The biggest mistake Lauren and I made when we were figuring out how to scale our TikTok UGC agency was not giving creative briefs and thinking the creators could make an amazing video using general guidelines and just the brand’s website…
No. Absolutely not. Like a “wait for weeks just to get a video that needs five rounds of revisions, hours of editing, and prayers” kind of no.
Disclaimer: this is not the case for all creators. There is amazing talent out there, but we’re speaking from our experience and the overall experience of our clients and the brands we talk to.
We quickly realized that this was one of the top pain points brands dealt with when sourcing content. And through tears, trial, and error, we found A LOT of the power was in the creative briefs. Now, I know what you’re thinking…
“We don’t want to give such a specific and rigid brief that the creator doesn’t have creative freedom to make something amazing.” I get it and I thought that too, but we found that most creators are not paid media specialists or marketers, or senior copywriters. And the room left for “creative freedom” actually just ends up being room for misinterpretation, dead space, or (in some way) an end product that didn’t meet or exceed expectations.
Creative freedom can come in the execution of the brief and outline. We have to remember that the UGC creators we work with and refer to are actors. They’re not customers who use your products and have a true, organic story to tell. That’s true user-generated content—but what you’re hearing about left and right is UGC-style content. With creators that are actors and scripts written based off of real customer reviews and transformations.
So let’s get into it. Here are five absolute must-haves for a creative brief that results in an ad creative that will absolutely crush all of the videos you’ve run in the past:
1. Examples and inspiration
Giving creators (and our clients) something tangible to look at does WONDERS. It gives them something tangible to see so they can better understand the vision. Sometimes, we ask our creators for visuals or transitions that are hard to describe with words so we source inspiration videos to demonstrate so they know exactly what we mean.
We use Top Ads on TikTok sometimes, but mainly we use TikTok organic search and filter capabilities. We also spy on the competition.
If you’re only working with written outlines, it leaves a ton of room for (mis)interpretation. It can be a challenge to source inspo considering we come up with brand new, unique concepts from our minds. So, although there might not be a video just like it that exists, we can source videos that may be able to demonstrate at least a little of what we’re thinking.
2. The devil is in the details
Attention to detail is one of the most essential parts for everyone involved—whether you’re a creator or a client. For the creator, the smallest details make a video good. Being mindful and intentional with the shots—taking different angles, varying locations, staying close to the guidelines and outline, and keeping the camera moving rather than just shooting the product sitting on a table. These are all small things that make a massive difference in the final product.
On the client side, paying attention to details can get you the desired outcome a lot easier and faster. We always make sure our clients look over all of the outlines and approve every visual and every script before production. If this is brushed past, you’re bound to need revisions and possibly, refilming (everyone’s worst nightmare especially as a creator).
Pay attention to the details. There’s lots of leg work up front, but again, it saves time, frustration, effort, and money in the long run.
3. Do’s and Dont’s
I’m sure you’ve already had videos created for your brand. And I’m sure some of them were great and I bet a good amount was… Not so great (to put it gently). Keep a doc of what you really like and what’s considered a “DO” for your creative partners. Also, keep a “DON’T” list. If you notice your product is commonly used incorrectly or there are certain angles, packaging, or settings that you don’t want to be filmed, it’s important to state that upfront.
We’ve developed extensive training for all of the creators we work with complimented with a video explainer and real examples of what to do versus what not to do. Maybe sounds overkill but if you don’t define these things, again, you might just be asking for revisions and reshoots.
On the same note of the do’s and dont’s, make sure you’re providing guidelines. Here are some questions to keep in mind when writing these:
- Is there anything specific about your product that you really want to be shown? For examples, one of our clients had a handle on their product and wanted that to be a major focus to show how convenient it is to carry around and use on the go.
- What settings do you want your product to be used in? Maybe a kitchen, but we’ve had clients request “bougie” kitchens. Very important to define.
- Do you have branding guidelines for how the end card or logo should be used?
- Are there any nuisances with using your product? One of our clients had a dietary supplement powder and it was important to show it poured in after the liquid to prevent clumping. The biggest mistake is assuming that creators would know things like this.
5. Past performing creatives
Do your creative partners a massive favor and send over the top-performing creatives (if you have any). It gives us an incredible opportunity to take into account what’s already worked so we can expand on it rather than starting from scratch.
If you don’t have any past performing creatives to share, you can start with sharing videos that you came across that actually sold you or made you stop scrolling and pay attention.
Maybe you or one of your creative team members has handled the briefs and managed different creators to make content, but if you’re getting to the point where it’s not scalable, we’re glad you’re here. We handle the entire process—pre to post-production—including sourcing and managing creators. Get started here.
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