How to build brand authenticity with user-generated content and employee advocacy

Aishwarya Suresh

September 25, 202310 min read

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In the content-saturated world we live in, there's a pressing challenge that’s keeping marketers up at night — how to cut through the noise and genuinely connect with their target audiences? 

At the same time, consumers are constantly in search of content they can truly trust. Despite the abundance of content, authenticity in brand messaging often goes missing. That's where user-generated content (UGC) and employee advocacy can truly make a difference, by providing your brand with a chance to differentiate itself from the competition and earn the potential customer’s trust. 

And here's the best part — UGC and employee advocacy trends are changing with each passing day to keep up with the ever-shifting consumer preferences and social trends. For instance, TikTok's become the hotspot for genuine video endorsements and employee advocacy programs augmented with gamification and social sharing are turning staff into brand champions. So, the chances of you going wrog with these strategies are zero. 

As you explore ways to turn fans into brand advocates, allow me to share the top six insights for your brand to stand out and build trust in this authenticity-driven digital age. These insights were gleaned from Socialverse 2023's Power Session 1, featuring Aliza Hornstein, head of social media at WalkMe, and Violeta Vilaseca Sánchez, lead solution consultant at Sprinklr.

Table of Contents

1. Driving brand authenticity in the digital era

In today's ever-changing world of social media and digital marketing, establishing brand authenticity should be a top-of-mind priority for your brand. Here are Aliza’s thoughts on how a brand can not only differentiate itself in the eyes of the consumer but also earn their trust in this era of hyper-connectedness.

Find your own authentic path 

In digital marketing, being authentic is a must. But here's the thing – there's no one-size-fits-all approach. Aliza reminds us that every one of us is on a unique journey. It's like navigating a constantly changing maze because social media platforms and algorithms keep evolving. To stay ahead, we need to be open to experimentation. Try different strategies and see what vibes best with your brand's identity. Think of it as being flexible and ready to adapt in this ever-shifting landscape. 

Aliza's got some sage advice on how to balance your brand's voice with what your employees share.

With all these insights, even when things change, like social media algorithms or leadership shifts, your authenticity remains intact. It's all about keeping it real, staying transparent and connecting authentically with your audience. This way, you'll weather any storm and come out stronger. 

Interesting Read: The 3 habits of highly authentic brands

2. Unlocking the power of metrics for authenticity

It's important to know how well strategies like UGC, employee advocacy and authenticity are working for your brand. Violeta's question gets to the heart of it — what metrics should you focus on to understand how these strategies are impacting your brand's authenticity?

Impressions 

Aliza places impressions in the spotlight. For advocacy, these impressions reflect the initial reach of your content. As this number keeps growing, it's a clear sign that you're on the right track. Think of it as a barometer for your strategy's effectiveness – the higher it goes, the better your connection with your audience.

External comments

These are the conversations happening about your brand beyond your loyal customer base. They're a great resource for feedback and insights. When people are discussing your content beyond your controlled channels, it's a sign of genuine engagement. Monitoring these comments is like listening in on important customer conversations – it tells you if your message is resonating with them.

Clicks (or taps)

They are the digital footprints left by your audience. Clicks indicate that your audience isn't just scrolling by, they're taking action. When people click, whether to check your website, explore your products or read more of your content, it shows how interested and engaged they are with your strategy.

Data-driven strategy

Aliza's wisdom extends beyond the metrics themselves. It's about reading and interpreting the data to fine-tune your strategy. “As soon as you're able to read the data and really apply it to your strategy, you're golden — nothing can stop you,” she said.

It's not just about these numbers and analysis — it's about the stories they tell and the insights they offer. These metrics, when used wisely, become your north star, guiding your brand toward a more authentic and engaging future.

3. Embracing authenticity in the era of messiness

Violeta and Aliza touched on a crucial point during their interaction – the trends and innovations that marketing and social media leaders should be aware of. How can brands make effective use of UGC and employee advocacy? Aliza's insights highlight the shift toward authenticity and the importance of giving everyone in the organization the tools to express themselves effectively.

Authenticity: the buzzword of our time

Aliza's opening remark set the stage, “We're in the era of authenticity.” It's not just a marketing buzzword, she added, it's a defining aspect of how we communicate and connect today. It has become the currency of trust in the digital age.

Empowering everyone to shine

In this era, it's about unearthing the unique voices within your organization and letting them shine — truly aligning with what Aliza stated above. True authenticity is made possible when you provide tools for employees, leadership teams and board members to showcase their talents, expertise and thought leadership.

