How to Nurture and Engage Your Advocate Community?
Generally, a community is a group of people connected through one core element or purpose. It’s a social unit with common norms, values, beliefs or needs. Communities offer their members a safe place to network, exchange ideas, and access the resources – online or offline. Most importantly, however, it gives a sense of belonging and empowerment.
In today’s digital era, advocate communities are becoming a key focus for many B2B companies. From a marketing point of view, they are one of the strongest influencers of human behavior that drive change. By giving advocates a community management platform for interaction, where they can share mutual interests, learn, and encourage each other is a powerful resource.
From reviews and case studies to product feedback, there’s a multitude of data and information that can help you drive growth and achieve your business goals. Despite that, the efforts and processes involved in running an active online community are laborious. According to an Adobe article, 35% of online communities aren’t nurtured consistently which could mean that these will fail. The reasons behind this vary from lack of strategic planning, outdated content, and boring discussions to deficiency of ways to build relationships with other members.
So, how do you make sure your community doesn’t turn into a ghost town? Here are seven recommendations to make the most of your efforts and build a valuable advocate community:
- Create an on-boarding process for your community
If you want people to participate in your community, you have to show them why it’s essential to you and what’s in it for them. The best way to do this is with a help of an onboarding process for advocates. Your goal is to create a series of key points that show advocates why the community is important. Make sure to guide them through the process of creating a profile and posting their first message. A “hello, my name is” type of message is a great way to break the ice and get people to introduce themselves.
- Understand your audience and what you want them to do
Community advocacy can drive pivotal change in your organization, so understanding that is key. If you want to get advocates to take a specific action, you need to deliver the message in a clear and concise way.
- Be genuine and human
Don’t forget that advocates are humans too, so the last thing you want to do is to appear unrealistic. Use the type of language that connects with your audience, be there for them by nurturing quality relationships, and show how appreciative you are of their support and participation.
- Be creative, but keep the conversation relevant
Customer advocates do not join your online community to talk about your brand. You can definitely inquire about what features they would like to see in a future product release, or ask for a testimonial, but you should always be careful about self-promotional content as it might affect your engagement in the long run. Instead, try to entertain your advocates by offering them real value. For example, you can start a discussion about their career goals, family traditions or hobbies – anything that brings them together. The more common ground they find, the more they will value the community and return there more frequently.
You could ask them directly what they want to talk about, what they need help with or what they are curious to learn more about. That way you’ll be able to create relevant and targeted content that captures their attention.
- Encourage regular interaction
Contests and challenges are great tools for stimulating activity and engagement in your advocate community. Take the time to moderate community discussions by giving them new things to comment or debate on. Make sure to organize video events and user group meetings, because despite all the digital communication tools of today, nothing beats a good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction.
- Spend time in the community
It’s important that people perceive the participation in your advocate community worthy of their time, especially in the beginning of their journey. When somebody posts something and doesn’t receive a reply, your community takes a step back. And even though one step back won’t bring much damage, if this becomes a pattern than your engagement might eventually suffer.
Before you have your advocates as top contributors of your community, it’s your job, or that of a team of advocacy specialists, to answer every post. As advocates become engaged, active and assume leadership positions, they will turn into active daily contributors.
- Recognize their contributions
Setting up a reward scheme is fundamental. It can be done via badges or reward points for the completed activities. A great way to reward and encourage positive interactions is by acknowledging it in front of the community through praise.
If you want to launch an advocate community or already have one in place, but aren’t nurturing your advocates on a regular basis, Advocacy Maven, with its team of specialists, can give the support you need. We can help with curation, moderation, and generation of fresh ideas.
Key takeaways about how to nurture and engage your advocate community:
- Building a strong community of advocates is a key process for your long-term success. By digging deep into the human mind, understanding what your customers are looking to get out of interaction with you or the members, and by applying the right advocacy strategy will make you customers a valuable asset for creating the buzz around your brand, products and services.
- Customer advocates believe in you and are interested in developing a mutually beneficial relationship, but it takes time, strategy, and nurture to build an effective advocate community that increases customer engagement and satisfaction levels.
- Advocates are a key component of a successful business. Due to their constant support, motivation and inspiration, your brand will always be in the spotlight.
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Sometimes your customer advocate is willing to give your brand a shout-out on their social media or some other public platform, but maybe they don’t really know what to say. Maybe they need a little help with the hashtags you use or with finding the exact wording that will communicate your brand story authentically.