It doesn’t take a hawk’s eyes to spot a brand ambassador program on social media. This is because modern businesses want to reach customers in ways other than traditional advertising efforts.
People want to hear from “those among them”, influencers who give unfiltered content and build trust. Shaking hands with such social media superstars can help brands cultivate relationships with happy consumers who promote them.
Not only do these loyal customers know your product like the back of their hand, but they also preach it to their network.
Brands can tap into this potential by introducing brand ambassador programs.
However, a successful program is not a coincidence but is carefully curated.
This guide will tell you all that you need to know about brand ambassador programs to launch your own.
What Is A Brand Ambassador Program?
A brand ambassador program is like extending a formal invitation to your fans and customers who adore your products to come on board as champions of the brand. In particular, it invites people who are already standing out in creative ways to show love for your brand publicly.
However, the core goal of a brand ambassador program is to enlist your most ardent fans and maximize campaign effectiveness. A brand ambassador program can help your organization standardize how it works with individual ambassadors.
It is targeted at a specific goal: boosting sales, improving conversions, or increasing brand exposure. An ambassador will actively market your business to their social networks to achieve this goal.
From being invite-only, ambassador programs have now evolved to where brands can hold contests and enroll influencers. Such associations are developed for the long term, hence brands should keep their ambassadors excited by sharing insider information such as new product launches, campaigns, etc.
Why Should You Employ A Brand Ambassador?
Rapid changes in technology are usually accompanied by similar changes in the marketing world, especially digital. Brand ambassadors can be considered an integral aspect of your marketing team. They add a human element to your company. Consider that people are more interested in the person wearing your logo than the logo itself.
A brand ambassador can be your organization’s warm and welcoming voice in online engagement with customers. Through their passion for your brand, they help convert visitors into customers, thus boosting your sales figures.
In a sense, brand ambassadors are paid marketers through other benefits such as free merchandise or loyalty points if not with money.
Figure 1: Influencer wearing Gymshark branded clothing speaks volumes for the brand Source: Instagram
Benefits Of Brand Ambassador Programs
A long-term relationship with an ambassador is a better ROI for a brand because the longer the association, the better well versed they will be with the brand’s philosophy. This is especially helpful if they ever need to defend the brand against negative comments from the customers. Hence, getting into a formal understanding through a dedicated program can ensure that the relationship runs smoothly.
Other than that, there are some obvious benefits to a brand ambassador program.
1. Brand ambassadors are trusted
Nowadays, most people take to the Internet to check what others are saying about a product they are interested in. Recommendations from other consumers are considered more valuable than the brand’s claims. Hence, if you are looking to get your feet wet in a new target market, brand ambassadors can quicken the process on your behalf.
2. Brand ambassadors promote the image first; sales are a result
Since brand ambassadors are ideally already users of your products, they will talk about the brand more convincingly. Prospective customers will always find another user more relatable than a salesperson. If a brand ambassador is genuinely impressed by your product, they may give you a shoutout, regardless. And your business will grow.
3. Brand ambassadors create and share content for you
They do the heavy lifting of creating content on your behalf. As long as you provide the brand ambassador with the products and necessary information, rest assured that they will give their unique twists that highlight your brand in the best possible way. They know their audience and are experts at content delivery, so your brand benefits from the same. You can also pitch in by reposting their content and widening the exposure.
4. Brand ambassadors have significant reach
Brand ambassadors can potentially open new market segments for you, which may otherwise not be accessible. Their follower count is secondary to their impact, so find a voice resonating with your own who has a positive influence and solid engagement with their audience.
5. Brand ambassadors offer great feedback
If you want to improve your product before it hits the masses, dual out your ambassadors as testers. Their feedback on what they love and what they think missed the mark can help you improvise. This is a great way to minimize negative comments before your product hits the aisles.
6. It’s budget-friendly to set up a brand ambassador program
Brand ambassador programs are proving to be one of the most economical marketing techniques, even if you prefer to reward your ambassadors in kind. Results drive payments, which means you only spend once you make a new sale or achieve another target.
Types Of Brand Ambassador Programs
1. Requirement-driven brand ambassador programs
Most marketing professionals consider this as the ideal brand ambassador program. An ambassador must fulfil pre-decided guidelines on behalf of a brand within a stipulated time range. For example, this could be ten social media content per month or five brand mentions on their blog.
The benefit of this brand ambassador program is to have the freedom to adapt to changes and control over the budget allocated. Requirement-driven promotions can be used for any business, and these can be updated to meet the overall business strategies.
2. Affiliate brand ambassador programs
This type of affiliate program tries to create sales by leveraging the marketing efforts of brand ambassadors. Affiliate brand ambassadors advertise products and services on their platforms, through which their audience can make purchases via a unique affiliate link that links back to them.
In exchange, they get paid a commission on every sale that is complete. Tiered incentives are common: the higher an affiliate brand ambassador’s compensation share, the greater the sales.
3. Informal brand ambassador programs
Informal brand ambassador programs are an open invitation from your brand to anyone who is a fan. There are no signed agreements or obligations with this type of program. There are seldom any monetary incentives, though some firms do offer incentives to their top-performing ambassadors.
