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Everyone is trying to define social media’s ROI. Each marketing tool offers a unique ROI and social media is no exception. Advertising as you know is a direct, one-way sales message, while traditional PR often leverages perception building via an informative and educational-sharing platform.

Today, PR professionals are turning to social media in droves to generate a deeper, more meaningful relationship between brands and their constituents. The best way to build relationships is to develop brand evangelists. Why are brand evangelists important? Here are a few good reasons:

  1. Brand evangelists tout positive messages about your brand
  2. Brand evangelists are a great resource to bounce new product ideas or services off of as they are truthful and loyal
  3. Brand evangelists often alert you to a competitive threat
  4. Brand evangelists share news with friends and family
  5. Brand evangelists willingly share personal recommendations

Donna Karan, a luxury fashion brand happens to agree with this philosophy stating brand evangelism trumps ROI. Her social media channels are a testament to the success of this philosophy with more than 420,103 Twitter followers, and 15,125 Likes on Facebook and a wonderful portfolio on Tumblr.

Remember it’s not about how many people follow and Like, it’s about the engagement and DKNY apparently has found a way to generate valuable content that generates brand evangelism that surpasses traditional ROI.

Defining ROI within social media is nearly impossible and defining brand evangelists, while not easy, can be done through monitoring, tone and engagement levels.

Maybe it’s time to rethink “the social” in social media and find a way to turn fans, and followers into brand evangelist’s instead of just another click, tweet or comment.