In this blog we explain how communities are the perfect place to create genuine advocates for brands. And the benefits those advocates can bring to B2B businesses. This is our methodology on community.
The value of B2B communities
At the heart of any community lies the value it brings to it’s members. What that specific value is varies from one community to another. It might be that your members love having a space to get quick answers to questions, or perhaps the community has become an important place to find specific recommendations. Maybe they just like being around people who talk the same language?
Whatever it is that keeps people coming back to your community, the important thing is that they keep coming back. Right? And are therefore strengthening their allegiance with your business.
Those fans can become your best advocates.
Advocacy and B2B communities
Generating advocacy can happen in a number of ways, depending on your community, for example, many businesses find letting prospective clients and existing clients mix is a great way to educate prospects. We agree. It’s a place where they can learn about your business or services without feeling ‘salesy’, like a more organic way to nurture potential clients and strengthen your community.
This creates a virtuous circle effect, ensuring that community members are not only invested in supporting those within the community but also want to support your business.
Building a B2B community: The process
At Advocitude we tackle building communities in four phases:
Never underestimate the importance of research! Spend time exploring:
- What kind of community should you build? – audience / customers / demographic /service. We spend time getting to know who your customers are in order to help us really consider what kind of community you should build. E.g. A social media group or your own platforms
- What other communities already exist for your audience?
- Where does your audience consume content?
We are intentional about building a community that has “creating value” at its core from the very beginning. This is key to the success of any great community. Think about doing the following during this phase:
- Value proposition – this will help you to hold yourself accountable for the core values at the heart of your community, so you never stray away from its purpose.
- Processes – figure out how the community connects to Marketing, Sales and Customer Success processes and factor this into your build.
- Technology – no matter what community tech or platform you use, it’s vital you can access the data from your community to steer any strategy.
- Tracking – make sure you have a mechanism for tracking key community metrics.
Building and growing a community takes time. It’s a long game. It’s not a quick win, rather an investment that supports the growth of your business in the long term. Making sure you have a period of time allotted to growing your community means you’re testing what works and also keeping on-top of delivering value to your members. This could be 3-6 months if you have pre-existing groups but some B2B communities can take years to grow in scale and numbers.
Engagement is the key to a successful community, but engagement to us marketers might not mean the same as engagement to your members. According to Nielsen Norman Group, who conducted research on social media engagement:
- 1% are the content creators
- 9% are the engagers
- 90% are the consumers
If 90% of social users are just there to consume content, the same logic can be applied to a closed community. Lurkers are welcome and a strong part of any community so be sure to factor this into your metrics tracking and strategy.
The aim of the game might not necessarily be to encourage the 90% to engage but rather to figure out how the 90% engage and with what.
When to invest in community
Finally, knowing when to invest in your B2B community is key! There are key considerations to factor in, for example:
- Does your marketing focus on demand gen already?
- Do you consider content such as newsletters, social media etc as community building?
- Do you already bring prospects and clients together either virtually or in person?
We’ve created a quick Community Indicator to help you figure out if now is the right time.