Do you know VABeachKevin? He’s a guy on Twitter who might answer your question if you’re confused about a product from Omniture. Funny thing is, he doesn’t work for the company. He’s just a guy who likes the product and likes to share what he knows. He’s a brand evangelist and his word is worth more than ten tweets from a salesman on the company Twitter.
Brian Watkins of Adobe has an interesting new webcast available that talks about how you can get your own VaBeachKevin, because seriously, we all need at least one like him.
To begin with, you have to locate potential evangelists. You can use a variety of monitoring tools that will search and filter social media for keywords related to your brand, but for a quick look, Watkins suggests you simply search Twitter yourself. Once you have a list of people who have been known to promote your product, Watkins suggests a step that many marketers skip. He says you should get to the know that person by doing a little research. Take it out of Twitter and find out who they work for, what are their interests, why does your product resonate with them? This information is out there. Once you know how to work the Google magic you’ll be surprised, and probably a bit frightened, by what you can find.
The most important step is the next one; give that person what they need to be a star. When I heard Watkins say this I threw up my hands and said hallelujah, brother. This fits right in with the FanTrail app I mentioned the other day and KMart sending gamers to E3. If you give a fan something special, he’ll tell the world and if it’s special enough, he’ll be your brand evangelist for life.
Watkins says that instead of handing out logo t-shirts at a convention, they might invite social media influencers to present for a few minutes. He also talks about treating social media fans as if they’re the press. Offer them a scoop, a review product, a tour of the office. The last time I went on a TV series set visit, more than half of the invited guests were people running small fan sites. Publicists have learned that the New York Times may reach a wider audience, but the fan site is precisely targeted and they’ll give the scoop more page time than a bigger publication.
Finally, he makes a point that is going to be tough for some marketers to do. Point them in the right direction and then get out of their way. Instead of using social media to push traffic to your website, let the conversation unfold where it is. Go fishing where the fish are, says Watkins and that leads us back to the conversation we all had yesterday about why have a website when you have Facebook.
Imagine this. Stefano posts to his Facebook that he just had the most delicious cookie he’s ever eaten. His friends comment and say, really, where can we get them? Stefano is probably going to answer them, but you come in as a representative of the brand and say here’s a link to our website where you can find out all about our cookies, they’re great, here’s a coupon, yum, yum.
Now, there’s a good chance that the conversation is over because your response looks like spam and it feels a little like you were spying on their private chat. (Even though Facebook is far from private.) Using the Watkins method, you could email Stefano and offer him a free box of cookies for him and five friends. Now Stefano himself is going to mention your generosity and ask who wants free cookies? Me! Me! Me! That conversation is going to continue and when everyone gets the free cookies, they’re going to talk about it on their Facebook pages.
Yes, brand evangelists are a marketer’s best resource as long as you use them wisely, don’t abuse their kindness and reward them in meaningful ways that make them feel like a star.
If you’re got the time, click here to view the whole webcast. It’s free and it’s loaded with great information about how to make and measure a social media plan. It’s good stuff. Yum. Yum.