So you’ve garnered the social media following and you’ve received a decent number of likes.
Now it’s time to turn both into what you really want: An army of brand evangelists.
Because you have nothing if you don’t have brand ambassadors.
Brand evangelists (not to be confused with celebrity endorsers) are everyday customers who promote your product and message, both online and off.
They are your super fans.
They keep your name alive in conversations, share your posts on Facebook, and value your product enough to tell their families.
That’s big stuff.
You need these people on your team because consumers value recommendations from friends and family more so than a celebrity—or worse—an advertisement.
Good news, brand evangelists cost much less than your latest ad campaign.
When you’re ready to convert your passive audience into walking endorsements, consider these four tips for success.
Give Them Something Good to Talk About
Arguably the most crucial aspect of converting an audience from passive to active is maintaining and creating value for the customer.
Your product or service must hold some meaning for others.
If it doesn’t, chances are they won’t want to advocate for it.
Get to know your customers’ interests and concerns, and think of all interaction as a relationship rather than a one-sided marketing push.
Going above and beyond in your craft doesn’t hurt, either.
Let’s face it: People wouldn’t keep buying iPhones or MacBooks if Apple products were subpar.
Apple evangelists are loud and proud because, yeah, their products rock.
Apple is an industry (and cultural) leader that continually addresses product issues, makes improvements and, for better or for worse, gives us tech-FOMO.
Brand advocacy isn’t an item on a checklist, rather a point to continually assess.
Your marketing success is contingent on providing value for others, so make sure you lead this charge.
It all comes back to you.
Start at Home
Your employees are your first line of brand evangelists.
If your employees are excited about your brand, and genuinely want to share your brand’s story with others, your audience will follow.
Plus, employees are the first point of contact with customers.
If they are unhappy, any interaction with customers (particularly dissatisfied customers) is more likely to be negative.
On the contrary, if employees are happy, they can help fix a negative customer experience.
Brand evangelism stems from the feeling of being cared about as a person, not just as a customer.
The good feelings should radiate from the inside out.
Take note of your home base and employee-relation efforts, whether it’s in the form of training or boosting corporate culture.
Your employees are not only the face of your company, but your greatest marketing asset.
Build a Tribe of Brand Evangelists
Your brand evangelists are already out there, you just need to give them a way to come together.
Create a feeling of community to give customers a reason to become advocates.
A sense of belonging makes customers feel as though they are part of something bigger than a tangible product.
For example, KIND Healthy Snacks built a community based on the idea that small acts of kindness in everyday life can lead to lasting change in the world.
Their ambassadors are empowered to recognize people who “do the kind thing” by handing them a branded note and snack.
That woman who held the door open for you?
Give her a snack.
The man who opted to bike to work?
Give him a snack.
It’s a simple concept, but it gives the company, and its followers, a purpose more than selling a food product.
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Brand evangelists often take to social media to, well, evangelize.
Give them the support and tools they need to make their “jobs” easier—and more fun.
Videos, hashtags, creative images, funny tweets.
The goal should be to make evangelists want to share your content and participate in discussion, rather than just like your posts.
Discussion leads to connection and creating a lasting community or tribe.
Encourage evangelists to contribute online by offering incentives.
Internal motivators, in the sense of a self-esteem boost (who doesn’t love a shoutout on Instagram?) or external in the form of a giveaway, VIP discount, or bonus content, can transform an existing platform into an advantageous marketing tool.
This past holiday season, Whole Foods launched a social media campaign titled #MyHolidayTradish to encourage followers to share their family traditions (whether food-related or not) on Instagram.
From Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, they re-posted user-generated content (internal motivator) and gave away a collection of recipes and one year’s worth of groceries (external motivator).
If you’re struggling to leverage your existing fan base, or you’re looking to build on it, consider outsourcing to an integrated marketing agency.
They can monitor your traffic, seek your social superstars, post content, and engage with fans.
With brand evangelism, you spend little to no money to make money.
To be truly successful with it, you must create, promote, and believe in what you do as a company.
But if you can do one thing only—sell a darn good product.