Ann let me know about a Twit from Michael concerning several evangelists for the V1, a three-wheeled alternative energy vehicle, organizing themselves and attacking a blogger that they felt painted their beloved V1 in a negative light.
While this movement to "defend the honor" of the V1 no doubt made its evangelists feel good, I seriously doubt Marshall minded very much, in fact I'm sure the attention the article drew gave the site a nice traffic bump.
But this does raise an interesting question: What if companies begin targeting bloggers that criticize them, by encouraging their evangelists to respond as those for the V1 did? Evangelists by their very nature are extremely passionate, and even a subtle encouragement from a representative of the company they are so passionate about would probably set them off.
For a blog/site that gets several thousand visitors a day and depends on traffic as an ad revenue source, a flood of responses from evangelists might not be a bad thing. But what if companies begin encouraging their evangelists to target criticism from "everyday" bloggers?
Or on the other hand, what if we begin to see more instances of these "sponetanous attacks" from evangelists of a product, toward a blogger that the evangelists feel have wrongly criticized their beloved product/company? If your first exposure to a product/company is a result of the dustup from evangelists attacking a blogger, it could give you a negative impression of the company or product, not the blogger.
In either event, I think this is another reason why companies need to know who their evangelists are, and stay in constant communication with them. Evanglists might believe they are helping the company's cause by orchestrating a passionate response to perceived criticism, but they might actually be hurting the company's perception to outsiders.
Companies need to be actively engaged with their evangelists at all times to ensure that their biggest fans put both their, and the companies' best foot foward.
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