Mapping the customer journey can give you a way to better understand your customers and their needs. As a tool, it allows you to visualize the different stages that a customer goes through when interacting with your business; their thoughts, feelings, and pain points.
And, it’s shown that the friction from those pain points costs big: in 2019, ecommerce friction totaled an estimated 213 billion in lost US revenue.
Customer journey maps can help you to identify any problems or areas where you could improve your customer experience. In this article, we’ll explain what the customer journey mapping process is and provide a free template that you can use to create your own map. Let’s get started!
Bonus: Get our free, fully customizable Customer Experience Strategy Template that will help you understand your customers and reach your business goals.
What is a customer journey map?
So, what is customer journey mapping? Essentially, customer journey maps are a tool that you can use to understand the customer experience. Customer journey maps are often visual representations showing you the customer’s journey from beginning to end. They include all the touchpoints along the way.
There are often four main stages in your sales funnel, and knowing these can help you create your customer journey maps:
- Inquiry or awareness
- Interest, comparison, or decision-making
- Purchase or preparation
- Installation, activation, or feedback
Customer journey maps are used to track customer behavior and pinpoint areas where the customer experiences pain points. With this information uncovered, you can improve the customer experience, giving your customers a positive experience with your company.
You can use customer journey mapping software like Excel or Google sheets, Google Decks, infographics, illustrations, or diagrams to create your maps. But you don’t actually need customer journey mapping tools. You can create these maps with a blank wall and a pack of sticky notes.
Though they can be scribbled on a sticky note, it’s often easier to create these journeys digitally. That way, you have a record of your journey map, and you can share it with colleagues. We’ve provided free customer journey mapping templates at the end of this article to make your life a little easier.
The benefits of using customer journey maps
The main benefit of customer journey mapping is a better understanding of how your customers feel and interact with your business touchpoints. With this knowledge, you can create strategies that better serve your customer at each touchpoint.
Give them what they want and make it easy to use, and they’ll keep coming back. But, there are a couple of other great knock-on benefits too.
Improved customer support
Your customer journey map will highlight moments where you can add some fun to a customer’s day. And it will also highlight the pain points of your customer’s experience. Knowing where these moments are will let you address them before your customer gets there. Then, watch your customer service metrics spike!
Effective marketing tactics
A greater understanding of who your customers are and what motivates them will help you to advertise to them.
Let’s say you sell a sleep aid product or service. A potential target market for your customer base is young, working mothers who are strapped for time.
The tone of your marketing material can empathize with their struggles, saying, “The last thing you need is someone asking if you’re tired. But we know that over half of working moms get less than 6 hours of sleep at night. While we can’t give you more time, we know how you can make the most of those 6 hours. Try our Sleep Aid today and sleep better tonight.”
Building out customer personas will show potential target audiences and their motivation, like working moms who want to make the most of their hours asleep.
Product advancements or service improvements
By mapping your customer’s journey, you’ll gain insights into what motivates them to make a purchase or prevents them from doing so. You’ll have clarity on when or why they return items and which items they buy next. With this information and more, you’ll be able to identify opportunities to upsell or cross-sell products.
A more enjoyable and efficient user experience
Customer journey mapping will show you where customers get stuck and bounce off your site. You can work your way through the map, fixing any friction points as you go. The end result will be a smoothly-running, logical website or app.
A customer-focused mindset
Instead of operating with the motivation of business success, a customer journey map can shift your focus to the customer. Instead of asking yourself, “how can I increase profits?” ask yourself, “what would better serve my customer?” The profits will come when you put your customer first.
At the end of the day, customer journey maps help you to improve your customer experience and boost sales. They’re a useful tool in your customer experience strategy.
How to create a customer journey map
There are many different ways to create a customer journey map. But, there are a few steps you’ll want to take regardless of how you go about mapping your customer’s journey.
