I recently returned from BMA’s (Business Marketing Association) annual Conference for btob marketers in Chicago. And among the many sessions offered and discussions taking place, one thing was clearly obvious to me this year – social media is no longer viewed as merely a passing trend. The marketing world – and the world at large – has accepted its legitimacy and is now just trying to figure out how to leverage it for business success.
One specific way to use social media for business particularly struck me as having tremendous value – and that is, using it to forge better relationships with customers. In turn, these good relationships can mean your customers can act as advocates on behalf of your company – telling colleagues and peers in their industry about your business.
Forrester research has revealed that three of four customers don’t trust traditional media but nine out of ten trust other customers. And ask any marketer, word of mouth recommendations are worth their weight in gold. After all it’s easy to toot your own horn, but when your customers do it on your behalf it is much more impactful.
While this is by no means revolutionary, some new research and tactics to identify our most enthusiastic and influential customers emerged at the conference that I thought were worth exploring.
The first step to identifying who the advocates are among your customer base are, is to poll them – ask how likely they are to recommend your company. Providing answers that are ranked from one to ten, ten being “highly likely to recommend”, choose only those customers that select a nine or ten to act as potential advocates.
Once you have identified your advocates ask them to write a review or testimonial, and use their own words in your marketing messages.
Another way to harness the valuable contributions of your customers via social media is to do things for them – like host online events or webinars specifically for them announcing a new product before others get to see it. Then in turn this select group of customers can then blog and tweet about it – spreading the good word among others in their industry.

Lastly, consider developing a company forum where customers can communicate amongst each other, share ideas, problem solving, etc. Merely providing a platform for them to communicate means you are demonstrating your appreciation – which can go a long way.

Do you utilize the power of your best customers through social media?

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