A few years ago when BB and CC Creams first began to be introduced into the beauty market, I was curious about these letter-clad would be miracle products, but nervous to try them out. But soon my best girlfriend began raving about how much she loved her new CC Cream, and one of my favorite bloggers mentioned a BB cream that she had become enamored with, and before I knew it, I was tiptoeing to my local drug store. I picked up Maybelline’s Dream Fresh 8-in-1 Beauty Balm and I haven’t stopped using it since.

We are constantly being influenced by the opinions of the people we trust. How often have you seen a friend post a request for a recommendation for a doctor, or restaurant, or nightclub on Facebook? Think about how bloggers have become such strong digital influencers. It is because people trust other real people with real opinions to help them make decisions.

So by now you’re wondering: is there a way that my brand can take advantage of this referral mindset? And the answer is absolutely, “Yes”!  The people who already use your product or service, and who genuinely love it and rave about it to their friends and neighbors and on social media are your brand’s besties—and its secret marketing weapon!

How User Generated Content Can Increase Buy-in to Your Brand

Your target audience looks to people they trust in their networks for referrals and recommendations. They want to hear from people who look like them, or like the same things that they like, or have something that they aspire to for honest assessments of the features and benefits of a beauty product they’re considering checking out. You can give prospective new customers what they want, while fostering a sense of community with your current customers. That sounds like a win/win to me! So now that you know the “what”, here comes the how to:

Spread Love

The easiest way to interact with user-generated content is to spread the love! When someone mentions your brand on Twitter retweet them, like their Facebook posts when your brand page is tagged and definitely make sure to double tap those Instagram photos.

You could even make it known that you will repost the most fab photos or the most creative looks on your brand’s Instagram account and you’ll have beauty divas clamoring to be featured—people love to feel like insiders and to have things to show off to their friends! You’ll get free advertising, and your customers’ social media accounts will get a little love too.

And why not share native links of unsolicited blog posts and YouTube videos that mention your brand? It’s a super easy way to show off genuine praise from a fan, and paying it forward with a blogger could lead to a meaningful partnership down the road. Whenever I approach a blogger to partner with the beauty brands that I work with, I can honestly say, “Oh my gosh, Amazing Blogger, I loved when you posted about the best colors for a bright summer pout and thank you for mentioning our <insert product here>!” because our team has honestly read, interacted with, and shared their content so we already know what they can do and how they would be a great fit. Which leads me to my next point.

Give Up Access

Get bloggers on board with your brand and let them create organic social media content that helps their audiences buy into your brand too. Send them new products first, or give them a tour of your gorgeous design studio and let them share what goes on behind-the-scenes. People feel like they know their favorite online personalities and when they see them having amazing experiences, detailing a new product tip, or spilling the tea on exclusive info, it gives them the same feeling as hanging out with their best girlfriend who has the inside track!

Work the Network

Create a custom hashtag for your brand audience and product users to apply to all their posts featuring your brand. You connect them with each other, create a sense of community, and before you know it #brandlove could become the go to spot to find makeup tutorials, see how professional makeup artists are creating looks, or to get product recommendations from the people who know the brand best. Instead of just showing off products, you are now showcasing your brand lifestyle, neatly packaged in one tiny little hashtag.

Keep it Real

I know: public, unfiltered feedback can be a scary thing for a brand. But nowadays, people want transparency; they want to see the good, the bad and the ugly based on other people’s experiences. Create a review forum for products on your website; and instead of deleting negative feedback on your social media, use those posts to demonstrate your poise and impeccable customer service. When people can see how well your company handles issues, they know they’ll be in good hands too if they ever run into one.

Now that you know how well user-generated content can work for your brand, go get busy using your new secret weapon! Your customers will thank you for it!