The Power of TikTok User-Generated Content for Ecommerce

The Power of TikTok User-Generated Content for Ecommerce

In November 2023, a TikTok user shared a video of her burnt-out car. Everything was destroyed except her Stanley travel cup, which was miraculously in tip-top condition considering the ordeal it had been through. The video catapulted the stainless steel cup brand into the limelight and sparked responses from the company owner and news outlets all around the world. It was great publicity and the start of something remarkable. 

The Stanley fan content continued. Loyal customers regularly share videos about their beloved mugs, including this TikTok user who shows off her dedicated Stanley cabinet and this user who made a tiny backpack for her tumbler. 

These videos have hundreds and thousands of views, comments, likes, and shares, getting a serious number of eyeballs on Stanley’s products without Stanley having to do much at all. The brand went from a relatively unknown “just another water tumbler” brand to an international sensation thanks to one TikTok video. This shows just how powerful user-generated content (UGC) can be. 

The value of UGC to ecommerce brands

It’s not just Stanley that has experienced the snowball effect of UGC on TikTok. The hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has billions of views, with viral products ranging from a carpet scraper, headphones, and leggings, to face cream, mini waffle makers, and a sunset lamp. 

The most interesting thing about the virality of these products is how they got their moment in the spotlight. There weren’t any highly polished ad campaigns or expensive celebrity endorsements (although those sometimes came later). Most started with simple UGC—a post from a loyal fan, a how-to video, or a “before and after” snapshot. 

And it makes sense. One report revealed that 40% of shoppers consider UGC “extremely” or “very” important when making purchasing decisions. It’s particularly important for brands targeting Gen Z shoppers, who make up a large chunk of today’s consumer base as well as the majority of TikTok’s users. Around 13% of Gen Z shoppers say UGC was the biggest influence on a past purchase. 

As consumers become pickier with the brands they choose, they’re turning to their peers to find products that others fully endorse—and they’re using TikTok as a search engine. Google’s own research shows that 40% of Gen Z choose TikTok over Google to search for products. 

The proof is in the numbers: 90% of consumers prefer to see brands share content from actual customers and 86% of shoppers are more likely to trust a brand that publishes UGC as opposed to influencer-generated content 

UGC is also a far more cost-effective way for brands to gather a library of up-to-date content. One study revealed that 90% of brands struggle to generate images and videos that stand out from the competition and 87% note how difficult it is to maintain a constant flow of fresh content. They also say it’s easier to launch and scale marketing campaigns using the pool of UGC gathered from customers. 

Luckily, today’s social media users (particularly Gen Zers) are willing to share their purchases online, with 80% of this market confirming they’ve shared UGC in the past. 

TikTok is the primary social media platform for influencers

TikTok has come a long way since its early days as a lip-syncing app. It came at just the right time. During lockdown, it provided an escape made up of authentic behind-the-scenes content and an insight into other people’s lives. 

This authenticity has carried on, creating a social media platform unlike any others. The algorithm is designed to give new and lesser-known creators a chance to go viral, which has attracted a large number of TikTok influencers, some with eye-wateringly high follower counts. According to research, there are now more than 100,000 influencers on TikTok, spanning nano influencers with less than 10,000 followers to mega-influencers with millions of followers.  

These newly made influencers are well-trusted by their followers which has laid the foundations for successful brand partnerships. Retailers and ecommerce brands are seeking out relevant TikTok users in their niche to share product insights and transfer pre-established trust to their own brands. 

How TikTok allows marketers to flex their creative muscles 

TikTok has almost transcended the “social media platform” label. New features that help users discover products, news, and communities make it more versatile than “just another place to promote content”. The continuous stream of new content on users’ For You page allows brands to test new content formats and jump on trends. 

Dynamic content formats let users respond to viral content, share “duets”, join hashtag challenges, and share still photo carousels. 

But brands are quickly realising that it’s not enough to share polished, edited videos like they might on other social channels—that’s not what TikTok users want. Instead, they want engaging, authentic, and sometimes weird content. For example, there’s a pest control company that regularly shares videos of bug infestations. It’s grotesque but hard to tear your eyes away and has racked up millions of views. 

Ecommerce brands with well-curated accounts on other social platforms are using TikTok as an experimental playground to test new content formats quickly. 

Take the high-end fashion brand Gucci, for example. Its Instagram account is full of professionally shot product photos

But on TikTok, the brand shares behind-the-scenes footage, customer challenges, and raw footage of models, shows, and its clothing lines. 

The most common content formats for TikTok UGC  

As the Stanley story shows, UGC can materialise when you least expect it. We’re willing to bet the team at Stanley wasn’t counting on a woman’s car burning down to promote their product, but it was the perfect catalyst for a buying frenzy. 

