“What really makes up a consumer’s mind is not only simple but also free: a word of mouth recommendation from a trusted source.” – McKinsey1
According to the September 2013 Nielsen Trust in Advertising report2, 69% of people trust branded channels. On top of that, 84% of global consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations over other forms of advertising3. WOM is a powerful marketing tool, which is why your brand might benefit from ambassadors who will communicate your message in a personal and emotional way.
Who Are Brand Ambassadors?
There’s a lot of focus put on influencers and ambassadors as advocates, but they aren’t one and the same and often we find that even the experts can get a little confused on where these two groups differ.
Although influencers may have category expertise and large follower bases – and therefore can be an important part of your social WOM strategy – they don’t necessarily have a direct connection to your specific brand. On the other hand, brand ambassadors are people who truly love your brand and are eager to share their raw excitement and passion, simply for the sake of helping others discover how awesome your product is. There’s a much more organic nature to their brand advocacy than traditional influencers, who are often recruited and/or paid to promote and endorse products they have little to no affiliation with.
What Can a Brand Ambassador Do for You?
A brand ambassador can help you increase social awareness of your brand and potentially reach new audiences. By sharing his/her experience with and passion for your product or service, this person can create an emotional bond between your brand and customers that might result in increased traffic to your branded channel.
Your Best Fans Can Be Your Best Brand Ambassadors
The ideal candidate to be a rock-star brand ambassador is probably closer to you than you can imagine: you can find him/her among the most engaged followers on your social media platforms. The advocates and super advocates within your social audience have already proved to be loyal to your brand and vocal about it; their fondness for your product originated naturally through positive customer experience. It definitely makes sense to leverage their passion and engage them to be your brand ambassadors.
Our Branded Channel platform lets brands identify the most active audience members within their social communities and organic brand advocates, and enables brands to leverage those users into a formal advocate program. Through CommandPost, you can see how each of your followers has engaged with your branded channels over time, what posts he/she commented on, liked and/or shared, and what type of content this person has created on your behalf.
Activate Your Brand Ambassadors
You can use tools like CommandPost to identify what resonates with your ambassadors and optimize your content strategies to give them more of what they are likely to engage with. You can also go further and create a more formal social ambassador program for your brand, in which the organic advocates you identify are recruited, brought closer to you and managed in a more formal relationship while their brand outreach efforts are analyzed and measured.
Remember: collaboration between a brand ambassador and your company should be beneficial for both sides, so make it clear for your new advocates what the value is for them to join. The good news about brand ambassadors is that, unlike traditional influencers, they often see value in non-monetary incentives and consideration. Things like early access – the opportunity to see or try first, access to exclusive events or information – can all have high perceived-value.
Don’t forget about comprehensive training for your new brand advocates! This article provides great insight on what your brand ambassadors should learn before they start their mission4. Be specific as to when, where and how much they should share (including what NOT to share), and encourage your brand advocates to contact your social media representative should they have any doubts about anything.
Use Clear & Conspicuous Disclosure
When utilizing brand ambassadors in an advocate campaign, don’t forget about disclosure. With the Testimonial and Endorsement Guidelines, the FTC required third-party endorsers to disclose material relationships. CommandPost’s Disclosure Solutions can help you avoid issues, show your commitment to transparency and allow your advocates to disclose their partnership in a simple, but effective, manner.
Measure the Success of Your Ambassador Campaign
Track what your advocates share and analyze whether they do it the way you want them to. Provide your social media influencers with feedback (read this article for more tips5), so they can enhance their performance and you can optimize strategies for a successful campaign.
To learn more about how CommandPost can help you manage your brand ambassador campaign, download a one-sheet from our Resources page or fill out the Get Started form on the homepage.
- A New Way To Measure Word-of-Mouth Marketing: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/marketing_sales/a_new_way_to_measure_word-of-mouth_marketing
- Under the Influence: Consumer Trust in Advertising: http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2013/under-the-influence-consumer-trust-in-advertising.html
- Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages: http://se.nielsen.com/site/documents/NielsenGlobalTrustinAdvertisingReportSeptember2013.pdf
- How To Train Brand Ambassadors for Your Non-Profit: http://www.steamfeed.com/train-brand-ambassador-npo/
- Why You Need a Brand Ambassador Program (and Four Companies That Are Doing It Right): http://thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2014/04/03/need-brand-ambassador-program-4-companies-right/