How To: Find Your Brand Advocates And Spotlight Them

Spotlight

Jenny Force Jenny Force, VP of Marketing

As a community management and social marketing guy, nothing gives me more joy than finding excited members of my most passionate customers/users/community members and engaging them in cool and fun ways.

Sometimes called brand advocates, these individuals are posting about your brand or organization on Twitter, Instagram, blogs, Tumblr and more. Sometimes they’ll post an image stating their love for your brand, a blog post explaining their love for your product, and if you’re lucky, they’re advocating for your company, brand or org in person-to-person conversations online.

Let’s check out some examples:

There are three steps to being successful in spotlighting community-generated content (sometimes called user generated content (UGC)).

Let’s begin!

Step 1: Surfacing your brand-relevant community content

First of all, let’s find our needle in the haystack. Luckily for you, dear reader, you likely have a listening tool in place so this isn’t hard. To find the best content, start searching for your brand and product names. Also use hashtags that are relevant to your brand. This might be hashtags from your latest ad campaign or another effort you have going on.

In the case of the first Instagram image above, #redcup is a hashtag relevant to Starbucks’ latest holiday-time themed cup. Searching for #redcup on Instagram using Sysomos MAP, I found the sample Instagram image of a lady driving traffic to her blog by using a fun Instgram image as bait. If I were a Starbucks community manager, I’d consider commenting back as a hat-tip to Maddie.

While Instagram and Twitter are good channels to focus on, don’t forget about other social networks such as Tumblr and YouTube. Here, influencers and advocates are publishing content to be helpful to their audiences. In other conversations, the comments can be a treasure trove of rich content where helpful tips are being passed.

Finding brand advocate mentions beyond mere text

Have you ever wondered about brand mentions originating from advocates and fanboys/fangirls that don’t include text mentions of your brand or hashtags? These used to be a big challenge for community managers. That is, before Sysomos Gaze existed.

Now, marketers can find logos and image-mentions of their brands regardless of the text that accompanies the image.

Gaze - Nike

Step 2: Ask for permission

So, now that you’ve found some great community generated content…what do you do? Unlike what some marketers believe, it’s rude to just take images or customer comments and use them on your owned channels or other usages.

Just like mom used to say, it’s best to ask permission. Luckily, doing this is super easy. Simply reply to the message, either in comments or using an @ mention, and recognize how awesome the image is and simply ask permission.

In my case, earlier this year, T-Mobile US and LG sent me an LG G4 phone to check out and offer my opinions. As I snapped photos of the Oregon landscape and my adventures with the phone, T-Mobile would send me a note on Instagram or Twitter and I was more than happy to let them use my images in their owned channels. A few times they re-grammed the photos. I appreciated being asked.

Here’s another example:

Step 3: Integrate the earned media into other campaigns

There are many steps that can be taken once community-generated content is found and permission is given for re-use.

For starters, use the re-tweet and re-gram methods to echo the user-generated content onto your owned channels. Be sure to always credit the original creator. This is responsible behavior and will lead to a great relationship building move for your brand and the influencer as well.

Blog it

Make that user-generated content the highlighted item in your blog’s editorial calendar. For example, if you’re a tech company that releases a new product and there’s a series of glorifing content items from social, take 10 of them and write a post entitled, “Here’s what our community thinks of the newly release Product X”.

Email it

Looking for fodder for your next email newsletter? Like the tip above, use those comments and images to power your next email.

Perhaps you have a goal to urge existing customers to take an action like view a blog post or upgrade to a new feature/software update. Use comments from social and leverage them to your email newslist of existing customers.

Print it

Let’s say you get some spectacular product photos or social images of your brand or organization. Consider integrating these assets into your next print campaign!

Halvorsen Instagram

Warning though: be sure you compensate the social advocate if you do this. Many advocates don’t mind if you re-use a social post on your brand/organization’s Twitter handle, but putting an image on a billboard or magazine ad campaign is a totally different proposition and compensation is required in these cases.

How have you integrated UGC into your brand social editorial plans?

(image credit: Flickr user aperezdc)