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Advocate generated contentWhen your organization’s communications team tells a story, it’s impactful. But when a regular person passionate about your cause tells the same story, the impact grows dramatically.

That’s because audiences tend to respond more to stories told by those they relate to. This tendency makes advocate-generated content a powerful tool for advocacy groups to tell their stories in a way that sticks. 

“User-generated content is a great source for authentic, relatable, real-life voices and stories, and it helps to humanize your advocacy message. It just makes it more real,” says Jennifer Pullinger, a communications practitioner and social media strategist. 

To harness this authenticity, advocacy groups need to develop strategies for partnering with and leveraging the influence of their supporters effectively. Here are some tips on creating advocate-generated content and maximizing its reach. 

Finding Your Advocacy Partners

One of the first steps to developing advocate-generated content is to identify the advocates you wish to work with. 

If you’re recruiting advocates for specific initiatives, such as a video series or an in-person speech, you can look through your records of past advocate activity to find people who are particularly enthusiastic about your cause. For example, VoterVoice users can consult their advocate leaderboards to find their most engaged supporters. Sending out calls for participation through your social platforms and email lists can help, too. 

Organic advocate-generated content is content that advocates make for their own social media platforms either unprompted or in response to a campaign, and this doesn’t require that you identify advocates up front. But you still need to find this content and vet which posts you want to re-share. Social listening and the use of cause-specific hashtags can help here, as can watching the social accounts of people who have already proven to be dedicated supporters in the past. 

However you find advocates, it’s important to make sure their values are aligned with your organization’s. You may wish to take a closer look at their past campaign behavior or interview them to make sure they’re a good fit for your message. If advocates are going to deliver an authentic message, their passion needs to be authentic, too. 

Collaborating with Advocates

Certain advocacy activities require training, so don’t hesitate to provide advocates with resources or even an advocacy curriculum to train them. 

Advocates may join your campaigns already having ideas about what they want to say to your supporters. Since they have real-life experiences with the issues you’re campaigning about, their input can be highly valuable. Even though you have the final say in how you run your campaign, it’s a good idea for an advocate to have the final say in what their message is. 

“My main tip would be to ensure that the advocate’s voice is at the front, that the campaign is really telling the advocate’s story first and foremost,” advises Mark Fisher, director of advocacy engagement at the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). “Because they are the experts on their story, and that’s what will cut through the noise. If it doesn’t seem like the focus of the campaign was on the advocate, it will scream inauthentic.” 

Ideas for Advocate-Generated Content

Once you’ve found your advocates and discussed your campaign together, there are many content types you can create together. Here are a few options for you to consider:

Social media

Social media for advocate-generated contentOne of the easiest ways to leverage advocate-generated content is through social media. A social advocate-generated campaign can be as simple as encouraging your followers to make posts related to your campaign, tagged with a particular hashtag. 

You may also come across social media posts about your cause that were made completely organically. These serendipitous occasions are impossible to plan for, but it’s important to capitalize on them by re-sharing. 

“When an organization re-shares that user-generated content, it not only amplifies the message but also helps people feel seen, heard, and acknowledged,” Pullinger says. “And it helps to even further build community and loyalty in support of a cause.” 

Professionally developed advocate-generated content should be shared on social media as well. In addition to sharing this content on your social platforms, encourage your advocate partners also to use their platforms for greater reach. “If you have someone who might be an influencer in your community, they can share on their own platforms, and then it can take off,” Fisher says. 

Video content

Video content has become particularly popular thanks to the rise of TikTok, and it’s a great way to attach a relatable face and voice to your cause. 

For example, Fisher created a highly successful video series documenting the challenges of air travel with muscular dystrophy. This subject was chosen because it was a topic advocates were already passionate about, making it possible to tell their stories authentically and passionately on camera.

In addition to the usual resources needed for a video project, Fisher says creating videos with advocates also requires treating the advocates as “executive producers” with control over how their stories are presented. This ensures the unique voice that gives advocate-generated content its value is preserved in the final product. 

Contacting legislators

A request for legislator contacts is typically more impactful when it comes from a peer rather than an organization. Asking advocates with large social followings to spread the word about campaigns to contact legislators can give these campaigns greater reach, especially when timed alongside major news coverage related to your cause or a vote on an important bill. 

You can also make legislator contacts the call-to-action of a larger advocate content project. For example, MDA’s air travel video series resulted in 5,600 people sending messages to Congress, according to Fisher.

Measuring Success

Measuring the success of advocate-generated content means tracking engagement and policy impacts. High levels of social engagement or actions taken tell you that a piece of content was successful, and it can inform your content strategy going forward.

“If a user created this amazing piece of user-generated content and it gets way more likes than anything you’ve ever created in-house, then you know that maybe next time you need to go in this direction with creating your in-house content,” Pullinger says. “It gives you a little bit of inspiration.” 

To show the value of your work to internal and external stakeholders, VoterVoice users can compare content’s success against past campaigns, as well as against broader industry benchmarks. Some A/B testing, such as testing your content on different platforms or in different formats, can also provide useful data on exactly what makes advocate-generated content successful. Once you have your raw data, you can use a platform like VoterVoice to help visualize it so the whole team can interpret it.

Work with Your Advocates to Tell Your Story

Your most passionate advocates want a platform where they can speak out about your cause — and your cause needs the voices of passionate supporters. By working together, you can create a win-win situation that could ultimately lead to tangible campaign success.

It all starts with identifying engaged advocates and discovering how to work together. With tools like VoterVoice’s advocate tracking and leaderboard, you can find the advocates most enthusiastic about working with you to spread your message. And with VoterVoice’s benchmarking and data visualizations, you can work with advocates to ensure your message is as impactful as possible. 

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