Social Media and Brand Evangelism
So why are brands going beserk about social media, every brand seems to be connecting with people on the virtual world. Why this sudden surge in creating buzz over social networks? What is it about social networks, that brands see?
Creating and maintaining a happy customer base is one thing every marketer would like to do. But what every marketer would dream of is having a group of people, who not only give you business, but also urge other people to use the brand/product. Whether you like it or not, the truth is, people believe other people more than they believe an organization/brand(however big). The experience, of one person, says more about the brand, than what millions of dollars can, through advertising. Welcome, to the world of brand evangelism.
Getting people to talk about your brand, is what will give you sustainable business. The emphasis on brand evangelism has only increased with the increasing impact of social media. The value of the brand now lies in how people talk about it, or rather, talk for it.
Who are evangelists and what do they do?
Evangelists are those people, mostly customers (may also be internal and external partners, like employees, distributors, retailers, and suppliers), who try to propogate their positive beliefs about your brand, into others, especially non-believers. In short they are advocates for your brand. Studies have shown that evangelists not only spend more than the average customer, but also refer business close to 45% of their spend value.
1. Evangelists do not need gifts/promotions for them to do what they do. Evangelists love the product/brand so much that they would willingly promote it for free.
2. Evangelists tell you, the brand, what is wrong, and in most cases will help you fix it, and once it is fixed, feel immensely happy, and tell others about it.
3. The success of the evangelists lies in the success of the brand. They want you to win, so that they become victorious too!
So how do you create evangelists?
1. Understand who your customers are, and what is the driving force, that draws them to your brand.
2. Create products, services, and campaigns, that not just touch the customer, but also connect with, and move them.
3. Listen, and interact with your customers, and try to engage them in your brand activities (Hint: Facebook Page, Twitter, etc.)
4. Social media offers very less control, so you should maintain strict vigil over what your fans are talking about, and respond where required.
5. Acknowledge the evangelists, empower them to do exciting stuff, and thereby encourage more people to become evangelists.
How is social media influencing evangelism?
Well, in a big, big way. For example, earlier, If you were owning a Honda car, and you love it, and your friend comes to you and says that he is looking for a new car, you would immediately start telling him about how you love your Honda. He may/may not be influenced by your talk. Net result, the chances of Honda having a sale, because of your efforts, are rather significantly low.
No, lets say that the same thing happens over social media like Facebook. You love your Honda so much, that you put up a picture of the car with a short description of how much you love it. You get 50 unique likes and 20 unique comments. Your friend, who is in the lookout for the car, also sees the picture, read your experience, and also sees the number of positive likes, and comments.
Now what happens in the background is, For every person who clicked the like button on your picture, the picture gets posted on the news feed of their respective friends. Lets say, each person has around 200 unique friends each, so the visibility of the picture lands at 50*200= 10,000 views. For every person who commented on your picture, the same is visible to all mutual friends between him/her and you. Lets say you have 20 unique mutual friends with each person that commented. Here the visibility would stand at 20*20=400. Your upload has collectively garnered 10,400 views. Out of this, depending on how influential a person you are, the chances of Honda getting a sale is significantly higher than the normal conversation.
Also on social media, the conversation does not have an end. What might seem to have ended, might be picked up and talked about months later. And if someone on the network shares this with the Honda page, this again sets the like and comment ball rolling. This creates a temporary snowball effect, but the size of the ball and the speed, is definitely going to change the perspective of atleast one person, all with one picture from a Honda lover!
Evangelism, doesn’t translate into influencing sale. Evangelism leads to a change in beliefs. These people, who have been led to believe in your brand, if not today, will one day get the cash registers rolling! (And you, the brand, have not put in any effort to change them!)