Step 1. Set your focus
Are you looking to drive the adoption of a new product? Or perhaps you’ve noticed issues with your customer experience. Maybe you’re looking for new areas of opportunity for your business. Whatever it is, be sure to set your goals before you begin mapping the customer journey.
Step 2. Choose your buyer personas
To create a customer journey map, you’ll first need to identify your customers and understand their needs. To do this, you will want to access your buyer personas.
Buyer personas are caricatures or representations of someone who represents your target audience. These personas are created from real-world data and strategic goals.
If you don’t already have them, create your own buyer personas with our easy step-by-step guide and free template.
Choose one or two of your personas to be the focus of your customer journey map. You can always go back and create maps for your remaining personas.
Step 3. Perform user research
Interview prospective or past customers in your target market. You do not want to gamble your entire customer journey on assumptions you’ve made. Find out directly from the source what their pathways are like, where their pain points are, and what they love about your brand.
You can do this by sending out surveys, setting up interviews, and examining data from your business chatbot. Be sure to look at what the most frequently asked questions are. If you don’t have a FAQ chatbot like Heyday, that automates customer service and pulls data for you, you’re missing out!
You will also want to speak with your sales team, your customer service team, and any other team member who may have insight into interacting with your customers.
Step 4. List customer touchpoints
Your next step is to track and list the customer’s interactions with the company, both online and offline.
A customer touchpoint means anywhere your customer interacts with your brand. This could be your social media posts, anywhere they might find themselves on your website, your brick-and-mortar store, ratings and reviews, or out-of-home advertising.
Write as many as you can down, then put on your customer shoes and go through the process yourself. Track the touchpoints, of course, but also write down how you felt at each juncture and why. This data will eventually serve as a guide for your map.
Step 5. Build your customer journey map
You’ve done your research and gathered as much information as possible, now it’s time for the fun stuff. Compile all of the information you’ve collected into one place. Then, start mapping out your customer journey! You can use the templates we’ve created below for an easy plug-and-play execution.
Step 6. Analyze your customer journey map
Once the customer journey has been mapped out, you will want to go through it yourself. You need to experience first-hand what your customers do to fully understand their experience.
As you journey through your sales funnel, look for ways to improve your customer experience. By analyzing your customer’s needs and pain points, you can see areas where they might bounce off your site or get frustrated with your app. Then, you can take action to improve it.
Types of customer journey maps
There are many different types of customer journey maps. We’ll take you through four to get started: current state, future state, a day in the life, and empathy maps. We’ll break down each of them and explain what they can do for your business.
This customer journey map focuses on your business as it is today. With it, you will visualize the experience a customer has when attempting to accomplish their goal with your business or product. A current state customer journey uncovers and offers solutions for pain points.
This customer journey map focuses on how you want your business to be. This is an ideal future state. With it, you will visualize a customer’s best-case experience when attempting to accomplish their goal with your business or product.
Once you have your future state customer journey mapped out, you’ll be able to see where you want to go and how to get there.
A day-in-the-life customer journey is a lot like the current state customer journey, but it aims to highlight aspects of a customer’s daily life outside of how they interact with your brand.
Day-in-the-life mapping looks at everything that the consumer does during their day. It shows what they think and feel within an area of focus with or without your company.
When you know how a consumer spends their day, you can more accurately strategize where your brand communication can meet them. Are they checking Instagram on their lunch break, feeling open and optimistic about finding new products? If so, you’ll want to target ads on that platform to them at that time.
Day-in-the-life customer journey examples can look vastly different depending on your target demographic.
Empathy maps don’t follow a particular sequence of events along the user journey. Instead, these are divided into four sections and track what someone says about their experience with your product when it’s in use.
You should create empathy maps after user research and testing. You can think of them as an account of all that was observed during research or testing when you asked questions directly regarding how people feel while using products. Empathy maps can give you unexpected insights into your users’ needs and wants.
Customer journey map templates
Customer journey map template for the current state:
The future state customer journey mapping template:
A day-in-the-life customer journey map template:
An empathy map template:
A customer journey map example
It can be helpful to see customer journey mapping examples. To give you some perspective on what these look like executed, we’ve created a customer journey mapping example of the current state.
