZ Beat
The track “Beat Automotivo Tan Tan Tan Vira” by WZ Beat is an example of a royalty-free sound that has gone superviral on the app.
If your marketing budget has room for audio production, consider using TikTok’s in-house sound marketing partners. Last year, TikTok expanded its Marketing Partner Program to include Sound Partners.
The program now boasts offerings from international music companies like Butter, 411 Music Group, Sonhouse, AEYL MUSIC and many, many more.
The cost will vary depending on the scope of your campaign. Some of the production houses also offer subscription services in addition to per-project fees. You could even work with them to strategize the sounds of your entire brand TikTok page.
If you’d rather not use some stock music as your audio track, there are plenty of other options available to you if you opt to make your own sounds. Depending on how ambitious you feel, they can be as complicated or simple as you want.
For one thing, you could make or hire someone to make original music for your TikTok page. That could look like messing around in Garageband or collaborating with an audio composer and musician.
This option isn’t necessarily ideal if you have no musical knowledge whatsoever, but it could pay off in major ways. After all, a branded audio sting or TikTok-ready jingle could travel far if other users want to use it in their videos.
That last point is also why you could do just as well to create an official sound that is just, well, you talking. If you say something memorable enough that others will want to quote, you might find your sound being reused in other videos.
If you’ve named the sound and included mention of your brand somewhere, that could pay off for your project in the long run.
@elfyeah Poof! 💨 Poreless putty can make anything disappear! Show us your #elfvanishingact ✨ @rominagafur #porelessputty #elfyeah #elfcosmetics ♬ Vanishing Act e.l.f. Poreless Putty Primer – elfyeah
The cosmetic brand e.l.f. works with agencies to create original songs that go viral and launch TikTok trends.
If you’ve had some luck with Duets or noticed you’ve developed a bit of a following on TikTok, you could straight up request user-generated content from your fanbase. Framed correctly, a user-generated campaign could pay off very well.
Think of ways your specific demographic would want to participate in your campaign. You can try asking for a testimonial or tutorial about your product or even something more creative like a joke or a jingle. If it applies to you, you could encourage fans to react to your work or have them come up with a comedy sketch. You could even incorporate the user-generated content into a contest of some kind.
Another great way to inspire user-generated content is to encourage Duets. If your branded video is the kind of thing that users will want to collaborate with, it will likely make some waves throughout TikTok. Think about what kind of Duet someone might want to create with your content and go from there.
@yoleendadong #duet with @vessi wow no more wet socks pretty cool kinda freaky deaky ✨ #nomorewetsocks #vessi #waterproof #waterproofshoes #ketchup ♬ December (April Remix) – The Young Ebenezers
The shoe company Vessi encourages Duets with contests, call-outs and, well, extremely weird videos that are begging for live reactions.
If you post anything made by someone else, you should always credit them in the caption. This will keep you safe from any issues should the users choose to copyright their audio later on.
You should also avoid reposting audio that includes copyrighted music, even if it’s in the background.
Okay, we get it: you absolutely need to use a Carly Rae Jepsen song in your TikTok brand campaign. There’s simply no replacement for her uniquely crafted, emotive pop music.
In that case, you could license a song to use in your video. This might get expensive, but it is technically possible. Start by seeking legal advice from a copyright or music licensing lawyer — and let us know how it goes!
Still confused? Here’s a breakdown of some frequently asked questions about TikTok Sounds.
Yes. Businesses can use TikTok sounds in their videos so long as they are cleared for commercial use. The best ways to incorporate sounds into business posts are to use TikTok’s pre-cleared commercial audio, make your own original sounds or use user-generated content (and credit the creators).
If you receive this error, it most likely means that you are trying to access a “mainstream” song while using a business account on TikTok.
TikTok users with personal accounts can use any sound they like — including the world’s most popular pop songs — but TikTok does not allow businesses to use mainstream music in their videos.
They implemented this policy in 2020, at which point they introduced the royalty-free music available in their Commercial Music Library.
@timmycobbsfitness #moda #problemsolved #fyp #business ♬ Meet Me At Our Spot – THE ANXIETY & WILLOW & Tyler Cole
TikTok’s commercial sound library is available on both the app and your desktop browser.
If you’re using the app:
- Open the camera and tap Add sound
- Then tap Sounds and search Commercial sounds.
This will bring you to the Commercial Music Library, where you can browse your options.
There’s no direct way to download a sound from TikTok onto your device.
If you want to save your favorite sound on TikTok, tap the bookmark icon to add a sound to your favorites. This will save it within the app, so you can easily use it later.
If you really want a TikTok sound for use outside of the app, you could consider screen recording or downloading a TikTok video with a third-party app or website.
Once you’ve added a TikTok sound to your favorites, it’s as easy as tapping the Favorites tab when you’re making a post.
When you add sound to a new TikTok, just tap the Favorites tab. All of your previously saved sounds will show up under that banner.
