How to Create a Thriving B2B Advocacy Community

John Mark Troyer @jtroyer

John Mark Troyer, Director and Social Media Evangelist for VMware, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss the origins of the community surrounding VMware, the tools his team has built to allow that community to change over time, and how they encourage influencers to remain active advocates of the brand.

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Full Episode Details

Giving Back to Your Top Influencers

Back in 2003, VMware‘s online community was centered around a forum. Today, despite the fractured social media landscape, their community still has one central home on the web: the VMware Community site. This one page aggregates all of the data from Twitter, Facebook, blogs, the community forums, and any other place online where VMware chatter might be going on.

John’s social team’s DNA is based in technology and support, so they build all of these tools themselves. It’s a small team – just 6 people in a company of 15,000 – that manages the whole social advocacy arm of the business.

VMware has a comprehensive way of thanking their top influencers; they created the VMware vExpert program. They looked for the people who were passionate about giving back to the VMware community, then sought them out to acknowledge, and ultimately reward, them.

These days, VMware recognizes about 750 influencers every year by giving them access to beta tests and making sure they have more direct access to the product teams. They attend private networking events as a thank you from VMware because their feedback is invaluable.

“It’s an award program, it’s an enablement program, it’s a networking program, it’s a feedback program, and then, of course, occasionally we do some marketing,” John says. “We brief them before all of our product releases and we’d like them to blog and talk about the products as well.”

Social Media Number of the Week: 59

The percentage of seniors who go online these days might be higher than you think: 59% according to a recent Pew report. This begs the question: is social media, in its current incarnation, serving the senior population?

Some social networks, notably Twitter, are particularly inscrutable for new users, whereas others are more intuitive. There may never be a major seniors-only social network, though, because of the reasons seniors are joining these social networks: it’s mostly to connect with younger family members.

Nick says, “The only reason she [joined] is because honestly the grandkids and my parents and my aunts and uncles, they’re posting photos and they’re sharing all these experiences.” Nick’s grandmother doesn’t want to be left out.

Holy Social!

How far down can you bury your call to action? If you’re American Greetings, you can try burying it all the way at the end of a 4-minute video. Introducing the #worldstoughestjob.


The video is catching everyone’s attention leading up to Mother’s Day, but it’s especially intriguing for marketers. If you took the American Greetings logo off of the video, you might never know it was put together by a card company.

This whole idea of the hidden camera catching a special experience has been catching on, from Dove’s new Patches campaign to the Pepsi MAX Jeff Gordon test drive video. These campaigns are designed to turn heads and generate discussion, but it seems like the most successful campaign would be the one to drive long-term engagement with the brand.

So far, American Greetings’ hope that the emotional video would catch on has certainly played out well. Will they be able to spin it into a platform, or something that people come back to? Or will this be another one-off ad campaign?

See you next week!

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