The influencer economy is on the brink of a seismic shift. Catalyzed by the popularity of TikTok and its algorithm, which prioritizes content types over creators, brand marketers and digital agencies are increasingly allocating social media budgets toward user-generated content (UGC) from small creators and away from big-ticket deals with internet celebs. For many companies that pivoted to the UGC model out of sheer necessity during the pandemic—when staging photo shoots and video productions was out of the question—the results have been astonishing.

“On TikTok, we recently joined their influencer program, and the direct response ads created by influencers didn’t work well,” says Jeannie Assimos, head of content for “Unscripted, off-the-cuff content we created blew the direct-response-style content away in all of our metrics. Testimonials [also] always do well and continue to perform in simple static ads with real people.”

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