You can’t add multiple sounds to the same TikTok within the app. If you’re looking to stitch together more than one sound, you’ll have to use a third-party video editor to create your video, then upload it to the app.
If you do this, however, you will likely miss out on having your video associated with that particular sound in TikTok’s database.
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What Is a UGC Creator? Follow These 5 Steps To Become One
Have you ever dreamed about becoming an influencer and getting paid to create social media content without needing a big audience? Well, a new wave of people is doing just that: UGC creators.
If you’ve spent time on TikTok or Instagram in the last 6-12 months, chances are you’ve come across UGC creators. Even if you don’t recognize the term, you’ve probably seen content made by these creators on your favorite brands’ accounts.
By the end of this guide, you’ll know the exact steps needed to become a UGC content creator.
Bonus: Unlock our free, customizable pitch deck template to successfully reach out to brands and lock down the influencer partnership of your dreams.
What is a UGC creator?
A UGC creator is someone who creates sponsored content that appears authentic but is designed to showcase a specific business or product.
The most common format for UGC creators is video, especially on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Creators usually film and narrate the content from their perspective, which gives it an authentic feel.
The main difference between UGC creators and influencers is that UGC creators create and deliver to businesses without the obligation to post it on their channels (although some UGC deals may add this for an extra fee). With influencers, the company usually pays for both content and exposure to the influencer’s audiences.
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UGC content also tends to appear less polished and professional than influencer content, which helps to preserve the authenticity of UGC.
Why is UGC so valuable?
While being a UGC creator is a new concept, traditional user-generated content (UGC) is not. It’s become a proven tool in social media strategies for building communities, increasing brand awareness, and driving sales.
Despite the name, UGC creators are not creating traditional organic UGC. Normally, UGC is created organically by customers in the form of photos, videos, testimonials, product reviews, and blog posts and shared spontaneously. Businesses can choose to re-share a customer’s UGC, but no payment or contracts are involved.
UGC creators create content that emulates traditional UGC, using the same unpolished and authentic filming style that an everyday creator might use when sharing a review of their favorite product.
As driving awareness and sales are valuable results for any business, it’s no surprise that brands are willing to pay UGC creators. Understanding the reasons why can help you better pitch yourself for UGC jobs.
It feels authentic
Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to view UGC as authentic versus content created by brands. UGC is the social media equivalent of product reviews and word-of-mouth.
User-created content will always have an organic feel that can’t be matched by brands, no matter how “cool” they are. As such, UGC tends to be more eye-catching and engaging, which is invaluable to brands.
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It’s cheaper than influencer content
When working with influencers, brands need to pay for both the content and the posts on the influencer’s channels. The more reach and engagement an influencer has, the more a brand has to pay — which can be in the millions for celebrities!
With UGC content, brands only need to pay for the content itself, which often can be the same quality (or better) than the content from influencers. It also gives them complete control over the distribution and positioning of the content.
It can influence purchase decisions
Many brands pay to get UGC to use in social media ads because it influences purchase decisions. UGC acts as social proof, showing that real people are buying and using a product, which can drive more sales.
Moreover, UGC doesn’t look like a blatant ad, which can make it more engaging when used in ad campaigns.
It’s faster than producing content from scratch
By sourcing content from UGC creators, a brand can get way more pieces than if it created them in-house. Brands can distribute a UGC brief to multiple creators, who will produce and deliver the content back to the brand by the same deadline.
How to become a UGC creator
Anyone with a decent smartphone or camera can become a UGC creator. You don’t need a bunch of followers or professional video editing skills.
That’s the beauty of UGC — the more authentic and natural the content is, the better.
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We’ve put together five steps to get you started as a UGC creator.
Step 1: Figure out your filming setup
You can shoot UGC almost anywhere — at home, outside, or in a store (as long as there isn’t too much background noise). Many UGC creators create content in the comforts of their homes, where they can perfect their filming setup.
In terms of equipment, you only need a phone with a decent camera and a tripod to stabilize your phone for product shots.
Some optional upgrades:
- Ring light. Useful for closeups of your face and filming at night or in darker rooms.
- Lavalier mic. Plugs into your phone’s audio jack and improves the quality of your recorded audio. Alternatively, you can also use the mic on a pair of wired headphones.
- Backdrops. You can get creative here – paper, fabric, and construction materials all can serve as backdrops.
- Props. Varies depending on the product, but find props that match the lifestyle or use cases of the product you’re showcasing.
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Pro tip: Don’t let the quality of your equipment or filming setup hold you back. Many UGC creators produce great content with just a phone, the product, and themselves. Once you get more experienced and start receiving feedback from brands, you can upgrade your equipment and setup.
Step 2: Build your UGC portfolio
Ah, the old chicken-and-egg dilemma: To create UGC content, you need products. However, brands will only send you products once you have a portfolio. So, how do you get started?
