tech b2b buyer statsA few months ago I wrote a blog post about the differences in a brand ambassador and a brand advocate. Today I’d like to share with you an interesting study as well as a very informative interview about brand advocates.

First, let’s look at a technology B2B buyer and their online purchasing habits:
According to the 2012 Google study – tech B2B companies still rely on their peers when searching for new technology. Over 60% of them rely on peer reviews in their research. 48% of brands discovered a new technology they had not heard of through a Google search.

So knowing these facts, how does a business try to gain exposure and keep up with brand advocates so they keep singing your company praises?

Consider this article from Software Advice called Brand Advocates: The Greatest Resource You Never Knew You Had from Derek Singleton interviewing Craig Rosenberg from the funnelholic. Rosenberg gives us some great advice about working with brand advocates. Don’t have much time? No problem – I’ll break down the key takeaways for you!

Begin to identify existing advocates and know the 3 customer personas:
Rosenberg breaks down advocates to the following 3 groups; Socially active customers, Peer problem solvers, and Customer references. The key to each of these groups is to identify who they are and how to find them. All of my client campaigns rely on listening via Social Media sites. Twitter is one of my personal favorites for identifying brand advocates. I guarantee it’ll be one for you too once you unleash the power of listening!

Try searching twitter for your company name, a product or even just your website domain. Who is already talking about you? Be sure to listen, find them and start to interact with them. Online communities and forums are a gold mine of brand advocates! Don’t forget to ask your sales team. I guarantee that your sales team is already active with brand advocates – why not take that engagement into the online world?

How do you encourage participation with your online community?
The old adage “If you don’t ask, you don’t get” rings very true for online community participation. It’s important to remember that too many “asks” become daunting… take the advice from Craig Rosenberg who says:

“Start off with a set of 10 to 15 easy asks that you can rotate between customers to encourage participation. “A couple of these can be big, like writing a blog post, but you really want to start your brand advocates off with small asks, such as following you on Twitter, leaving a comment on your blog or signing up for your LinkedIn or Facebook group [to ease them into the program],”

What kind of rewards work well for brand advocates?
Don’t always assume that financial rewards are the key to a brand advocates heart. While this may work with some – you run the risk of getting those “deal seekers” with no actual long term advocates. Rosenberg suggests these 5 ideas for business to business consumers:

1. A handwritten note goes a long way! That personal acknowledgement can mean a lot!
2. Offer a sneak peek to your product before it’s announced to the general public
3. Provide premium access to a product or service just for your brand advocates
4. Allow one-on-one access to the CEO or other executives to this core group
5. Give a badge or some sort of special token that recognizes their skills and valuable input

There you have it …. some great advice! I hope this information helps you develop your online brand community!