Social Media Evangelists and Digital Word-of-
Mouth: Engaging Your Online Customer Base to Convert
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Published October 2009. © 2009 Interpret, LLC
Social Media Evangelists and Digital Word-of-Mouth: Engaging Your Online Customer
Base to Convert Sales
Catalyst: The social media landscape enables any customer to become an evangelist for their favorite brands,
but who are these social media evangelists?
• Is the concept of online customer feedback changing with social networks?
• Are evangelists more likely to engage with companies through social networking websites?
• What can companies do to engage their online customers and convert new ones?
Interpret Insight: Social networkers who rate or review products online have a strong influence on the purchase
decisions of other consumers. These evangelists are over twice as likely to engage with companies online by
visiting a company page or profile (22% vs. 9% of non-evangelist social networkers) or clicking on an
advertisement or sponsor (25% vs. 10%), and we believe an opportunity exists for companies to engage with
these evangelists to improve their online perception and convert new customers.
Customer Feedback in the Digital Marketplace
The internet has provided a new marketplace for companies to sell their products, and consumers have been
happy to embrace the idea of shopping without leaving the comfort of their own home. The internet is also a
platform where consumers can compare different products much more easily and voice their opinions about
purchases they have made, and while countless online stores already have places for customers to rate or write
reviews of products, many people also use websites like Yelp, Bizrate or their social networks to voice opinions
about their experience.
As social networks incorporate more features that allow users to engage with brands, (e.g., becoming a ‘fan’ of
a company on Facebook or adding applications to your profile sponsored by different products) businesses
open themselves up for interaction that goes beyond linking to their website. The interaction is evolving from
one easily quantified in page views or time spent on a site to a qualitative review of the brand or product.
When social networkers engage with brands online, information is often posted on their profile for others to
see, which can in turn influence their network’s future purchase decisions. Companies who embrace social
networkers that rate or review products online have the potential to build a coalition of evangelists for their
products that can increase awareness and even drive sales.
Who Are These Evangelists?
While many aspects of social networking online appeal directly to younger audiences, evangelists tend to skew
male and older