While TikTok UGC comes in many shapes and sizes (the creativity of the platform means pretty much anything goes), several common types of UGC populate the platform. 


Videos are the lifeblood of TikTok. It’s renowned for its short, snappy videos set to a soundtrack of trending tunes. Now, users can share longer, more in-depth videos that lend themselves perfectly to detailed product unboxing footage and how-tos. 


TikTok has recently launched a carousel content format that lets users post a series of still images. It feels suspiciously like Instagram, but the swipe-able format is another way for users to explore products and brands. 


Social proof is a necessity for ecommerce brands. Without confirmation from previous customers that a product is good, shoppers might go elsewhere. Plenty of TikTokers use the platform to share unprompted reviews of their favourite products. 

TikTok Lives

TikTok’s Live element lets users address their audience in real time. While this is predominantly used to host live shopping events, it can also be an engaging way for shoppers to share their latest purchases with their followers.  

3 examples of ecommerce brands leveraging TikTok UGC 

Take inspiration from these ecommerce brands that have dived headfirst into TikTok UGC and are reaping the rewards. 

1. Cambridge Satchel Company’s unboxing and styling videos 

Fans of the Cambridge Satchel Company often share unboxing videos, styling tips, and product reviews on TikTok. 

2. ICONIC London’s product demonstrations 

Beauty brand ICONIC London regularly shares UGC by its audience, including product demonstrations and Get Ready With Me (GRWM) videos. 

In this video, a TikTok user applies the product and shares her thoughts while she does so. 

GRWM videos are particularly popular at the moment and pose a great opportunity for brands to get a mention. ICONIC London capitalises on the trend by sharing any GRWM posts that include its products.

3. Stanley’s product reviews

Stanley has a wealth of UGC to choose from, with fans sharing their favourite water recipes and relatable content about not being able to live without their travel tumbler. 

But perhaps the most effective UGC for Stanley is the sheer number of positive TikTok product reviews from its customers—no doubt inspired by the original fire incident. 

The hashtag #stanleybrand has over 7,000 posts, many of which are essentially love letters from customers. But even after its moment in the limelight, Stanley has continued to leverage reach from its TikTok UGC. The brand has used the momentum to create segmented email workflows and personalised automations based on previous shopper history and preferences. 

How ecommerce brands can incorporate UGC on TikTok 

If you’re reading this thinking you’d like a slice of the action, you can. Because TikTok’s user base is so open to sharing content about products and brands, it’s easy to get started. 

Make UGC a no-brainer

Today’s shoppers—particularly Gen Zers—want to share UGC. They want to create content that shows off their favourite products and praises their top brands. 

Some brands don’t even have to ask their fans to deliver, but if you don’t have a million and one followers just yet, the best thing you can do is make it as easy as possible for shoppers to create UGC.

As well as creating a hashtag where you can build a live library of fresh UGC, ask customers to create content. Use your post-purchase sequences to encourage happy shoppers to share reviews, unboxing videos, and how they use their products on TikTok. 

Give shoppers a reason to share

Sometimes shoppers need a nudge. Make it mutually beneficial for customers to share content about your products on TikTok. You might give them a discount on their next purchase or you can run a competition that invites shoppers to share content to be in with the chance to win a free product or experience. 

Klaviyo supports several TikTok integrations that let you reward shoppers for sharing UGC. For example, Loyoly offers multiple reward options you can share with shoppers who create content on TikTok. French cosmetic brand SiSi La Paillette collected more than 1,600 pieces of UGC in five months with the Klaviyo and Loyoly integration, which increased their conversion rate by 15%. 

Lead by example 

Authenticity is everything on TikTok. Users don’t want polished, professional videos, they want down-and-dirty behind-the-scenes shots and relatable content. The more you interact with shoppers and create the kind of content they want to see on TikTok, the more likely they are to get involved and share their own. 

Reshare and respond  

Don’t let UGC sit and gather dust. Reshare review videos and respond to shoppers when they create content about your brand and products. ICONIC London does a great job of replying to positive reviews in the comments with simple videos, as well as promoting longer UGC videos by its customers. 

Create a snowball effect with TikTok UGC 

The great thing about TikTok is its endless potential. All it takes is one fan video to go viral and all of a sudden you’re enjoying millions of views and a surge in engagement. 

But let’s be honest here—going viral isn’t a given, and that shouldn’t be your goal with TikTok. Instead, use it as a place to experiment with content types, interact with your audience, and encourage customers to share UGC. 

The more UGC you collect, the more likely future customers will share their experiences and create a knock-on effect. What started as a handful of UGC posts (or just one!) can snowball into hundreds and thousands, giving you more opportunities to reach new audiences and promote your products. 

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