If your B2B company has been diligent in its product research, sales relationship and customer service development, it has developed a core group of fans. These fans love your products and services, and would gladly recommend them to their co-workers, clients and business contacts.
In the music business, street teams have long been an invaluable group of superfans that papers cities with upcoming concert flyers, spreads the word about new albums and recruits friends as new fans. Your B2B fans can act in a similar way in the online space, retweeting brand news, suggesting your B2B company for friends’ business needs on LinkedIn or tagging your company in a Facebook page status update.
Social media allows for B2B companies to locate, empower and task those fans on a direct level, without the go-between wall of media, email marketing or advertising. But before you can reward these fans and ask them to advocate on your B2B company’s behalf, you must first figure out who they are and where they interact with others online. Here are five ways to locate your B2B brand’s biggest supporters:
1. Use services designed to tune into online conversations
Find conversations about your brand using free services such as Kurrently, which tracks keywords on both Twitter and Facebook. If your B2B social media team has already set up an RSS feed using Twitter’s search engine or specific search term columns in applications such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, keep an eye on users who post frequently about your brand. Build an internal list of users who frequently share information around your company, individual products or management, or interact often with your social media posts. Additionally, be sure to actively check in with these followers to build relationships beyond sales and promotions.
2. Review your blog comments
Advocates and fans of your B2B company are likely to be engaged on your company blog and are the ones leaving comments. This is true with any blog that receives even just a few comments. There are people who regularly post comments because they are engaged with your company. Since most commenting functions require an email address, it is easy to contact them and start the advocate conversation. If you are not encouraging blog comments by asking a question at the end of every blog post, here’s another reminder that you should be doing that.
3. Simply ask
You never know if you don’t ask. If you’re already engaging on social media, send out feelers to your current followers. Schedule regular tweets that let followers know you’re looking to share insider information with people who want to be the first to know your B2B company’s news and get exclusive social media-only information, discounts and announcements.
4. Gather social media information from other marketing segments
If people are engaged enough with your brand to sign up for your email list, chances are they’ll also want to follow along on social media. Incorporate optional fields such as “Twitter handle” and “LinkedIn profile URL” into the sign-up process, and ask current registrants if they would like to be part of the action.
5. Take offline fans online
Be sure to leverage “real life” fans. Use face time at meetings, conferences and networking events to identify your B2B company’s fans, and carry those connections into the online world as well. Ask your B2B public relations, customer service and sales teams for positive media, customer and client encounters that could be continued and shared online.
Just like building an effective media list is key to pitching the right media contacts, identifying your B2B company’s online fans is important and takes time. Only after you have built a list of your company’s online fans, sorted them by their specific interests and engaged with them beyond the normal sales pitch can you begin crafting strategies and tactics to leverage those real – albeit online – relationships with you company’s fans.
How do you locate your B2B company’s biggest fans?