Sometimes, the internet seems like a sea of snake oil companies trying to scam others into buying their worthless products. This unfortunate reality of the internet has made us more vigilant and less trusting.
This is especially the case in B2B transactions, where prospective clients come looking for a solution to an important business problem.
Your prospects are looking for someone they can trust. While traditional advertising may help raise awareness, it’s no longer a driving force behind purchase decisions. Facing complex challenges and wanting to improve their own businesses, your clients are looking for recommendations from your other customers. They want social proof, and that’s where brand advocacy comes in.
Here are five characteristics of an advocate community that will help your brand grow.
#1. Industry Authority
There are many ways to build authority in your industry. Among the most effective is publishing quality, value-adding content. This is especially true when you’re just getting started or your primary focus is to grow your brand. After all, content that helps prospective customers gives people something to share and talk about, which has a positive impact on building industry authority.
A community which encourages the nurturing of meaningful relationships is another crucial asset for building brand authority. By rewarding your most valuable members and curating branded and user-generated content, you’ll gain a wealth of value to build authority in your niche.
#2. Constructive Feedback
Online communities can make or break a business. Gone wrong, they can become a major liability that turns would-be brand advocates away in droves. These are abandoned or poorly managed communities in which there’s no incentive for constructive participation.
A strong advocate community is driven by the quality of its user-generated content – even when it includes constructive criticism. A great community rewards its best members through gamification and formal recognition, thereby inspiring others to also post value-adding content.
#3. Strong Problem-Solving Skills
In B2B enterprises, online communities tend to combine the features of community hangouts, knowledge bases and peer-to-peer support. That’s why the best advocate communities exhibit the strong problem-solving skills of both members and employees of the company.
For B2B customers, the availability of prompt and ongoing support is one of the main drivers of purchase decisions and customer retention. This is what makes a healthy B2B support community a hotbed for brand advocacy. After all, those who are willing to help others get more out of your product or service are more likely to fiercely defend your brand.
#4. Diverse Range of Voices
A strong online community typically sees a diverse range of voices coming together to share ideas and provide their feedback. Given the anonymity of the internet and the consequent tendency of some to go off the rails, this may sound like an impossible thing to achieve.
In reality it’s not that hard if you have a rock-solid moderation team who will collaborate with people from a wide range of backgrounds. Add gamification into the mix and your community will moderate itself (to a degree) by allowing members to upvote and downvote posts.
#5. High Engagement and Retention Rates
A brand advocate is a special kind of customer. They’re not the sort to make a purchase then disappear from the scene. They’re the ones who are most loyal to your brand and would never even think about going to a competitor.
A community of brand advocates is one which enjoys both consistent engagement and regular involvement from its members. It’s not a place where the most recent post is five years old or where employees occasionally check in just to clear away the dust. It’s a virtual online venue driven by members who post regularly and feel motivated to help others (and themselves) do more with your products and services.