Understanding Social Media Evangelists


Once you’ve found evangelist candidates, you’ll want to begin to establish relationships with them. Before doing so, it’s helpful to realize that there are various styles of evangelists.

  • Intellectual
    Intellectual evangelists enjoy using rationality, ideas and evidence to persuade. They are typically analytical, logical, and inquisitive. They will most likely engage with your community by debating ideas and presenting rational evidence. They typically are more concerned with what people think than with what they feel.An intellectual evangelist is a good fit for communities or community members who like to engage on a rational level. If your organization’s appeal is primarily visceral, this type of evangelist may not be a good fit.Support the intellectual evangelist with lots of facts, figures, and other empirical evidence. They are likely to respond well to objective manifestations of their success, such as awards, badges, and admission to special clubs and hierarchies.
  • Testimonial
    This type of evangelist has been there and done that and is best used as a representative for products and services that change lives. They’ve used your products or services to solve a problem or improve their lives in some way. They have the war stories to establish credibility. But their experience doesn’t have to be dramatic, based in life-changing events and conflicts. In fact, ordinary stories may connect with a larger range of people. Testimonial evangelists are generally good communicators as well as good listeners. They have a talent for connecting their experiences with your community’s.A testimonial evangelist can be an asset to almost any organization, but particularly one whose business purpose is emotionally affecting.Support the testimonial evangelist with lots of case studies and personal stories from those you serve. They may respond well to objective manifestations of their success, but are likely to be more driven by the number and quality of their relationships.
  • Interpersonal
    The interpersonal evangelist thrives on creating relationships with community members and influencing them via these relationships. They generally have a very conversational online style and are compassionate and sensitive. They are obviously friendship-oriented and have an ability to focus on individuals in the community and their needs.An interpersonal evangelist, like the testimonial evangelist, can be an asset to almost any organization. Organizations where interpersonal bonds in the community are especially strong can best leverage this type of evangelist.Support the testimonial evangelist with online tools that enable them to easily create and maintain personal relationships. They may respond well to objective manifestations of their success, but, like the testimonial evangelist, are likely to be more driven by the number and quality of their relationships and a personal relationship with your organization’s staff and leadership.
  • Invitational
    Invitational evangelists specialize in attracting new members to the community. This type of evangelist is a gatherer, identifying potential community members and bringing them into the fold. They are also extremely open, hospitable, and persuasive, and live for meeting new people. They are extremely committed and welcome opportunities to invite prospects to experience the community.The invitational evangelist fits best in an organization that has lots of online and offline events or other gatherings that the evangelist can help attract prospects to.Support the inherently social invitational evangelist by providing opportunities for them to work their magic. They are likely to respond to some objective measurements, such as number of prospects converted, but mostly to a sense of belonging to your organization and making a difference.

No matter the evangelism style your organization prefers, it’s important to distinguish between an evangelist and a fanatic.

Famous online personality and former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki said, “Fanatics forcefully push their agenda whereas an Evangelist always puts the customer first.” For customer in this quote we would substitute community. You don’t really want fanatics. While their energy and devotion are not in question, they may lack a variety of other characteristics that would make them a good evangelist, notably subtlety. And their passion may actually get in the way of their effectiveness: think the overly-zealous salesperson who won’t take no for an answer.

So what do you do with evangelist candidates once you understand their styles and how to approach them? That’s the subject of the next post in this series, Characteristics of a Good Social Media Evangelist. If you’d like to weigh in on the conversation, reply below and perhaps I’ll incorporate your ideas in the next post.

See the previous posts in this series: How Can Social Media Scale?How to Scale Social Media,  and Identifying Social Media Evangelists,


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About Social Media Performance Group

Social Media Performance Group is a premier enterprise social media consulting company that offers a unique approach to integrating social media into the enterprise — forget about the tools, it's all about the strategy! Rather than focusing on the tactics (do this or that on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube), first we work with you and your senior leadership to comprehend your corporate strategy. Once we understand your strategic objectives and goals, we show you how a comprehensive social media strategy can integrate with and support your corporate strategy. We take an enterprise-wide view based on our unique Enterprise Social Media Framework, which maps social media to all appropriate touchpoints in your enterprise. We go beyond the obvious quick hits — sales and marketing — and help you achieve social-media-driven results in areas such as product development, customer service, and employee engagement and retention. As a result, social media is not just bolted on; it is integrated with, and provides support for, your company's existing strategy and operations, yielding unprecedented results.
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