The days of celebrity brand ambassadors are far from over. You will still see Scarletts on billboard’s, Clooneys on coffee ads, Kardashians on just about anything. Companies will always want their brand to be associated with an aspirational ideal of how a lifestyle should look.
The difference now is that the parameters for celebrity have shrunk and the ability to generate your own awareness has grown. This is the age of the Youtube star, the Insta-celeb and the Vine-phenomenon.
With such a wide variety of social media platforms and strategizing tools at their disposal, companies are seeing the value of creating brand ambassadors on a large scale. While elements of being a brand ambassador on social media will resemble referral programs, there are some specific steps you will need to make this program work and work effectively.
Recognize Your Ambassador
With celebrity endorsements, often a spokesperson will have made their mark in another field. A company can see how a particular image might fit into their brand and approach the right person accordingly.
With brand ambassadors on social media, the method for finding a suitable advocate involves looking closer to home: your customers. If you already have an efficient customer loyalty program, then you should know who is loyal to your brand and who will be likely to fit the position.
According to Rob Fuggetta, brand advocates are 50% more influential than the average customer. This is because their passion for product extends to more than just yours. They are people who promote certain brands because they are effective and lend credence to their own lifestyle brand.
Like food bloggers who work with affiliate product suppliers, finding ambassadors involves looking at those who either do use or are likely to use your product or service.
Use your customer loyalty program to spot trends, hashtags, repeat customers and define their reach. Check through their social media presence and see who seems fit best with your brand. When you discover who is interacting with your brand, who is responding to your promotions and whose online presence best fits with your desired representation, you’re on to a winner.
Make Sure They Know You
Once you have spotted who might work well for your business as a brand ambassador, you need to approach them. Don’t just DM them and say, “Hey, what’s up?” Have a prepared statement describing why you are contacting them, why you think they would work well for your business, what being a brand ambassador will mean for them and providing the steps they need to take to get involved.
If you have searched for potential ambassadors through your customer loyalty program, then you should already have some contact information (and be in regular contact with promotional material and opportunities). Sending this information in an email will be ideal.
However, don’t overload them with information on first contact either. They might be inclined to think you are sending them spam or be overwhelmed by too many words on the screen.
Instead, once they reply with their interest, then you can go further into what you might expect from them as a brand ambassador and vice versa.
Set Out Guidelines
Once you have their interest, it’s time to set out your guidelines. Always start with what your advocate can expect from you. To do this you will need to know how much online clout they might have.
If you are speaking to someone with a lot of followers, they may already have ambassador deals with other companies. How much ‘a lot’ constitutes can be relative, but it certainly means thousands as a start.
If you see customers who have a great presence, but are only at the budding stage of their social media flowering, then you can offer them less for the same reward.
What this reward might be is up to you. With celebrity endorsement, contracts can run into the millions of dollars. With brand ambassadors on social media, the reward is likely to be a little more humble and appropriate for the user.
It could be similar to your reward scheme, but involves more perks. A good example is Maker’s Mark who have a brand ambassador program which fits snugly into the image of an ideal customer.
Just as you might find in a high end establishment which sells Maker’s Mark bourbon, their brand ambassadors are treated accordingly. They have special VIP bourbon tastings, merchandise with their name on it and so much more. Creating the bespoke reward system for your brand ambassadors should involve as much, if not more, creative effort as your reward referral system.
Once you have your benefit system in place as part of your larger customer loyalty program, you can discuss how they can help fit the role of being an ambassador. The terms and conditions are up to you as long as they promote the brand. You won’t want to police their profile, but you can set realistic expectations of how they should promote something with your name attached to it.
Build Them Up and Let Them Fly
Once the parameters have been set, you want to encourage your ambassadors to get creative. You can use your customer loyalty program to inform them of upcoming promotions. Once they have the information you need to get across, they can find ways to promote to their followers.
Remember that their followers will have been carefully cultivated over years, so your brand ambassadors will likely know how to interact with them best. You will want to use their own unique online personality to show you are beneficial to the kind of lifestyle followers would want to emulate.
Loyalty Begins at Home
While analyzing data, searching out new players on the social media scene and investigating knew avenues of promotion is great, you have resources even closer at hand. Letting your employees use their own social media accounts to promote your business is a resource they are likely happy to use.
Do not, however, force workers to be brand ambassadors. Firstly, if you are a good enough employer, they should be happy to be a brand ambassador on a daily basis. Secondly, unless part of their job description is directly related to marketing, they might not want to have much of a social media presence. You should respect this right.
Finally, a little note to remember to analyze the data once it comes back. It’s all well and good letting your brand ambassadors explore and get creative with their promotion, but if they are not representing you well or holding up their end of the deal, you may need to reconsider your strategy.
If you want to learn more how your company can get started with an ambassador program schedule a call with our experts!