The answer: Make content for free featuring your favorite products. You don’t need permission from brands as long as you don’t portray it as a paid deal/sponsored content if you choose to post it.
There are several common types of UGC content:
- Unboxing. Opening a new product’s packaging and revealing all the contents. You can narrate the functions of the included pieces and how to use them.
- Review/testimonial. Giving your honest opinion on a product and how it works. UGC testimonials are different from other product reviews in that they should be short and not as in-depth, perhaps only focusing on one aspect instead of the whole product.
- How to/use cases. Demonstrating how you use the product. These can be more lifestyle-focused videos, showing how you naturally use the product during your daily life, or more tutorial-style videos.
Pro tip: When you’re just starting your portfolio, we suggest focusing on videos, as this is the most common format for UGC requests. Aim to have at least one example from all UGC types above.
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Step 3: Practice your editing skills
Once you’ve recorded your clip(s), the next step is to edit them. The typical length for UGC videos is 15-60 seconds.
Editing videos can be tricky to learn, but luckily there are many apps to make it easier. Two of the most popular apps are CapCut and InShot. The in-app editors within TikTok and Instagram are also quite user-friendly and have many of the same features as third-party apps.
If you’re creating UGC for TikTok, here are 15 tips on how to edit your videos.
Pro tip: Practice, practice, practice! There is no shortcut to becoming good at video editing. The more you get used to the tools, the quicker you’ll get. We recommend incorporating TikTok trends into your UGC videos to make them more engaging.
Check out these clips for editing inspiration:
Step 4: Post your UGC (optional)
This step is optional, as posting your content isn’t generally required as part of UGC contracts. However, it is an excellent way to practice and get feedback on how to improve your content. Even with a small audience, you can learn what works and what doesn’t work by checking the analytics for your posts.
Posting your UGC on your account also allows brands to see your content, after which they may reach out to you to offer UGC gigs.
Pro tips: If you want to increase the chances of brands discovering your UGC, don’t use hashtags like #UGC or #UGCcreator — these will signal the algorithm to serve your content to other UGC creators. Instead, use industry- and product-related hashtags.
Secondly, add your email (or another way to contact you) to your bio to make it easy for brands to reach out to you.
Step 5: Get paid
Now you’re ready for the next stage: Getting paid for your UGC! Once you have a portfolio, you can start applying for UGC gigs. We know this is easier said than done, so we’ve expanded our tips into a whole section below.
4 tips for getting paid as a UGC creator
1. Use platforms to find brand deals
With UGC’s rise, there are new platforms dedicated to facilitating UGC brand deals. Some post opportunities for creators to apply, while others require you to create a listing for your content creation services.
Here are some platforms to search for UGC opportunities:
- Fiverr. Create a listing with your UGC services (such as this) and wait for brands to book you.
- Upwork. You can apply to UGC creator jobs or list your UGC services.
- Billo. US-based creators only.
- Insense. You join via an app and choose opportunities to apply to.
- Brands Meet Creators. They send UGC opportunities via email.
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2. Network with brands and business owners
If you want to be more proactive and work with specific brands, then your best bet is to network via platforms like Linkedin, Twitter, and TikTok.
You can use these platforms for networking in several ways:
- Personal branding. Post updates on your account sharing your journey as a UGC creator, and add a CTA for brands to contact you for UGC
- Cold outreach. Think about brands you genuinely like and for which you would enjoy creating content, and reach out to folks who work at those companies
Pro tip: Smaller companies like startups and small businesses just starting to build their social media presence are more likely to need UGC.
3. Perfect your pitch
Pitching yourself to a brand for a UGC opportunity is like applying for a job. As more and more people become UGC creators, it’ll become more competitive. That means you need to make your pitch stand out.
Keep your pitches focused on the brand (not yourself) and the value you’ll provide for them through your UGC.
Pro tip: Tailor your pitch for each opportunity you apply to. In your portfolio, curate examples that are relevant to each brand’s industry and will appeal to that brand’s target audience.
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4. Know your worth
As with influencer marketing, payment rates for UGC creation vary widely. The brand or platform usually sets the rate for brand deals. Nonetheless, staying up-to-date with market rates will empower you to choose deals that pay fairly. This benefits you and ensures equitable compensation for other UGC creators.
Pro tip: Follow UGC creators on TikTok and Instagram, as they often post content sharing behind-the-scenes details on how they negotiate brand deals and how much they get paid.
Frequently asked questions about UGC creators
How many followers do I need to get paid as a UGC creator?
You don’t need a certain number of followers to become a UGC creator. Many UGC brand deals are content-only, meaning you only have to create and deliver content, with no requirement to post it on your own channels.
How do I find brands to work with?
The easiest way to know if a brand is looking for UGC creators is to use platforms that curate UGC brand deals. Brands may also advertise call-outs for UGC creators in their feed posts or Stories. You can also DM brands with your pitch in case they’re open to working with UGC creators.
How do I create a UGC portfolio?
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