It is basic human nature to trust and purchase a product or service that has been recommended by someone they know, be it a close friend, family member, a loved celebrity or influencer, or just a review on a product review page.
92% of people around the world say they trust earned media including recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising.
When it comes to purchase of products, services and even events, brands are beginning to see a lower ROI in paid advertising compared to brand ambassador programs.
Consumer brands and nonprofits are harnessing the power of social media ambassadors to build excitement and spread the word about new products or initiatives.
A brand ambassador is a person who represents your brand online to social networks, blog networks and more. Effectively, they become the digital face of your brand to some degree, whether you are selling a product, hosting an event or offering a service.
Unlike influencers who are often paid simply for one piece of content, social media ambassadors are a part of long term relationships with those brands that they work with. Depending on the job description, they may create content on a monthly basis for as long as a year or more.
An influencer refers to a media personality, who has gained a lot of clout, often a substantial social media or blog following and works with brands to help them promote products or services.
They have a built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic and have the ability to convince their followers who trust their voice. This makes them desirable to brands looking to reach a target market.
Brand ambassadors on the other hand are real people who love your brand and your products. These are people who actively use your products and are passionate about your brand. They aren’t celebrities and don’t always have a large following on social media.
Unlike influencers, brand ambassadors don’t push products necessarily because they are being paid to do so, they simply share why they love your products based on their experience using them.
Credible brand ambassadors are able to offer many benefits like raising brand awareness, building brand credibility and authenticity, drive website traffic, generate sales or donations, and grow brand communities.
Research continues to show that purchasing decisions are heavily influenced by word-of-mouth. Customers would rather buy when someone they know has made a purchase and recommends the brand.
Due to the fact that ambassadors already have a robust online reach and professional affiliations within the industry, having their help in creating awareness can be very beneficial.
Social media isn’t always about reaching new people, it can also help deepen your connection with people that already know and love you. Building relationships over time is a key part of inbound marketing.
There are 4 types of brand ambassador programs you can choose from;
In running an official brand ambassador program, there are specific requirements that you set for an ambassador to complete within a specific time frame like a specific number of posts and mentions on their social media pages.
This type of program allows you directly control your budget and you can easily refresh the requirements to fit the overall marketing strategy.
Word-of-mouth thrives amongst students which is why campuses provide the best setting for a brand ambassador program. Students can promote your brand through social media, through word of mouth and through guerilla marketing techniques which includes the use of sticker bombs, branded outfits and more.
Sometimes, brands give out open invites to anyone who loves their products and services to join their ambassador programs. There are no signed agreements. Although there are no special rewards, brands offer incentives to their top-performing ambassadors.
If your aim is to ultimately generate sales, then this might just be the right program for you.
The way it works is that you generate a unique link for each affiliate brand ambassador registered in your program. They promote your product or service on social media and they are paid an agreed commission on each product that is purchased using their unique links. The more sales the affiliate ambassador drives, the higher the commission percentage.
Getting some of your employees to work as your brand ambassadors is great because they already have in-depth knowledge and are conversant with your brand; as a result, their word of mouth is of great importance. They know your ideal audience, they know a lot about your products and services and might not have to go through extra extensive training to be ambassadors for your brand.
There are so many goals you could be looking to achieve with a brand ambassador program. You might want to build brand awareness, drive website traffic, boost sales, sign volunteers, create awareness for your mobile app and increase downloads.
What exactly will you ask your ambassadors to do to promote your brand? How will you control and track their activities and performance? What guidelines and policies will you put in place?
How long are you looking to utilize brand ambassadors, is it for a year or just a few weeks? Is it long-term or short-term? What incentive and reward will you offer brand ambassadors? And on what basis would that payment be on?
You goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound and realistic.
To start a social media brand ambassador program, you must clearly articulate why you need ambassadors and look to see if your brand is actually ready to handle a program. Here are a few signs your brand is ready;
Of course you can’t have an ambassador program without actual ambassadors, so you’ll have to recruit. You can recruit ambassadors by using owned media, earned media or paid media.
This is basically a digital channel your brand exercises control over like your social media page, email campaigns, your website.
You can use compelling campaigns like email campaigns, direct messaging campaigns on social media, that drive interested parties to an informational landing page or your website that has more information and details about your ambassador program.
Your landing page or website should have every single detail relevant to the program including incentives and rewards. It should have a form where interested parties can sign up with their details including their email addresses. An automated follow up email should be sent to people who sign up for the program, thanking and enabling them for signing up.
Earned media creates an opportunity to personally engage with ambassadors on social media or face-to-face. Earned media simply means publicity gained through word-of-mouth, reviews, news coverage, social media mentions, shares, etc.
You should take advantage of your leadership team or brand spokesperson to personally recruit ambassadors, ask them and newly signed ambassadors to invite others to join the program. You can as well publicize your ambassador program on blogs by guest blogging and other media publications.
Running paid online ads allow for specific targeting. You can use your ideal ambassador as a targeting persona for ads on social platforms. Retargeting using paid ad campaigns will get your message across to the right people who are likely to be interested in your program based on their psychographics.
You can also develop email segments by gathering past donors and volunteers. Utilize Facebook custom audiences and these segments for relevant ads and effective recruitment.
Your first ambassador team should have only a few numbers of ambassadors, say 5-10, pushing too big might overwhelm both you and your ambassadors, as well as the sincerity of your ambassadors’ message.
It’s time to activate your ambassadors and get them to work. Communicate and interact with your ambassadors through emails, social media groups and microsites.
Educate and train them on the job and role you want them to play so they get your brand message and image passed across in the right way. Let them know the type of content you want them to create, be it videos or images.
Give them access to better resources to be closely connected with your organization. Offer ambassadors tools like campaign logos, branded profile photo templates, pre-scripted emails and social posts to help them recruit other ambassadors as well. Make them feel valued; provide updates on progress towards achieving your goals and how they are helping the cause.
Keep it fun and interesting, but also constantly remind them and keep them focused of your goals.
You are investing in this program so you would want to know how well it is helping your business grow. You should track your brand ambassadors, each time they promote your brand and all the engagement and feedback that comes from each promotion, frequency of social media posts, impressions and engagements, brand reach and inbound traffic, and issued rewards. It is best to use a software analytics tool to help keep track of these metrics.