Creating Online Evangelists

In our previous post, Online Branding Campaigns, we continued our series with a discussion on how to run online campaigns to enhance your brand. In this post, we take a look at how to find and create brand evangelists to help spread the word.

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Creating Online Evangelists

One great source of potential evangelists are your best customers. They’re generally easy to find, and they are likely to be motivated to help you spread the word and serve others. Use the following steps to harvest potential evangelists, and evangelistic messages, from customer groups.

  • Interview Satisfied Participants
    Talk to those who use your products and get them to agree to participate in interviews.
  • Ask What Caused Them to Buy
    What was it about your organization, products, or employees that made them buy? Try to distinguish between a commitment to your product and a commitment to your organization — the resulting messages you create may be different.
  • Ask What They See as the Value of Your Services
    Get customers to put into words your value proposition. What makes your business or its products worthwhile? What distinguishes your enterprise from similar organizations? What is most important about the way you address the need you fill?
  • Ask How They Describe Your Products to Others
    Ask them for the elevator speech — how they would describe your products to a stranger during an average elevator ride. You’re looking for a statement that takes 30-60 seconds to deliver. You should already have written your version of your elevator speech. But you may be surprised what others come up with.
  • Write Down Their Answers Word for Word
    Resist the temptation to edit what they tell you during these discussions. Aim to exactly record what they have said. If you pre-edit their contributions, you may miss a chance to learn an important nuance you might not have caught.
  • Use Their Material in Your Recruitment and Branding Messages
    During your interviews, you have discovered how your community looks at you and speaks about you. Just as it is important to capture this material verbatim, it’s also important to use it to fashion or modify your messaging. Ideally, the messaging you use for evangelist recruiting will be very similar to the rest of your messaging. Remember, using the voice of the customer will help you create the relationship and conversations with your community.
  • Test and Refine Your Messaging at Offline Events
    Before designing online campaigns, test out your messaging offline. Be sure to gather reactions from a wide variety of stakeholders.
  • Use Your Refined Messaging in Your Marketing Materials
    If it works online, it’s likely to work through conventional marketing as well. Consider using your new approach in all your marketing materials, but not before you’ve proved it online.

Once you have an approach mapped out, you’re ready to find evangelists.

Finding Evangelists

Chances are you already have some evangelists, or can readily identify candidates based on your offline community. There are probably lots of other active evangelists already online, and many of them are already using social media to proselytize for you.

As a first step in finding current and potential evangelists, you need to identify related blogs, Twitterers, LinkedIn connections, and Facebook people who have significant influence, followers and traffic. Here are some ideas about how to do this.

  • Google “I love [your product, organization]” — If you’ve got the nerve, and want to know your enemy, also Google “I hate [your product, organization]”
  • Google Blog Search your product, organization — You can use Google Blog Search[1] or any of the other blog monitoring tools we’ve mentioned
  • Search Twitter and Facebook — Twitter’s search has gotten a lot better. You can also now search tweets on Google as well. Facebook search is OK, and Google indexes it as well.
  • Set up Google Alerts and Twitter Alerts — Google Alerts[2] can send you daily updates based on your keywords. You can set up and save a keyword search on Twitter but you’ll need to manually run it. You can set up automated alerts using TweetBeep.[3]

Don’t forget your staff! Reach out to them for ideas on finding evangelists.

Creating Online Evangelists is the 73rd in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’re just past page 225. At this rate it’ll be a long time before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

Get our new book, The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for Business-to-Business Sales Success online here.

Next up: Defining Evangelistic Styles

[1] Google Blog Search:

[2] Google Alerts:

[3] TweetBeep:

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