Why Your Online Community Is Not An Advocate Marketing Strategy

Engage customer advocates with an advocate marketing program.

What’s the difference between an online community strategy and an advocate marketing program?

As the VP of Marketing at Influitive, it’s a question I get all the time when I’m talking to people about what we do.

Today, you may have an online community running on a platform such as Lithium, Jive or Get Satisfaction, or on a social network like LinkedIn.

The goal of that community strategy, for many companies, is typically to reduce costs, such as tech support. Within your online community, you likely have “IT mavens” sharing best practices or answering technical support questions about your product. You may also use your community to get your partners and employees engaged, and keep them up to date with what’s going on at your company.

Now, if you’re a social media marketer, you may think about the idea of a “community” in a much broader way. To you, your community is those people on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter who are following your brand, sharing your content and engaging with you. Your strategy there, of course, is to increase your reach and engagement.

So how is that different from an advocate marketing program?

The key difference is the advocates themselves. Advocates are motivated in very different ways from the people who just follow you on social media or exchange best practices in your community.

Advocates believe in your company and your vision, and they love your products and services. They want to help your company succeed. That’s why they need a dedicated advocate marketing program.

Community Strategy vs Advocate Marketing Program

An advocate marketing program provides advocates with opportunities to help:

  • Enhance your REPUTATION
  • Increase your DEMAND generation
  • Accelerate your PIPELINE

What types of opportunities are those? Remember, your advocates aren’t just in it for themselves. They get a kick out of helping you and others achieve business and professional goals.

Your customer advocates want to:

  • Refer names of other businesses that can use your products and services, serving up the highest-quality leads you can get
  • Provide great sales references that help you close deals
  • Contribute to blogs and provide authentic content that you can share via social media
  • Speak about your company and products at industry events
  • Be speakers at your user group programs
  • Provide testimonials, video recordings and quotes to put on your website
  • Help you build phenomenal customer case studies
  • Write 5-star product reviews on any one of the dozens of product review sites out there
  • Talk to media and analysts on your behalf

You may be asking your customers to do these things already, but chances are that they’re not doing them in an organized fashion. That’s what an advocate marketing program provides – a way to organize, mobilize and recognize your best advocates.

Are online communities and advocate marketing programs complementary?

Yes, they very much are. In fact, you may find that some of your customer advocates are already in your communities or following you on social media.

However, in those two places, they’re not getting the opportunities they want and recognition they deserve. And that’s why you need an advocate marketing program to complement your current community strategy.

How do you see your online community supporting your advocate marketing strategy?

The Advocate Marketing PlaybookDownload The Advocate Marketing Playbook to access your “getting started” worksheet

The Advocate Marketing Playbook provides marketers with a blueprint from which to build and manage a successful advocate marketing program; it’s a detailed “how-to” guide based on proven best practices.

Get it now

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