When you think about advocates and content marketing working together to help you achieve your sales and marketing goals, the most obvious use case is getting your advocates to share your best content with their own followers online.
A few of them will, resulting in a few more views, shares and comments. Maybe a couple of them will subscribe to your blog or, if you’re really lucky, give you their information to download an eBook or get more information about your company.
Unfortunately, those results are nothing to write home about. That’s what good content marketing is supposed to do anyway, right?
But what if your advocates could get so excited about a piece of your content that they shared it with not only everyone in their organizations – from the interns to the CEOs – but also their friends and family on Facebook?
And what if it became part of their professional stories and they added a link to it on their LinkedIn profiles under Publications? And then, what if their mothers printed it out and put it on fridges and in scrapbooks to be cherished forever and ever? (OK, maybe that last one is a bit of a stretch.)
That kind of sharing is a lot harder to come by, even with amazing advocates, but it’s not impossible. All you have to do is…
Let your advocates create your content for you
No, your advocates won’t replace the content experts on your team, but user-generated content (or advocate-generated content in this case) should make their jobs a bit easier.
Consumer brands have been developing user-generated content campaigns with gusto for a while: call fans to action, offer a prize, receive submissions, and then highlight the best or winning entries.
It can be done in countless ways using a variety of different media, from tweets and Facebook posts to pictures and videos, and everything in between.
One of my favourites is Starbucks’ recent “sip face” campaign, where the coffee giant asked fans to post photos of themselves on Instagram with the hashtag #sipface in co-ordination with a half-price frappucino deal.
The best photos were then displayed in a mosaic on a microsite and some reposted on Starbucks’ own Instagram account, which has more than 1.4 million followers.
I first learned about the campaign because some of my friends – including a few Starbucks employees – were posting their own sip face photos on Instagram (and cross-posting on Facebook and Twitter). After clicking on the #sipface hashtag, I realized it was user-generated content campaign – a really, really successful one.
User-generated content for B2B
For B2B companies, especially those offering a less tangible product or service, this kind of success can be difficult to replicate. But it’s not impossible with a little imagination.
In our review of Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger, we covered the six essential factors that contribute to contagious ideas – the reasons why advocates share your content: social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical and stories.
One of those factors – “practical” – explains why your advocates are the perfect people to help you develop your content. It’s a part of our human nature to want to give advice, share tips and help others. That’s why advocates post comments, reply to tweets, submit product reviews and answer emails with questions that, technically, aren’t in their job descriptions. They just need someone – in this case, a savvy B2B content marketer – to ask for help.
It’s a win-win-win: the advocates help you, and they also help your audience – the advocates’ peers – by sharing expertise. Then, because they’re featured in the content, they share it with everyone they know – and their mother.
B2B user-generated content examples
- Ask a question on Twitter and embed the advocates’ replies into a blog post or sprinkle them throughout an eBook
- Round up tips and tricks from your advocates’ product reviews across various review sites to create a best practices guide for future users
- Take pictures of your advocates holding a whiteboard with their advice written across at your next event
For this third example, pictured above, tech career hub Dice asked Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and other conference attendees to write their best tech recruiting tip on the whiteboard and pose for a photo, and then used the photos in blog posts, tweets and more. Altogether, these photos have amassed thousands of views and a wealth of content for Dice to draw from.