Brand evangelists have been around forever. Think back to the paper boys in the early part of the 20th century standing on the corner shouting headlines in order to sell the local periodical. They were out there building brand awareness, while using the headlines as the hook. Times have changed a bit and instead of the kids standing on the corner, people are now using social networks to share information on brands and products.
The paper companies hired a set number of these kids, but do you know how many people are online promoting your brand? If your answer is no, try doing a Google Blog search or a Twitter search to see how often your brand comes up. If you are fortunate to come across conversations about your brand online then look at the value of them, and how many people they are reaching. Is it @johnsmith with 10 followers mentioning that he stopped by your restaurant, or is it @janedoe with 10,000 followers talking about the great sandwich she had at your restaurant, and how everyone should try it! Most likely it is John…
John has 10 followers for one of two reasons; either he has his updates protected and is wasting time using Twitter, or he has nothing of value to say and people could care less about following him. Either way, go back to Jane’s profile, and you will see that she is constantly saying things of value, and is always reaching out to her following through @ replies and re-tweets.
Here is another way to look at it, John is the guy from high school playing Dungeons and Dragons, and Jane is the Class President and captain of the cheerleading team.
Now that you have realized your position online and who is representing you, it is your job to control it as much as possible.
There are a few ways to do that, so in preparation begin with a few preliminary steps including; identifying the influencers, reaching out to them, getting them to care about who you are, and then convincing them to represent your brand to their following.
When you have done that, the next thing you can do is offer them something. You can give them some sort of promotional code or some free product and ask them to write about you in return. This may work, but most likely they care as much about their personal brand as you do about your company’s brand, so they aren’t going to sell out that easy.
The second and more plausible option is to connect with them. Go to their blog, get involved in the conversations they are creating, and give them a reason (outside of bribery) to put your name out there.
Brand evangelists are a necessary part of a successful social media strategy. They are not easy to find, but you can define them based on age, gender, and location, helping you to target a specific customer instead of just anyone.
It is kind of a waste of time to get someone in Miami to promote your restaurant that just happens to be located in Seattle…Right?