Brand Evangelist Jobs: An Oxymoron?

by Jordan Cooper |

Good morning, folks! My name is Jordan Cooper and I’m the official brand ambassador of this blog and the appointed evangelist of Social Media Explorer and the legend himself, Jason Falls. How can I help you today?

Wait … before you answer that question, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about the awesomeness of this blog. We’ve got killer posts here that are jaw-dropping in quality. Our content is like none other and written by authors that completely transcend the industry – like Adam what’s-his-face and Ike Spigot (or is it Faucet?).

From topics ranging from social media to social media (and even sometimes social media, just for a change of pace), we tackle the tough questions other blogs are afraid to address. I haven’t visited any of them, but I guarantee you they’re not doing it since that’s what Jason has told me.

While I’m at it, did I mention how uber-brilliant that man is? Even though we’ve never met, spoken to each other before and frankly, I’ve never heard of him before this job opportunity – he retweeted a post of mine yesterday, so he must be insanely smart!

But enough about us, what do you think of Social Media Explorer?

Wait… before you answer that question, let me tell you about the absolute must-read posts in our archives. One is about using social media for a small business. One is about using social media for a big business. One is about using social media to get into everyone else’s business. The rest I’ve never actually read, but I’m sure they’re just as awesome as Jason says they are.

Oh, and don’t let me forget about the mega Twitter contest we have running this weekend. Just retweet this post with the hashtag #desperatepublicity. For each annoying time you do so, we’re giving away 10 copies of some best-selling social media book I’ve never heard of. (once again, it must be good if Jason tells me so).

I’m so pumped and excited to be your brand ambassador!

Feel free to engage in some killer conversation here and ask me any question concerning social media. Of course, my answer will always be “I’ll get back to you on that” since I don’t have a single, solitary clue about the subject – but don’t let that stop you. My job here is to show you that Jason truly cares about his readers while he personally ignores you all.

Don’t worry. I’m just kidding. I’m not the brand advocate for Social Media Explorer.

(and Jason probably couldn’t pay me enough to hold down the vomit it would take me to say nice things about him. Heh.)

But seriously, folks. I’ve seen brands employ “evangelists” and community managers that, between the lines, come across just like this. Spouting off about the brand’s latest and greatest product. Pumping out snippets of postive user reviews. Asking vague probing questions to the community all day and barely ever actually engaging in conversation. Yet in the rare instance when they do respond to inquiries, customers are politely directed to another source and an endless bread trail to find the answer.

It’s as if the “ambassador”, someone who supposedly touts their undying love for the brand, really doesn’t have much of a clue about the business whatsoever. Not its products. Not its offerings. Not its promotions. Seemingly, not any actionable knowledge at all that would be of any use to a customer or prospect.

It’s like they don’t even use the brand’s products themselves. Yet they’re supposed to evangelize others.

Of course, I don’t expect the social media “dude” for Intel to know the intracacies of Nehalem microarchitecture, but if I ask a simple question about one of their processors, I sure hope this annointed ambassador can answer it without batting an eye. If not, what’s the purpose of his/her position other than placing another beauracratic barrier between the brand and its community?

Unfortunately, it seems like many businesses are taking this unknowing approach to social media. Hire a recent college grad. Pay them entry-level compensation. Throw ’em on Twitter and let him/her be the face of the company to the connected online world.

In and of itself, this isn’t a wholly bad strategy. If you plan on treating social media as a “push-only” broadcast as part of the public relations department, there’s no true need for this position to be anything other than logistical. But if the brand gives off the distinct expectation that their presence is a platform for two-way community interaction, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Giving the keys to the castle to someone who doesn’t actively use your own products just defeats the purpose of the “evangelist” position to begin with. Call them a brand marketer. Call them a spokesperson. But don’t make your commuity feel as if this person is just like “one of them” when it’s quite obvious they’re not. Trust me, they will know.

Your customers aren’t stupid. We can tell when you’re full of crap.

If you’re truly looking to establish a successful front-facing evangelist program, empower those from within your own community of customers. Find those who show a remarkable knowledge of your brand and have the natural willingness to pass it along to others.

There’s no better way to evangelize further people than by employing those who are already participating in the public consumer conversation without any compensation, motivation or intervention whatsoever. This should be a requirement of a brand ambassador position, not an added luxury.

And this is why job postings such as this one frustrate the hell out of me…

Wanted: Social Media Brand Evangelist

As our first Social Media Brand Evangelist, you will use your passion for and expertise in social media to continue to grow and extend Xs brand and position as the premier X experience by:

  • Creating and implementing X’s vision and strategy for social media marketing.
  • Evangelizing, articulating and infusing social media best practices throughout the organization.
  • Identifying trends and maintaining relationships with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, LinkedIn, key bloggers and others.
  • Developing programs and tactical initiatives that effectively leverage social media and translate into web traffic and transactions.
  • Creating social media content that engages and empowers online audiences to talk about X.

We’re looking for a social media star who has been successful in big brand consumer facing organizations. Must be highly adept at both strategy and execution, have a deep knowledge of the social media landscape, trends, strategies, platforms, applications, tools and best practices as well as a strong foundation in consumer brand marketing. Must be able to exhibit a proven record in leveraging social media to extend consumer brands and drive results along with the communication skills and business acumen to be successful within a highly dynamic organization that takes a fearless approach to winning in an intensely competitive marketplace.

Ok, I think it’s reasonable they’re looking for someone with experience in social media marketing – but where in all of this is the qualification that the candidate currently uses product X? What if they know nothing about the product at all? What if they do, but don’t consider it to be a very good product whatsoever? What if they secretly hate it?

How in the world do you expect someone, albeit skilled in many facets of marketing, to represent your brand in an ambassador role without having that core trust, belief and knowledge of the product inside of him/her? To not even address as one of the fundamental qualifications is downright lunacy.

Evangelism isn’t a job title. It’s not a cookie-cutter skill set your human resources department can categorize in a filing cabinet full of resumes. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon that develops organically within people. Find those people. Hire them.

What if you can’t find any of these types of people? Then your brand is in much bigger trouble than you think … and it definitely can’t be solved with a social media marketing initiative.

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About the Author

Jordan Cooper

Jordan Cooper is a professional stand-up comedian with 14 years experience performing in comedy clubs and colleges around the USA. He showcases his sarcastic humor with videos and written rants about blogging, social media & marketing at Not A Pro Blog. Jordan also runs of one of the web's top Football Manager video game blogs and its vibrant forum community of 10,000+ members.