Who Writes the Most Effective B2B Social Media Content? It’s not your brilliant B2B marketing team. It’s not the CEOs and thought leaders. It’s not a dedicated content writing staff.
It’s your customers.
Content created by those who have used, or will use, your products and services stands a great chance of outperforming just about any other marketing tactic. As many as 94% of professionals in a recent survey noted that they trust content and reviews by their peers above all else. B2C companies have leveraged user-generated content (UGC) to great effect—just think of the multitude of memes, fan videos, enthusiastic blog posts, and other pieces of media extolling the virtues of household name brands like Apple and Starbucks. However, B2B marketers have every reason to take advantage of the rich customer insights and brand visibility that UGC can offer.
Here, we’ll discuss more fully what user-generated content (UGC) is, why it works, and how you as a B2B marketer can incorporate it into your social media marketing campaign to build brand awareness, boost your lead generation, and raise your revenues.
What B2B user-generated content is, and why it works
B2B UGC can be defined as any content produced by your target audience and publicly shareable among other potential customers. In the specific context of B2B social media marketing, this is content users create on social platforms around your brand and product. It can appear as text, video, images, or podcasts—any imaginable type of media.
UGC can take on any one of several forms. Perhaps the most ubiquitous example, in the B2B world is customer reviews and testimonials. Professionals who use and review B2B products and services can be great sources of valuable information for their peers. In reviews and testimonials, satisfied customers might go beyond indicating they like your product, diving into specifics such as technical details and how-to details that will attract and engage potential leads.
UGC can also exist as case studies, which can be thought of as a much more in-depth version of the customer review. Standout customers who are loyal and have been helped through a major project are often ideal contributors of case study content that will interest similar end-users.
The concept of customer advocacy also goes hand-in-hand with UGC. Going well beyond “content,” customer advocacy can comprise many pieces of media, such as videos from happy customers explaining how others can benefit from specific features of your product, or forums and communities, moderated by satisfied customers, and a broad range of activity, such as, but not limited to, presentations at events or the formation of mutually-beneficial corporate partnerships.
There are several reasons why UGC works so well:
- People are more likely to trust peers than businesses. Consumers of B2B products and services place a high emphasis on what others with similar job titles and responsibilities think about business-related products. In one survey, 64% of IT professionals claimed UGC—experience-based advice in particular—helped them solve workspace problems. An experienced professional who’s familiar with a great product is in the best possible position to sell the benefits to his or her peers.
- It demonstrates social proof and real-world connections and spreads goodwill. A broad base of high-quality UGC around a B2B brand can be proof positive that a company has earned a respectable position in the marketplace. The credibility gained from discussions around your brand will build goodwill and constitutes effective inbound marketing, often with little effort on the B2B marketer’s part.
- It improves your SEO. Content produced by B2B end users tends to be both original and keyword-rich, enabling a stronger SEO standing for your web presence as UGC is incorporated into your digital ecosystem.
- It reduces your content creation workload. The more you get end users to create positive and detailed content and spread the word about your brand, the less you’ll potentially have to worry about creating brand new content at every point in your marketing schedule.
- It enhances your content creation with rich customer insights. When you do create content, it can be more effective because of UGC. Through the content they generate, users can alert you both directly and indirectly to key psychographics of your target audiences, such as influences, motivations, and behavioral quirks expressed in the buying decision process. When you incorporate that knowledge, your content pieces will come across as more aware, more intuitive, and more authentic—not to mention delivering a greater ROI.
With all of the ways strategically-used UGC can enhance your business, it’s essential to start building it into your overall marketing approach.
Reaping the benefits of B2B user-generated content
With traditional B2B marketing, the content creation process is straightforward—put together a schedule, create the content, upload it to designated platforms and distribute it among your audience. But it can be difficult to envision obtaining UGC content from the start.
Here are a number of strategies you can execute to extract content from leads, customers, and your target audience at large:
- Get customer testimonials via surveys and specific questions through social media. Customer testimonials have an 89 percent effectiveness rating, the highest out of all types of content marketing. So if you have a large and satisfied customer base, testimonials are a great place to begin. Simply ask satisfied customers if they would be willing to share their experience with your company and how it has benefitted them. It’s simple to create an attention-getting post on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn asking fully-engaged social followers about their opinions on your services.
- Quick Tip: If you are using a tool like Intercom or UserVoice. Add an in-app message and ask users to rank a specific feature on a scale from 1 to 10.
- Continue to develop strong customer relationships through consistent social media engagement. Track your interactions and assess the quality of your relationships using social media management software as qualified leads move throughout your sales cycle. Before and after conversion, every comment, question, or review that arises is potentially valuable UGC that can turn into marketing collateral.
- Create a forum or “community” as an extension of your corporate web presence. American Express has taken and ran with the idea of creating a community. The result is the OPEN Forum—a place where entrepreneurs meet to talk about growth. You might take inspiration from this and create a similar high-level content repository (though the time and effort such a venture requires, is worth some careful forethought), or you might simply set up a LinkedIn Showcase Page or Facebook group to foster industry-related discussion among your followers.
- Be active on external forums, question-and-answer, and idea exchange websites. Your ideal customer may tend to visit and contribute to niche forums. Or, as an alternative, Quora and StackExchange are two examples of general question-and-answer sites where professionals engage each other about the finer points of industry-specific issues. Usable UGC can be often be extracted through relationships built on these sites.
- Curate content via your corporate blog and social media. Collect key content written by industry influencers—for example, blog posts and studies that can be strategically used to lead into your product’s value proposition. Share such collections as resources through blog entries, social publishing, and encouraging prospects to engage and add to discussions on the content.
- Identify your most loyal customers. Approach them for case studies and customer advocacy opportunities. That is, give your customers chances to tell their story and help out their peers, through webinars, videos, in-person networking events and the like, with your products and services as the centerpiece.
- Finally, track and measure ROI from user-generated content. Define KPIs by which you’ll directly measure ROI—comments, downloads, phone calls, conversions—and see where UGC pieces, wherever they exist in your marketing campaign, directly influence those numbers. Also, take note of where UGC has had a qualitative impact on lead engagement. Refine your tactics as necessary.
Pick and choose the tactics that make sense for your business and brand, and track the success of your UGC integration accordingly. In doing so, you’ll be able to determine the exact value of particular types of UGC to your specific marketing objectives.
User-generated content is the future
Don’t get left behind! Put the power of UGC to work within your overall content and social media strategies, and experience the greater efficiency and ROI it will bring to all of your marketing efforts.
Cover image via @bensutherland