A ‘brand evangelist’ is someone who is actively promoting a certain product, or an aspect of that product or service in the social media sphere. Brand evangelists could come in many forms; they could be your employees, customers, affiliates, etc. Regardless of whom they are or how they are related to your product, brand evangelists help create a human connection with a product and are extremely beneficial when it comes to building buzz. Brand evangelists are a marketers dream. In fact, a study conducted by Bayne and Company found that a 5% increase in customer retention can produce more than a 25% increase in your profit. Therefore, turning happy customers into brand evangelists is a very good business strategy. But how do companies convince customers not only to use their products, but to adopt their brands? What makes consumers advocate for a product and willingly accept and “own” it as part of their individual identities?
The first step is locating these potential brand advocates – which can prove daunting, seeing as there are millions of conversations happening online every day. Therefore, you must begin with simply listening. Collect and test conversations until you have established a few key search terms that are returning beneficial results. Then analyze them. One of the fastest ways to find your brand evangelists is to start marking the mentions of your brand with sentiment. You are looking for the people who really like your brand, are saying good things about it, and are recommending it to others. These people are really out there promoting you, and 9 times out of 10 they have no connection with the company whatsoever (in fact, the company most times is never even aware of them).
What to look for in a potential brand evangelist:
So you’ve found people who love your brand and who are out there talking about it – these are your potential evangelists. It’s important that you find someone who really knows what they’re talking about, who really understands the product and can talk about it with authority. For them to be effective we have to buy into the fact that they know much more about this product than I do, and based on their insights this product is going to be a good choice for me.
Potential brand evangelists have to be very active in social media. They must be someone who has a big reach, and a good following. They have to be very active conversationalists. They can’t be someone who’s constantly on the soap box or someone who’s controlling the conversation. You don’t want someone who just moves in on the conversation and completely takes it over, because that will alienate people more than anything.
Converting customers to brand evangelists:
Oftentimes it can be small things that convert a happy customer into a brand evangelist. If someone has a really outstanding experience they are going to want to tell others about it. This is particularly true if it is a constant experience. It’s not hard to have the “best cookie in the world” one time, but can the bakery do that every single day? That’s when you’re going to find people who start raving about your product. Therefore when that happens consistently, and time after time the product is outstanding and/or the service is outstanding, that’s something that will turn people into brand evangelists.
It’s important for businesses to remember that every interaction leaves some kind of impression, and oftentimes it’s the little things – good or bad – that people remember the most. For example, if you’re serving food to somebody it could be things like: did you clean the table? Is everything perfect? All of those leave an impression, and online is where people are talking about it. Hence, in order to get more positive conversations happening about your brand online you need to start internally and ensure your business is producing happy customers.
Once you find these happy customers you need to help them become brand evangelists. Very often all it takes is just a little bit of attention. It’s amazing how far showing them a little love can go. You need to acknowledge them and show them that you’re listening and that you’re interested. Oftentimes in life, very few people get acknowledged for what they do, so just doing so can make a big difference.
Another important method of turning customers into brand evangelists is by giving them something that will help increase their visibility within their own groups/communities. In social media today it is important to remember that your audiences have audiences of their own (who also have audiences, and so on), and they are all looking for more content. Therefore, you need to give them something that would raise their visibility, and bring them more readers/traffic. Help them by supplying value – which could mean giving them insider access and doing things like giving them content, or perhaps access to your experts.
It’s important that, on your search for brand evangelists, you don’t forget to look internally. Oftentimes you’re likely to find brand evangelists right under your nose within your company. Many times your employees know the company and the product much better than anybody else, and they often are people within the company who are very passionate about the company they work for and the product that they make or sell.
When you turn loyal customers into brand evangelists they really become passionate and they are very loyal and very supportive. They help spread your key messages into important communities and, consequentially, the reach goes beyond just the fans – you’re reaching their friends and their followers as well. But you have to enable them by giving them the content and the tools to go out and tell your stories about the latest things that are happening, their exclusive experience, what they’ve seen happening in the company, why this company is so different, etc. Once you give them the stories, it becomes their personal stories, and not only will they share them, they will become your biggest fans online.