Bold Statement: The future of social media is user generated content.

The ‘Share a Coke’ campaign Coca Cola created was pure genius. It got the message out there, and then encouraged their audience to promote it even more – which we totally did. All over my feed for weeks was people drinking cokes (even those who’s loyalty lies with Pepsi) with their name on it. Especially my friends with unusual names.

So Coke spent money on advertising, and then let the people take the reigns. I don’t follow Coke on social, but everywhere I turned, it was in front of me, tempting me, making me very thirsty for a Coke. Like I said, genius.

This is a big step away from traditional advertising where the advertising company pushes the message on us, and we have no say. Now the consumers have control of the message. And we need to let them take it.

“The next wave of the Web is going to be user-generated content.” – John Doerr, Venture Capitalist.

User generated content is defined as any type of content that has been created and promoted by unpaid contributors. And it is an amazing way to get your product/service out there.

Think about it – your company is only getting in front of people by paying for advertising. But when your fans promote your stuff – by tweeting, posting pictures or shouting you out, that is where the gold is. They are unpaid advertisers – telling their social circle all about you!

So consider how you can help your fans promote your company – start a hashtag competition, give away swag, or post something that makes people want to re-post it.

User generated content costs you nothing and has an incredible ROI.