There are fans of your brand and then there are such devoted fans of your brand that they practically do your social media marketing for free. Justin’s got the Beliebers, Jimmy Buffett has the Parrotheads, and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has the Bronies. How do you get your own loyal following? These fans are called brand evangelists (at least until they get a catchy nickname), and every brand can benefit from them.
Brand evangelists have a great social voice
Having them on your side is great for your brand, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Creating them and then catering to them is key.
What’s in it for me?
Brand evangelists are more than your average fan. They go above and beyond by actually contributing to your online community and are typically the first fans to share your message. They are the trendsetters of social media.
Moreover, brand evangelists lend authenticity to your brand that marketing alone cannot do. They can leave positive reviews, respond to trolls, and spread news of your brand to a bigger network.
Mom, where do brand evangelists come from?
Those benefits sound awesome, right? But you’ve got to put in the hard work of creating an engaged community of loyal followers before the rewards start rolling in. How can you create your first brand evangelists and keep the group growing? Start with your employees.
Getting people in your company excited to share your message not only gives you practice in pumping up the masses and reaching a larger network, it also means customers will be interacting with brand enthusiasts whenever they contact you. Here are some tips for creating these first important brand evangelists:
- Establish a strategy: Even though employees are a captive audience, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can wing it. You need to decide how and when you’ll launch elements of your plan, what social media platforms will be used, and whether you’ll start with a small internal pilot. Remember to measure the results, so you know what’s working.
- Provide brand education: Before your employees can effectively spread the word about your brand, you need to make sure they understand what you’re really all about. Someone working in sales may have a different perspective on the brand than someone in IT, for example. Get everyone on the same page by providing brand guidelines, as well as training sessions on your audience and the big picture of your brand. Most employees will welcome additional training that gives them deeper knowledge of the company, so some education will make them both happier and better ambassadors.
- Encourage engagement: Once your plan is underway, encourage employees to interact — with each other, with their friends, with their bosses. They should feel empowered to talk about your business; no one will post about their employer if they are worried they will get in trouble or that they don’t know enough. Provide methods for employee feedback, so they feel really invested in the brand. Give them online badges for participating in LinkedIn discussions or feature employees in a video to post on YouTube. Arrange training sessions on various industry topics to show employees that you’re interested in developing their skills; the bonus for you is that they can then lead industry discussions with other brand evangelists or provide thought leadership pieces in the future.