Embracing the messiness of professional life

As we look at empowering everyone, it’s important to also embrace, as Aliza highlights, the "messy" side of being a professional. It's a reality many face – working from home amid the din of everyday life. If these words resonate with you, it’s because they capture the authentic challenges that so many of us encounter while juggling our careers and personal lives simultaneously.

This reminds us that embracing authenticity means accepting the complexities of modern life. It's about giving everyone a platform to be themselves, whether they're working from a home office with kids in the background or managing a boardroom. The emerging trend is clear!

4. Navigating the path to effective UGC control

When it comes to using the power of UGC, organizations face a myriad of challenges and opportunities. Aliza stresses the need for having clear goals before diving into UGC. 

So, it's not just about managing content — it's about creating an ecosystem where your team can thrive and your brand can shine. 

Learn More: How to leverage user-generated content to drive engagement & conversions on social media 

With Sprinklr, you can manage UGC without breaking a sweat. With its Digital Asset Management module, you can keep all your UGC in a centralized repository. You can sort the content by its source, type and format. Plus, you can add tags so finding the right UGC for your next campaign becomes a cinch.

5. Elevating employee advocacy through personal branding

Aliza talks about one important aspect of employee advocacy that is often overlooked — personal branding. It's the secret sauce that can turn your advocacy from “meh” to “wow.” Let's see how personal branding can boost your employee advocacy efforts.

The clarity conundrum

To enable her employees to have better personal branding while also engaging in advocacy efforts — some thought personal branding meant just sharing company content — Aliza initiated a training program for them. These sessions weren't just informative but were successful in changing minds. The employees learned to differentiate between company content, their own personal brand content and thought leadership content. They understood the need to make content relatable by asking, "Why does this matter to me? Why should my audience care?" It's all about being clear in personal branding.

The power of comfort

Personal branding can be a balancing act between showing your skills and staying humble. Sometimes, employees worry it might seem like they're bragging. But Aliza had a smart solution to address this – she encouraged them to take selfies and get comfortable with the idea of sharing their professional journeys. This approach aimed to help them overcome feelings of embarrassment and nervousness associated with self-promotion.  

She made it clear that personal branding is not just about the company but an investment in their own future. It changed the focus from "What are you doing for the company?" to "What are you doing for yourself?" This shift is important for personal branding to work in employee advocacy.

The mix matters

Aliza highlights the need to share content in a balanced way. Advocates must strike the right balance between company content and personal brand content. The secret, she suggests, lies in a good mix of content — for every piece of company content shared, several pieces of personal brand content should accompany it. This ensures the content being put out is authentic and resonates with the audience.

Unleashing the employee asset

According to Aliza, in the era of authenticity and personal brands, employees become a powerful asset. When they showcase their achievements, expertise and aspirations, it reflects positively on the company. She firmly believes that personal and professional growth are intricately linked. As employees climb their career ladders, the company ascends too. It's a symbiotic relationship you could nurture.

Implementing these ideas in your employee advocacy program can make it more authentic and help your organization grow. It's time to create an engaging story by bringing together personal stories and professional goals.

6. The power of a unified platform

You’ve explored UGC, employee advocacy and read a lot about being authentic. The next question by Violeta hits the nail on the head — why should we stick with a single platform for all of these tasks and how does it make our lives easier? Aliza, who is a Sprinklr user, helps clear this doubt. 

She begins with a word of caution regarding third-party programs. “Whenever someone comes to me and says, ‘Can I please have your opinion on a third-party advocacy program?’ I'm like just don't bother walking yourself down that road. Because it's such a headache.” She stresses the need to be careful because handling multiple platforms can be challenging. 

Her thoughts echo the sentiment of many in her position – a unified platform like Sprinklr can simplify your life by streamlining all your tasks and processes. Having all of your content in one place helps you stay organized and execute your strategy better.  

Using a unified platform isn't just about streamlining. “It's not even just like ‘Oh, I'm so glad I have that.’ It is an absolute necessity to have everything locked in one platform, see everything on the calendar and be able to edit from there. It just can't get better than that,” Aliza said.

Conclusion

After this chat about being real, sharing stories and using handy tools, it's pretty obvious that in today's digital world, we've got to do things a bit differently. Aliza and Violeta shared tips on being unique, balancing company and personal brands, and using metrics to measure success. Plus, they reminded us how a unified platform like Sprinklr can make our lives easier by keeping everything in one place. Afterall, it's about being authentic and smart in the digital world.

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