It’s always helpful when someone else recommends your brand to your target market, and that’s what user generated content is all about.

Whether it’s a review, a social post, a blog post, or something else, any positive content your customers create about you is welcomed. This is true now more than ever before. With changes to social media algorithms, there is a greater emphasis on people than brands, and it's driving people to listen to other people over brands, ads, and influencers. The trick is to make the most out of each piece of user generated content that says something positive about your brand.

In today’s world, earned media is invaluable. When you combine the cost savings on digital ads with the authenticity of a message allowing it to be better received among your target audience, boosting a recommendation from a customer does so much more for you than an advertisement.

unnamed (1)Credit is given by Walt Disney World and Go Pro to their image contributor,
while bolstering amazing engagement from their community.

This is the purpose of user generated content. It’s all about giving your biggest fans a platform to promote your brand. You’re not paying these people to say something nice about you. They’re doing it on their own, and you are expanding their reach by promoting their message.

So what does this look like? And how does it work?

It’s All About Trust

People trust other people more than they trust brands, ads, or influencers.

When you see a brand account post something positive about themselves, you view it with a bit of skepticism. Everyone does. They’re promoting their own products or services because they want you to buy them. They have an incentive and an agenda attached to this promotion.

The same can be said about advertisements. Someone paid money to post an ad on social media to convince you to buy a product. How trustworthy is that?

You can’t always trust social media influencers either, despite the rise in influencer marketing. People recognize that influencers take money to promote products, so they should be viewed with the same amount of skepticism as an ad or a brand account promoting their own product.

But when someone who isn’t an influencer and doesn’t receive money to promote a product does just that, they’re viewed as authentic, and your audience sees that and values that.

Screen Shot 2019-06-06 at 1.57.00 PMFor example, if someone puts out a social post about your brand, writes a review about your products or services, or writes a blog post about your event, that’s user generated content helping promote your brand. That’s something people listen to and trust more than anything else.

And not only is your message received better from these people, but it also costs you way less money.  

Rising Costs of Digital Ads

User generated content is free advertising, which is becoming more valuable than ever before.

Digital advertising is expensive. In fact, the average cost of a Facebook ad is rising, which means you can look forward to shelling out more money for Facebook ads, or you can find a workaround. The Facebook algorithm prioritizes people over brands in its feeds, so in order to get noticed without paying for ads, you need people to promote your brand.

So, how do you do that?

Run Campaigns  

You need to communicate to your customers that you appreciate them for promoting your product or services when they write reviews and share their experience through social posts and other types of content.

One way to do this is you can run campaigns on social media using specific hashtags. If someone promotes your product on social media using your hashtag, consider reposting them on your account.

Knockaround, a sunglasses company, asks its customers to post an image of themselves wearing their Knockaround sunglasses on Instagram and include #KnockFan in the caption. People who did this are considered for a repost on the brand’s account on Fridays, and they’re automatically entered to win a free pair of sunglasses.  Screen Shot 2019-06-05 at 10.35.39 AMAnother example is if you run a restaurant or an out of the box meal preparation service, you could run a similar type of promotion asking people to post an image of their food. If you’re at a conference, you could ask people to post images of themselves at your event or at your booth.

These are all very easy to do, don’t cost you much money, and get you a ton of reach.

Reward Your Advocates

Customers who promote your brand through user generated content are doing you a big favor, so thank them!

You can do this by promotion. Again, you can repost their images on social media, but you can also include their content on your website, your newsletter, and other channels you have at your disposal.

Keep in mind, not all user generated content will be in the form of a  social media post. If someone writes a blog post about your products, that is something you can promote in all your channels. If there is a video of someone talking about your brand or reviewing your products, you can do the same.

People who create digital content like receiving engagement for their post, and you can help them with that.

With an employee advocacy program, promote this content about your brand by requesting the members of your program engage with their posts or promote their content. A little engagement and exposure can go a long way.

Not only does this increase the reach of this user generated, but it also thanks your customers for this content, gives them an incentive to promote you again in the future, and provides a different view or perspective that a brand simply cannot touch on their own.

Getting Started With Employee Advocacy