I have heard a concept floating around lately that has caught my attention: The Brand Evangelist. The title itself makes me think the Apostle Paul, or Billy Graham, or someone who spreads the Good News about our eternal fate. Some CEOs feel pretty strongly about their companies and products, so it may seem that their salvation hangs on the success of their company. The Brand Evangelist’s job is important, but, seriously, it’s not THAT important. Alas, let’s explore this idea more.
The term “brand evangelist” is defined as someone in the public who is actively marketing and promoting a certain product or service using social media. Steve Jobs (from Apple) and Lionel Manchaca (from Dell) are both great examples of a brand evangelist. Brand evangelists (or community ambassadors) can be effective resources for public relations. They help create a human connection with a product that allows the public to really get behind what a company is doing.
However, like this blog from the Social Media Explorer explains, brand evangelists can potentially do more harm than good if they promote a product in the wrong way. I think it’s important that a community spokesperson doesn’t simply shout out about how “awesome” a product is. In order for the brand evangelist to be successful in converting someone into a believer, they must carefully consider how they conduct themselves.
Know what you’re talking about. If someone tells me about a product and I can tell that they don’t have any real knowledge about it, I am going to ignore them. I will go to a voice that has more authority. For a brand evangelist to be effective, we must believe that they know more about the industry than I do, and that based on those insights, their product is the best choice for me.
Don’t control the conversation. When an ambassador praises a product in the digital world, it is important that they do not create or control the conversation, but that they join it instead. If you want people to know how great Jamba Juice is, you should probably know whether they even like smoothies. Joining an existing conversation allows people to feel comfortable to engage in the conversation because they know that you’re probably listening to what they are saying, too.
Speak in an authentic, human voice. In order to really connect with a product, I need to hear about it from a real person who I can relate to. Part of that means photos of your smiling face so that you can be easily recognized.
Empower an already faithful customer to do the job for you. I think this is the most effective piece of all. If someone already has substantial knowledge of the product and a passion to pass it along to others, their excitement will be contagious. The best advertising is word of mouth, or word of keyboard, in this case.