7 tips for finding new brand evangelists in 2017

How brand evangelists benefit your brand and how you can encourage them.

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Brand evangelism may sound like a strange concept if you’re unfamiliar with the term, but it doesn’t have anything to do with a religious appreciation for your brand. Instead, as Business Insurance USA describes it, brand evangelism or advocacy is simply the willingness for certain members of your target audience to profess their interest in or appreciation for your brand. It serves as an extension of your brand visibility and promotion strategy and comes with a host of benefits, but as social media and marketing strategies change, your brand evangelism approach needs to adapt accordingly.

So, how can you find new brand evangelists more reliably in 2017?

Benefits of brand evangelism

First, let’s recap some of the most important benefits of brand evangelism, so we can better focus our efforts for achieving those benefits:

  • It’s free marketing. Okay, it’s not exactly free because you’ll need to invest time in finding and cultivating evangelists — but you won’t have to spend money on them like you would an advertising campaign.
  • Evangelists are trustworthy. People have more trust for neutral third parties than they do for brands. This makes evangelists naturally more trustworthy, and therefore gives your brand more authoritative power.
  • There’s potential for rapid expansion. Because almost any of your customers could become evangelists, as your audience grows, so does your potential for exponential expansion.
  • Evangelists facilitate feedback. A defining quality of evangelists, according to Neil Patel, is how vocal they are. This makes them an excellent source for gathering feedback about your business.

Finding more brand evangelists in 2017

With those benefits as your main priorities, try using these seven tips to find more and better evangelists for your brand in 2017:

  1. Use social listening to tune into your key demographics. First and foremost, start using social listening software to learn what your key demographics are talking about. There are a few goals that should direct your work here. First, you should plug in to learn more about what your audience is like, which you can use to further refine your brand voice and better speak to your audience. Second, you can use social listening to make more relevant posts by timing certain topics and jumping on trends, thereby attracting a more loyal following. Finally, you can use social listening to directly scout for potential evangelist candidates, who you can then court with other tactics.
  2. Go above and beyond with customer service. A simple way to earn the loyalty of a customer is to go “above and beyond” with customer service. If someone’s having an issue with one of your products, go out of your way to replace it and make the situation right, and follow up with them to make sure they’re satisfied with the experience. People remember good customer service experiences indefinitely.
  3. Surprise your customers. People also remember and talk about things that are surprising to them, so go out of your way to surprise your customers from time to time. This could take many forms, such as offering unexpected sales and rewards, or including some extra free product in a customer’s shipment.
  4. Set up a reward or loyalty program. Loyalty programs encourage customer loyalty — go figure. Programs like these, which encourage repeat business with increasing discounts, freebies, or special offers, keep people familiar and invested in your brand. Over time, some of those customers will start speaking out on behalf of your brand — even if it’s only to attract their friends and family to your amazing loyalty program.
  5. Encourage your employees to talk about your brand. Evangelism can come from within, especially if your team members have strong personal brands. Encourage your employees to write about your brand as they see fit, circulating and syndicating your content or just connecting their network of contacts to the brand itself.
  6. Create a user forum. Another way to get your customers to talk to each other and invest more fully in your brand is to create a user forum. Here, your customers will be able to freely post their comments, questions and concerns, and freely interact with each other — all within the confines of your own brand.
  7. Develop content that encourages discussion. This is a simple step, but one a lot of brands miss. It’s important to develop content that’s practical, accurate and unlike what your competitors are offering, but remember, your goal with evangelism is to get your customers to talk. To increase your chances here, develop content that specifically gets your users to talk more, such as controversial content (as Unbounce suggests) or interactive pieces.

With these seven strategies, you’ll have an easier time finding solid brand evangelists and encouraging them to speak on behalf of your company — even without explicit direction from you. Because this strategy depends on the behavior of a tiny percentage of your key demographics, try not to be discouraged if you don’t see results right away. It takes time to cultivate this kind of customer loyalty, but it’s well worth your investment.

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