BRAND AMBASSADOR are not a new concept for marketers. Most brands have used one or more types of brand ambassadors in one way or another. What’s different now is the scale of those brand ambassadors with the advent of social media. Through social media, brands have been getting the benefit of positive contributions from their fans and followers without even having a formal brand ambassador program. So, one may ask, why should I have a brand ambassador program? If you don’t have a brand ambassador portal or program in place, you’re missing out on becoming a marketing hero amongst your organization. If you’re building a brand ambassador program, you should consider the following 10 questions.
Key reasons why you need a structured brand ambassador program:
- Align social results with business goals from influential community leaders and users within your brand’s social community
- Lunch campaigns and drive product launches quickly with predictable results
- Develop closer relationship with your brand ambassadors that can be the taste makers for your target customers
- Get higher quality content from ambassadors for your campaigns with permission to use in your marketing
- Ask ambassadors to perform specific tasks such as upload content or share a message and connect those tasks with your business process
- Measure effectiveness of actions by ambassadors on your business and reward/recognize the high-performing ambassadors
Let’s take a closer look at the different aspects of brand ambassador programs and discuss the 10 questions you need to answer to create a successful brand ambassador program.
1. What are the goals of your brand ambassador program?
A brand ambassador can help you reach both awareness and revenue goals for your brand. Base your program goals around quantity and quality of brand ambassadors. From a quantity perspective, the goals can be based on location (city, region, and country). Influence, commitment, contribution and quality of contribution would form the basis for a quality goal.
2. Who is your brand ambassador?
This is a basic question in a general sense, but can be tricky from a specific brand point of view. At a very high-level, a brand ambassador can be anyone who is willing to root for your brand. But, a brand must be able to answer the question of who their ideal brand ambassador is, the person that will influence your target audience the most. Customer segmentation and social engagement with your brand may influence the persona of the brand ambassador. In order to develop your brand ambassadors’ persona, consider qualitative aspects such as broader social influence, social engagement with your brand on social networks and quality and frequency of content creation along with traditional demographic aspects such as age, gender, location, race/ethnic origin and income group.
3. Should you have different types of ambassadors?
Brands have been using celebrity endorsements as a key marketing strategy for a long time. Social media creates authentic endorsements from customers and fans without any contractual obligations. Having different types of ambassadors such as sponsored talent (athletes, musicians, dancers, etc), influencers (such as bloggers and media personnel), customers, and fans allows you to scale and message your different types of ambassadors in a proper manner. In addition, different tiers of your program allows you to have different agreement with varying degrees of gives and gets.
4. How do you recruit your ambassadors?
There are many ways to find social influencers and recruit them as brand ambassadors. Ambassadors can be targeted based on a list of your existing customers, your social audience, and influencers. Or recruit potential ambassadors using social ads and/or promotions such as contests and sweepstakes. Use surveys, current social engagement with your brand’s social accounts, sentiment expressed on social networks regarding your brand, and the quality and quantity of the content to qualify potential ambassadors. For bigger brands, finding the right set of ambassadors from millions of potential ambassadors is the key challenge. To determine which subset of ambassadors should be invited to take a survey to further qualify, brands can use social analytics tools. Once you identify the subset to be invited for the next step, you can use emails, social communication such as Twitter and Instagram Direct messages to invite them.
5. How do you structure your brand ambassador program?
You can keep your program completely private or public. Creating a private ambassador program makes your ambassadors feel special, ensuring their quality participation. In addition, you can control the quality and consistency of the participation. Ambassadors would love to be able to interact with other influential ambassadors thereby solidifying the bond between the brand and ambassadors and among ambassadors.
6. What should you ask your brand ambassadors to do? And how often?
Brand ambassador requirements should be aligned with your business process and tasks should be easy to complete. Here are some useful tasks:
- Create content and buzz for a new product launch or for a seasonal campaign – brands can send product to ambassadors to test/wear/experience and write about the product on social networks (blogs, posts, pictures, videos, etc). An example of such content would be posting a selfie wearing a dress, pair of shoes, or eye-catching jewelry with the product hashtag. Another example could be recording a product demo video and uploading it to YouTube.
- Share brand message on social networks – ask your ambassadors to share a specific message. This is the most basic ambassador requirement.
- Answer community questions on social networks or via direct messaging – brand ambassadors can be community leaders to answer product questions.
- Give feedback on marketing messaging for product launch – if a brand is creating multiple messages and advertisements, brand ambassadors can provide feedback on which messaging is the best.
- Give ideas for new product design – new product ideas and features emerge from ambassador feedback.
- Write editorial commentary on products – ambassadors can write editorial commentary for your products that can be displayed on product description pages
- Vote on the new product designs – ambassadors can vote on product designs to pick the best designer/product. A large community is advised.
- Identify your ambassadors interests to find complementary marketing opportunities.
- Ask ambassadors to present a real-time product demo via video conferencing.
7. What should be the frequency of ambassador participation in campaigns?
You must determine the right frequency of asks based on your goals and ambassadors to avoid ‘brand fatigue’. In the case of sponsored ambassadors (like athletes), the frequency is well documented within the agreement. In cases of non-contractual obligations, such as social ambassadors, the frequency should be around 2 campaigns per quarter.
8. What types of incentives should you offer your brand ambassadors?
Based on the type of ambassador (such as sponsored talent, influencer, social user), the incentive will be different. Sponsored talent ambassadors are under contract with their biggest incentive being keeping their sponsorship. The biggest incentive for influencers would be receiving brand recognition. As for fans and followers, recognition and rewards would be their key incentive. Therefore a mix of incentives is required to keep the quality of your ambassador performance high. All ambassadors want to receive recognition, so a good place to start would be featuring a fan photo on your social networks or website. Get creative when planning your incentives, not all ambassadors are motivated by rewards only!
9. What are your key success factors for your brand ambassador program?
- Have a clear answer for ‘why should your brand have a brand ambassador program and how does it support your business goals?’
- Answer the question “what’s in it for my ambassadors?”
- Nurture emotional connection between your brand and the ambassador
- Focus on the right personas for your brand ambassadors that is reflective of your model customer and influencer
- Connect the dots between sponsorship programs and brand ambassador programs to use existing investments
- Add contractual obligations for your sponsored talent to be apart of your brand ambassador program
- Maintain ongoing communication from your brand to your ambassadors
- Encourage ambassadors to interact with each other
- Make the program easy to follow and use
- Don’t let ambassadors experience ‘brand fatigue’
- Enable friendly competition among ambassadors
- Start with a few ambassadors and scale it based on results and need
10. How should I measure the success of the brand ambassador program?
The success metrics will differ for each brand. Take these key metrics into consideration:
Value – Content
- Number of photos and videos shared by ambassadors
Value – Buzz
- Ambassador reach across their social networks
- Shares of the content produced/shared by ambassadors
Value – Traffic
- Influenced clicks – the number of clicks that came in through content sharing by ambassadors
Value – Conversions and Revenue
- Number of conversions due to content shared by ambassadors. This is calculated as the number of conversions that were influenced by ambassador produced content such as their personal photos and videos displayed on e-commerce sites or any other conversion pages (such as sign-up pages).