The News Feed is Facebook’s lifeline. From status updates to post engagement, how users engage with the News Feed and how long they stay engaged determines how many ads Facebook can display (impressions served, engagements earned) in that timeframe. The more original content a user posts, the more content available to display to their friends & family, which increases their engagement and the cycle continues.

In short, high News Feed engagement = more revenue.

Which is why, with every algorithm update, you hear iterated over and over again how Facebook’s top priority is keeping you, the user, connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to – starting with your friends & family. “Friends and family come first” is Facebook’s first News Feed core value, and it plays a huge part in informing how posts are ranked in your consumers’ News Feeds.

When it comes to creating high-ranking branded content, marketers have a huge advantage in the form of their own customer base. User-generated content featuring a brand has not only proven to generate higher engagement compared to brand-generated content, but it is optimized to rise to the top of their friends’ feeds because it aligns with the values and factors that drive Facebook’s News Feed algorithm. Here’s how user-generated branded content puts your brand in the right place, at the right time for optimal News Feed engagement

1.  Post Creator: Connecting people with their friends and family is still the driving principle of the News Feed, even to the point that if there is a post from your friends, it’s in your feed as long as you scroll long enough. If you want to consistently be on top of the feed – flip your strategy. Rather than creating lookalike audiences to scale your reach based on your target consumers, start by activating lookalike audiences from your own customer base to share content about your brand to their friends (your target customers). Also, by understanding what that audience shares about your product, what content resonates, and what drives their friends to purchase, you can then apply those learnings for a kickass display campaign.

 2.  Content Type: There are essentially five different types of Facebook posts: linked post, photo post, video post, status update (text), and reshare (sharing a post from anther user or brand). User-generated branded content can come in all forms, but the most effective for impacting post rank are photos and videos. In its last earnings call (Q4 2016), Mark Zuckerberg clearly stated that he predict video to be the next mega-trend, on par with mobile. Prioritize the creation of user-generated branded video to drive the highest engagement.

3.  Post Interactions and Network Engagement: The number of likes, reactions, comments, shares, and clicks a post earns also factors into its News Feed rank. Post interactions are one of the biggest indicators of relevance (together with click-through and time spent engaged), and are weighted more when those interactions are coming from a users’ own network. By activating the right customers to share content about your brand you’re maximizing your opportunity to generate the highest action – from both the creator and the end consumer of that content. Research suggests that 60% of consumers report that friend’s social media posts influence their purchase choices.

For these insights and more, check out our 2017 State of Facebook User-Generated Content infographic below, or get the full report, here.