Curious Colleen, a 32-year-old female, is in a double-income no-kids marriage. Colleen and her partner work for themselves; while they have research skills, they lack time. She is motivated by quality products and frustrated by having to sift through content to get the information she needs.
What are their key goals and needs?
Colleen needs a new vacuum. Her key goal is to find one that will not break again.
What are their struggles?
She is frustrated that her old vacuum broke and that she has to spend time finding a new one. Colleen feels as though this problem occurred because the vacuum she bought previously was of poor quality.
What tasks do they have?
Colleen must research vacuums to find one that will not break. She must then purchase a vacuum and have it delivered to her house.
|Sales funnel stage||Define||Compare||Negotiate||Purchase|
|Actions||Colleen starts by looking at reviews of her old vacuum online and begins to make a list of features she wants in her new vacuum.||Colleen starts researching ‘best cordless vacuums’ and comparing products.
She looks at our site but bounces off fairly quickly, though she also bounces off our competitors’ sites quickly, too.
She searches “the top ten cordless vacuums” and once again, finds our product on the list.
|Colleen looks into competitors’ deals on vacuums using “the top ten cordless vacuums” as a guide.
Colleen specifically looks for quality. She also considers shipping costs as she does not want to spend more time picking a vacuum up
She calls her current vacuum company to tell them the model she bought broke.
|Colleen decides to purchase our cordless vacuum.
In her feedback, she gives us 3 stars out of 5 for her web experience but 5 out of 5 stars for her product experience. She comments on the difficulty of getting the information she wanted.
|Emotional state||She is frustrated by how much time she must now spend researching vacuums. She is also excited at the prospect of getting a new vacuum that can do a better job||She is frustrated by all the vacuum sites she looks at because they do not immediately and concisely outline benefits.||She is frustrated by her old vacuum company’s lack of customer service and having to wait on-hold on the phone.||She feels secure because we have a 5-year warranty and good customer reviews.
She feels validated by the free shipping and is happy to share her feedback.
|Touchpoints||She hears about us because of our advertisements on Google and Instagram.||She lands on our website, uses the search bar to look up ‘cordless vacuums’ and finds one of our models.
She clicks on our link through the ‘top ten’ list.
She reads customer reviews on our product on Reddit and Google reviews.
|After looking at competitors, she comes back to our site, puts a cordless vacuum in her cart, but waits to purchase in case she changes her mind. In the meantime, she goes back to our social media feed to look at post comments and ‘tagged photos’. She wants to be sure this is the right choice.
Colleen receives an email from our abandoned cart email flow that gives her free shipping and guarantees her money back if something happens to the vacuum in the first five years.
|Colleen receives an email survey asking about her experience.|
Colleen wants to understand quickly and immediately the benefits our product offers; how can we make this easier? Colleen upholds social proof as a decision-making factor. How can we better show our happy customers? There is an opportunity here to restructure our website information hierarchy or implement customer service tools to give Colleen the information she needs faster. We can create comparison charts with competitors, have benefits immediately and clearly stated, and create social campaigns.
- Implement a chatbot so customers like Colleen can get the answers they want quickly and easily.
- Create a comparison tool for competitors and us, showing benefits and costs.
- Implement benefit-forward statements on all landing pages.
- Create a social campaign dedicated to UGC to foster social proof.
- Send out surveys dedicated to gathering customer feedback. Pull out testimonial quotes from here when possible.
Now that you know what the customer journey mapping process is, you can take these tactics and apply them to your own business strategy. By tracking customer behavior and pinpointing areas where your customers experience pain points, you’ll be able to alleviate stress for customers and your team in no time.
Turn customer conversations and inquiries into sales with Heyday, our dedicated conversational AI chatbot for social commerce retailers. Deliver 5-star customer experiences — at scale.
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.
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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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