Your social media following, if used properly, is a goldmine for your B2B marketing efforts. The people who have actively chosen to “Like” or “Follow” may very well be the ones to take your company’s message to the masses.
Of course, you have to get them fired up, to do just that, and turn them brand ambassadors.
According to CMI’s 2016 B2B report, 77% of B2B marketers are making brand awareness their top goal in content marketing, so in order for your business to stay competitive, you’ll need to optimize your brand awareness strategy. One of the best ways to do this is to turn your social followers into brand ambassadors. By implementing smart relationship-building tactics to identify advocacy opportunities, getting your followers to “sell” your brand for you will be a cinch.
Here are five steps for taking your social followers and transforming them into spokespeople for your brand.
1. Reward Your Followers in Small Ways
Anyone who has a kid (or a dog) knows that a great way to reinforce “good behavior” is by giving a reward. So when your social followers show slightly more than the average amount of engagement within your social posts, reward them!
Use a good social media marketing tool to assess how much certain social followers are engaging with your posts. Perhaps some are constantly retweeting your blog links, asking questions on Facebook, or writing more than just one or two sentences in reply to you in a LinkedIn group. Those individuals are prime targets for you to bestow rewards on.
Rewards can be small and common-sense, like following back those who follow you, making a point to engage once one of your followers opens up discussions with you. Or maybe something bigger, like asking their opinion in other discussions, or tagging them in relevant blog posts.
2. Reward the Most Engaged Followers in Even Bigger Ways
Rewards can be big as well, and should be reserved for your most loyal followers, who have built up a social media “friendship” with your brand over the course of weeks or months. Perhaps, depending on the nature of your B2B products and services, you can offer early access to new features or invite them to participate in beta releases. If you happen to be in the same geographic location, you might also invite them to an office meeting or networking events focused on common professional interests and goals.
Building relationships, and solidifying them through consistent engagement and rewards, is a great way to get your followers thinking about how they can help you in return.
3. Let Followers Create Your Content For You
Even after you’ve developed solid relationships with your social followers, they still might not immediately take the next step of spreading your brand message organically. So, spread the word about them. How to do this? Let them be your partners in creating content.
By sourcing user-generated content (USG) from your social media followers, they’ll become increasingly connected and interactive with your brand. This means great things for your lead generation, because 92% of consumers trust “earned media,” including peer recommendations, above advertising. And, as they produce content that enhances your brand’s profile, they get more exposure themselves. It’s a win-win for all involved.
There are several key ways to source UGC, making both your content creation work easier and creating fertile ground for brand ambassadors to rise:
- Curate the content of your most engaged followers. Content curation is a great way to extend your content marketing efforts efficiently. Look among your social media followers and take note of the most talented and prolific publishers—in the B2B realm, many are likely using social to build their own brands. Using your content curation tool, once you’ve identified a blog post, video, or other content piece that fits with your brand message, add it to a queue of pieces you’ll feature in a blog post.
- Source content from your fans directly as guest bloggers. Again, after identifying a follower who exhibits high levels of engagement with your company, invite him or her to do an exclusive guest blog post for you. This can only help build that follower’s audience, as well as create opportunities to draw him or her into familiarity with your brand, taking advantage of the reciprocity principle. Of course, it doesn’t have to be just a guest blog—it might be an “interview” style piece consisting of questions about a burning industry issue, or a video blog about that person’s take on your brand’s primary offers.
- Collect insights from social media engagements and turn them into content. Has someone said something particularly enlightening in a LinkedIn post? Did they tweet you with a relevant article? If so, use those nuggets of information in some of your new blog and social media content. Give credit, of course, to those social followers of yours that first brought the new info to your attention.
After you’ve established a rhythm of sourcing content from your followers, you’re introducing mutual benefits into the relationship that will go a long way towards their eagerness to talk up your brand on your behalf.
4. Form Real-World Connections
The final step in getting your social followers to be brand ambassadors: get to know them in the real world.
Real-world connections can be extremely powerful and beneficial for any B2B brand. Rather than just being a brand name behind an office building, people will get to know you as real live human beings who are passionate about a product or service. While you shouldn’t just make real-world contact with influencers, connecting with people on social that already have a powerful platform and marketing savvy themselves can work wonders for your brand.
Here are a few of ways you can build visibility through real-life alliances with your most active social media followers:
- Host webinars together. The next time you put on a webinar or other informative video content for your customers, invite relevant professionals you’re connected with socially to participate. Especially if potential customers see their peers sharing valuable knowledge while enhancing your brand’s image, they’ll be much more likely to convert.
- Attend industry conferences and networking events with them. Invite your high-profile followers along to industry networking events. At in-person events, your marketing staff plus an influencer make an unbeatable combination for your brand visibility.
- Offer speaking engagements on your home turf. Do some of your social followers have a peculiar expertise in processes or technologies that are relevant to your employees? Have them over to your office to host a meeting for your company.
Getting out into the real world with your highest-profile social followers is what will take your brand visibility to the next level.
5. Form Strategic Partnerships and Joint Ventures with Brand Ambassadors
For your highest-value relationships, take things to a new level: bring them into your business with proposals for a joint venture or partnership. Think about your high-profile social contacts: among them, you’ll likely find an innovator or influencer in your space that might make a great candidate for a partnership. Such an arrangement might bring your B2B brand a much bigger audience than you could have envisioned before.
B2B marketing directors should get R&D, sales and C-level executives involved in roundtable discussions about the possibilities. Once principal stakeholders see the value in extending the business in this way, you just might strike gold for your brand awareness and market share.
There you have it: 5 steps to build relationships via social media marketing that will get your brand into segments of the market you’ve never reached before. And that means more leads, more customers, and more revenue.