B2B marketing companies have always used advocacy strategies. Account members suggest clients recommend services to their friends. Companies hand out merchandise at trade shows with company logos in hopes people will display them. Managers reward employees for bringing in new contacts.
Social media helps turn advocacy tactics from back-burner ideas to a primary means of B2B lead generation. The ability to connect with multiple audiences online with speed and simplicity means anyone can share content. B2B marketers must recognize the value of customer and employee advocates and develop strategies to encourage and promote sharing.
Customer advocates for content marketing
B2B lead nurturing isn't over once the sale is made. Marketers must keep an active relationship with leads after they are converted into clients. Satisfied customers sharing content and stories on social media create promotional materials that directly appeal to similar audiences.
- Trustworthy B2B marketing – People trust their peers. A Gartner survey found 60 percent of businesses look to advice from similar sized companies in their industry when deciding on a technology provider (1). The survey participants were much more likely to trust customer recommendations than company sales reps or websites. Customer advocates for a company speak from experience. They may have the same issues, amount of capital and business needs as potential clients.
- Create a professional network on social media – Social media pages usually feature tools for connecting different people together. Clients who share your content can connect to other satisfied customers. The Chicago Tribune said each client may use services in a particular way, and linking numerous examples together makes it easier for audiences to find the story that appeals to them. B2B companies can create events to show appreciation for their clients (3). During these get-togethers, business partners can present awards or other forms of recognition to customers who really excelled at social media sharing.
- Gauge success of content marketing – B2B marketing teams must create plans for how to encourage social media sharing among their clients. Some content, however, may be so enticing or interesting that satisfied customers endorse it without any outside influence.Tracking what materials are freely shared by customers demonstrates what content is most effective. A company should reach out to a B2B marketing agency to help analyze the online actions of their current customers to learn how to attract similar audiences.
Employee advocates for content marketing
The people who work in the company are another group of advocates B2B marketing strategists can utilize. Most employees are already on social media and businesses can provide them with materials to share.
- Cost-effective (and fun) – MarketingProfs said companies often turn to employee social media advocacy to allocate resources (3). It could take forever for a single person to share materials across social channels; getting the entire workforce onboard is much more effective. Employees who share content – or appear in content like online advertising videos – get to promote themselves and their vital role in the industry. Companies can also make it fun by offering prizes or incentives for weekly online performance success.
- Multiple angles – Inbound marketing is about providing customers with a variety of information. Employees from different departments may speak from unique parts of the business process. Company representatives should speak from personal experience, but also have access to marketing tactics that direct contacts to other materials and further B2B lead nurturing.
- Transparent B2B marketing – Employees who talk directly to potential clients provide a glimpse at the actual corporate culture. While the social media content may be on brand, the message shouldn't be chock full of slogans or other artificial communications. It's a chance for audiences to speak directly to the human beings they will work with it they decide to come on board.