Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Recruiting an Advocate Army: Social Media and Customer Reference 5/31/2011

These are notes from International Call on Social Media for Customer Reference Professionals:

I joined dozens of customer reference professionals on the last day of May to discuss the role of social media in Customer Reference programs.

Claudia Koenig from Global Mail eXchange in Germany put together the call and we talked about building an advocate army hearing from Kerri Shea Beers on her blog post on ReferenceSuccess:

Key thoughts
Customers do not want to be pitched to: On certain LinkedIn sites the vendor is supposed to be a listener, for maintaining credibility you need to let your customers speak for you.

When a customer responds instead of the vendor the recommendation goes further.
Who do you want in the advocate army?
* A happy customer
* Active in social media, ideally, they have their own following
* You trust them

The Advocate Army is an elite group, the selected best customer advocates that you depend on.

Depending on your industry and customers, you need to find out where the conversation is happening, Are there a lot of customers commenting on blog posts? Does the bulk of the activity come from LinkedIn? Or is there a online magazine that would have the most lurkers and participants? Your advocate army can also help you find out where your customers are online.

Who owns social media in your company? This will affect the construction of this Customer Reference: Advocate Army. Different people on the call cited social media moving around a fair amount in their companies: from PR to field marketing and onward. One caller said that they knew that they can’t really own it as Customer Reference and thus it complicates this process.

What are your thoughts?

How does social media fit in with customer reference? How do you use social media to engage with customers, or any audience?

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