When it comes to social media, what’s the number one goal of most B2B marketers? It’s brand awareness. That shouldn’t come as a surprise since social media is great for getting on the radar, building trust, and staying top-of-mind with prospective customers before they’re ready to buy.

But there are two problems with this goal.

The first is that it makes a BIG assumption that the brand awareness you’re creating with social media is positive. This may not be the case if you’re only using social to share company updates and promote demand generation offers. Simply put, making it all about YOU doesn’t create positive brand awareness.

The second problem is that brand awareness isn’t enough anymore. We’re all too busy, wading through too much content, and too cynical to engage with your social media just because we may be familiar with your company’s brand. Yes, it’s sad but true.

Make it about advocacy

So, if you’re struggling to grow your company’s social following and see low engagement rates then it’s probably time to focus on advocacy instead of brand awareness. That is, if you’re looking for better social media results!

Not sure what I mean by advocacy?

I’m talking about getting prospects, customers, and influencers to have a positive impression of your brand so that they WANT to hear what you’re up to, share your content, recommend you to others, and yes, buy from you when the timing is right.

How do you make it about advocacy and not brand awareness? Start by doing these five things:

1.  Share other people’s content

This seems like a no-brainer but I still come across B2B marketers that resist this idea. There are lots of good reasons to share other people’s content beyond showing it’s not all about you. For instance, if you share helpful articles written by industry publications and relevant influencers then you’re signaling to target buyers that you have their best interests at heart. What does that do? It builds trust, which is the foundation of advocacy.

2.  Acknowledge and thank others

Look for opportunities to acknowledge and thank prospects, customers, and influencers for following the company handles, sharing brand content, and commenting on posts. It’s not only easy but feels good, too! Want to show that you’re listening and value what other people have to say? Give them a high-five on their content, and respond promptly to any social media inquiries. Do this on a daily basis and advocacy will follow.

3.  Think engagement NOT broadcast

Don’t view your followers and fans as a captive audience waiting for you to broadcast your one-to-many communications. Instead, think community, think one-to-one communications, and think engagement. Tap into LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook platform analytics to see which posts and content generate the most likes, shares, clicks, comments, etc. And then incorporate those insights into your social approach. Just remember, a highly engaged audience is much more apt to advocate your brand.

4.  Keep it human

Let everyone see there are real folks behind the social media curtain. After all, we’d rather deal with people not corporations, right? Keep posts conversational and use emoiji to show some personality. Share posts that highlight employees and showcase your company’s culture. And when responding to customer complaints always stay friendly and empathetic. The more human you can make your brand on social media the more likely people will advocate it.

5.  Advocate others

What’s the easiest way to get others to advocate you? Advocate them first. So set up a Twitter list of your top customers and prospects, and also follow them on LinkedIn. Now monitor their social feeds on a regular basis and look for opportunities to give them a shout-out. Go the extra mile by drafting custom messages when congratulating so that they sit up and take notice. Do this on a regular basis and they’ll look to return the favor. Advocacy in action!

And here’s a final bonus tip: don’t limit advocacy to your social community… get an employee advocacy program going, too!

Now it’s your turn

What are you doing to generate advocacy? What’s working or not for you? Feel free to share your comments below.