Brand evangelists are your true fans: the ones who buy your products, brag about your company to their friends, and can't wait to buy even more.
It's easy to see why it's important to have loyal customers like this, but here's some additional stats that underline the value of building a social army of brand evangelists:
64% of marketing executives say word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing
92% of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don't know them) over brands
74% of consumers use social media to make purchase decisions
If you want a powerful tool to attract new customers, building a social army is the way to go. To get you started, here are some recruiting tactics I recommend.
1. Create Personal Messaging
Marketers know all about using buyer personas and segmentation to speak to their target audiences, but many forget about those tools when it comes to social media.
Sending the same tweet out to 10,000 followers makes it difficult to create a personal connection. In order to resonate with certain followers and start building them into evangelists, your messaging needs to consider the thoughts, needs, desires, and interests of segments of your social audience.
Create organic messaging with this in mind, and use organic targeting features (available on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+).
I suggest you also consider using paid promotion to target specific demographics with your most powerful content. All the biggest social platforms offer impressive targeting options to get your message in front of the people who matter most.
2. Be a Friend
In order to gain win over evangelists, you'll need to act like more than just a brand on social media. Go beyond just sharing your own content and talking about yourself.
Make efforts to:
- Share your audience's content
- Comment on their posts
- Give shout-outs to your favorite customers
- Get to know them
All of these tasks are part of an effort to humanize your brand. If your social followers are able to connect with a person behind the company, they'll relate to you more.
3. Share Your Values
In today's world, social media is the go-to place to debate politics, beliefs, and any other controversial topic you can think of. If your brand wants to get noticed and gain some clout, you need to start taking a stand.
Communicate your values and discuss current events. Brands like Apple, Google, Whole Foods and more do it all the time.
Speaking up about controversial topics makes it easier to engage in social discussions, among other benefits.
4. Invite Feedback
Social media has become a popular platform for customers to air their complaints to brands - but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Maritz and Evolve24 conducted a study which found that 83% of people who complained about a brand on social media responded positively when the company took the time to follow up. Responding to such comments also demonstrates to onlookers that your company cares about customer service.
You can even encourage feedback and criticism on social media, then make efforts to fix the biggest issues. People love it when they know brands are listening to them.
5. Encourage Sharing and Engagement
If you want to encourage social followers to share your content and become brand evangelists, make it as easy as possible.
To start with, that means having social share buttons on all of your content - but don't stop there.
Consider adopting a "gamification" tactic by offering awards and badges to your website visitors when they complete certain tasks, like commenting on content, watching tutorials, and completing other touch points.
Strategically place social share buttons (or even a social share call to action) at these points of engagement, so your already-interested customers are encouraged to spread your name and brand across social media.
6. Offer Value
When working with clients, I've found that the content you produce and share on social media needs to offer real value (entertainment, information, etc.) to your audience if you want them to pay attention to your brand at all.
That means your posts shouldn't be all about promoting your products and services - unless you're prepared to offer value in the form of exclusive discounts, pre-release invitations, sneak previews, or beta access.
Make your social followers feel like they're part of an exclusive club to get them enthusiastic about your brand's offerings.
I would also suggest you make it possible for your budding evangelists to extend some of those discounts and promotional offers to their friends.
Brainstorm unique ways to offer value to your current customers on social media that they can also share with others. This will draw more business and more opportunities to build your social army.
7. Stay Creative
Social followers can fall in love with your brand, but they can just as easily fall out of it. Keep thinking of new ways to create experiences that people can't help but share.
The first part of that task is continuing to develop products and services that people can't live without. The second part is delivering your products to your audience in a way that offers value and engaging with them along the way.
Creating brand evangelists is a multifaceted undertaking with unmatchable business rewards. Keep finding ways to surprise your social audience so the buzz never dies down.