advocates_it_professionals_personaAs a marketer, you would never treat two distinct customer segments the same. So why would you treat all of your brand’s advocates alike?

Engaging your enthusiastic customers, employees and partners from different sectors should require unique, personalized tactics. For instance, what appeals to an HR professional will likely not entice a developer to participate in your advocate marketing program.

In this multi-part blog series, we’re walking you through how to engage advocates in several key professions.

Here are the best practices for creating higher engagement among the unsung heroes at many companies: information technology (IT) professionals.

Who is the IT Professional?

While we want to avoid making generalizations, there is extensive research that suggests IT professionals prefer to remain behind-the-scenes instead of in the spotlight. A recent study published by the Canadian Center of Science and Education in Computer and Information Science entitled Distinctive Personality Traits of Information Technology Professionals notes that IT pros tend to be less assertive than others, and have a stronger propensity towards shyness and reticence.

That said, their knowledge base is vast, their skill set is unmatched, and their work is integral to the functioning of any company. IT professionals are generally very comfortable with, and have a thorough understanding of, a wide variety of technologies. They are also always hungry to learn more, contribute their ideas and receive recognition—as long as they remain under the radar.

However, they have tremendous influence, and can become valuable advocates for your brand; you just need to learn to speak their language.

Addressing their concerns

IT pros typically have four main concerns: security, staying out of the limelight, feeling valued, and only engaging in meaningful conversations.

Security is everything

They want to ensure their personal data is kept safe, so it’s important that you clearly communicate how their personal information will be used, and assure them that nothing will be published without their consent. Full and open disclosure will go a long way with this persona.

Put a dimmer on the reward light

The Institute for Management Excellence found in a 2003 study found that while one-quarter of the general population can be considered introverted, 67% of computer professionals fall into this category. That’s not surprising since most of their tasks require solitary work, like writing and editing code.

In spite of this, they still appreciate recognition. Find ways to reward IT pros that don’t blare a shining spotlight on them, but will let them know that their work, knowledge, and expertise is valued.

Let them be in charge

If you are trying to solicit your audience for product feedback, ask them to dictate the direction of the product’s future. Let them be in charge. Stress that you are interested in their personal opinions. Make your surveys specific, and show you are aware of their advanced expertise.

Make them laugh

While IT professionals are used to technical jargon, they also appreciate a bit of light humour and enjoy when some quirky, “geeky” fun is thrown into the mix—as long as it’s engaging and interesting. For example, present the longstanding debate of Star Wars vs. Star Trek and watch everyone excitedly weigh in.

“Our customers are almost exclusively in the IT industry and we’ve learned that while they are obviously very technologically savvy and have a tendency to be a bit introverted, they also seem to appreciate a little humor,” says Andria Kelzenberg, Digital Marketing Specialist at Arrow S3. “They see a lot of ‘technical verbiage’ on a regular basis, so they respond well to being treated like an actual human.”

The bottom line: keep it light

Your key challenge with this persona is understanding how to speak their language, and showing them that their skills are recognized, and viewpoints valued. But remember: you must accomplish this in a subtle way. That doesn’t, however, mean you can’t have some fun with it, too.

New eBook series: Engaging Your Advocates

covers-graphicThis new eBook series, which will be released throughout early 2015, explores the art and science behind engaging advocate marketing programs, including:

  • Insight into the advocate persona (e.g., IT, HR, sales, etc.)
  • Key challenges and how to address them
  • How to position your asks effectively
  • Sample challenges from real advocate marketing programs
  • Tips from marketers who have experience working with this persona

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