Over the years, a growing number of companies have been turning to social media as their preferred marketing channel, veering away from more traditional options like print, radio, and TV.
As such, interacting with customers, particularly with "brand evangelists," on social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter has become a necessary marketing tactic for many businesses.
That's because brand evangelists are the type of customers who are willing to do the legwork in spreading the good news about your product or service. They are the ones who praise, preach, and get involved in promoting your brand, whether online or off.
Though brand evangelism may be new or unfamiliar to some, it's actually one of the oldest forms of marketing. It's simply word-of-mouth.
However, 64 percent of marketing executives say word-of-mouth is the most effective marketing and 92 percent of people trust recommendations from friends and family (and even people they don't know) over brands. Studies also indicate that 74 percent of consumers rely on social media to make purchase decisions.
Finding brand evangelists
Brand evangelists are identified by their voice and passion. They champion a brand by talking about its merits on their own social platforms, whether through a blog post, video, or image. Social media gives them the freedom to spark conversations online that can inspire others to follow suit. They are the walking, talking, free marketing that might be just what you business needs to get to the next level.
Unlike celebrity endorsers or paid ads, brand evangelists are loyal and swear by a company's qualities based on their first-hand, satisfactory experience. What they say out loud is personal and authentic, making for more persuasive content.
However, finding the right brand evangelists is easier said than done, especially for companies that have thousands—or even millions—of fans and followers. Some companies take on the challenge of sifting through their social media accounts to scout for people who will best represent their brand. Others develop interactive content or support forums that jumpstart discussions among target audience while reaching out to potential customers.
Brands should also be mindful of the fact that satisfied buyers are more likely to promote a great product or service. Companies that go above and beyond in providing exceptional customer experience and address complaints efficiently tend to be top-of-mind. Having a good rewards program is also another way to create brand evangelists out of your loyal customers.
But sometimes the best brand evangelists are nearer than you think. Contented, happy employees can be successful advocates for your brand as well. Since they regularly deal with customers and can influence their buying decisions.
Cultivating brand evangelists
Transforming customers into brand evangelists doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time and effort. It begins by listening to feedback and keeping an open mind about it. Doing so lets you improve upon the good aspects of your business and remedy whatever doesn't work.
While negative feedback can be disheartening, it’s an opportunity to solve a problem and convert the naysayers. Being able to adequately solve a customers problem may invoke a sense of loyalty to your brand and convert them into new evangelists. By showing that your brand listens and believes in two-way communication, your evangelists are likely to be more vocal with their support in nearly every platform.
Encourage your advocates to talk about your brand and products, but in the process, consider putting them in the spotlight as well. By featuring their posts on the social media platform, you involve them in contributing relevant, share-worthy content for your brand. Take the case of Apple as it showcases curated images and videos taken from iPhones with the hashtag #ShotoniPhone. User-generated content, in fact, can have a significant impact on buying decisions, as compared to professionally made advertisements.
Because brand evangelism is organic and mostly done for free, it's more cost-effective than traditional forms of marketing. When done right, its returns and potential to grow your business are high.
Keep in mind that scouting for ideal brand evangelists doesn’t begin with hyping up your goods. Start by creating the best product and offering an excellent customer experience to keep your buyers highly satisfied. Sustain momentum by developing great content that’s relatable and can easily be to shared by your brand evangelists. Over time, your company can gain a strong, loyal following without spending too much.[Featured image via Pixabay]