An informal brand ambassador program is excellent for spreading the word and earning recommendations. It can be challenging to track and optimize your new customers if you don’t have any structure.
4. College brand ambassador programs
Colleges and universities are ideal places to establish a brand ambassador program since they have many students who naturally flock together and have similar interests. College brand ambassadors are not only social media savvy, but they can also spread the word via word of mouth and wearing your merch where others can see (i.e., sticker bombs, branded outfits).
This form of brand ambassador program concentrates on the 18-25 age group and comes with a lot of updated and creative potential. Moreover, college students are eager to obtain hands-on experience and will love to promote your brand in exchange for complimentary products and professional growth.
Figure 2: Starbucks runs a popular college ambassador program. Source: Instagram
Create A Brand Ambassador Program In 5 Easy Steps
The upside of creating a brand ambassador program is that it is highly customizable — this rests the power in your hand to develop one that suits your specific requirements. You get to decide whether to keep a handful of influencers in your marketing arsenal or go all-out campaigning. You get to call the shots on this one!
Here is a guide to get you started on putting together a brand ambassador program.
Step-1: Define goals for the brand ambassador program
Before diving into how to start a brand ambassador program, define specific goals. Starting on the right foot will help to convey what you expect your ambassadors to accomplish. While goals may differ based on where you are in your brand journey, the most common ones include raising awareness, increased sales, acquiring social media followers, etc.
You will be tracking metrics based on online engagement. Hence, try to accompany the goals with hashtags and phrases that your ambassadors will use to create mentions.
Step-2: Establish policies and guidelines for your ambassadors
Ambassadors come in all forms, from being fans to employees. Predefining what your “brand-fit” looks like will eliminate and simplify the confusion that can result when you put the word out about the brand ambassador search.
Adding structure to your brand ambassador program conveys professionalism and commitment to your potential ambassadors.
Some things to consider including in your ambassador selection guidelines are:
- How long have they been your brand’s fans?
- Do they have a substantial level of influence on others?
- Have they been engaging with your brand in the past?
- Does their personal brand align with your brand philosophy?
Based on these criteria, you can now define guidelines such as:
- How often will they post on your behalf?
- What type of content will they create along with hashtags or specific words?
- What will all their promotional channels be online as well as offline?
- What will be the tracking and follow-up schedule?
Furnish your ambassadors with a style guide and convey ‘dos and don’ts’. Since they represent your brand, make sure you convey the level of professionalism expected while keeping their uniqueness in the blend.
Step-3: Shortlist and reach out to potential ambassadors
There are many ways you can find the best brand ambassadors for your brand from the ocean of candidates out there.
Take help from social media
The simplest of all: Do a social media search based on hashtags used by your brand or even mentions of your brand on platforms. However, remember that not everyone who comes up on your search is a good candidate. Refer to your guidelines before reaching out.
Use software programs
There is no dearth of options when it comes to using technology to aid your search. They make the work of finding ambassadors a breeze by doing it all in one single place. Brand ambassador software helps you manage the running of your entire brand ambassador program from a single dashboard.
Your customer data should ideally be your first point of search. It gives you a clear picture of who buys the most from you. Customers who frequently buy from your brand mean they already love you and may be open to considering signing up for your brand ambassador program.
Influencer marketing platforms
Similar to software, influencer marketing programs can also carry out the legwork on your behalf. They analyze indicators like following numbers, engagement rates, audience reach and interests, and more, using a pre-vetted database and in-depth data. Set criteria based on your tastes, and the platform will show you your best matches.
Set up an application process
Another great way to attract the right candidate is to publish a pre-made application form. The form (or a link to the form) can be included in targeted emails, post-sales messages, and other pages on your website that customers visit. The benefit to this approach is that only those who are truly interested in representing the brand will apply.
The form can tell you important information, such as why the buyer bought your product and why they adore your brand. Inquire whether they’d be willing to share your products with their contacts regularly. The responses you receive will help you establish the customer’s suitability as a brand ambassador and offer you an idea of their personal content’s voice.
Step-4: Recognize and incentivize star ambassadors
Once you sign up your brand ambassadors, the final step to sealing the deal is to think of the rewards and incentives you will give to keep them motivated. The goal is to cultivate and retain relationships with your ambassadors for a long time.
Think along the lines of what your ambassadors would love to receive from you. The rewards may not necessarily be monetary. Make sure ambassadors understand what’s in it for them by working with you and when they can expect them.
Keep them engaged by asking for their feedback and suggestions that help them feel valued as a team. Consider this as an important tip for the success of your brand ambassador program.
Some ways to show gratitude to your ambassadors:
- A handwritten thank you card
- Special mentions and shoutouts on social media platforms
- Award them “ambassador of the month” badge
Figure 3: Happy Earth celebrates its brand ambassadors. Source: Happy Earth
Step-5: Keep track of the progress of your brand ambassador program
Once your brand ambassador program builds momentum, you will find a lot of data being generated. Do not lose out on this information mine because the treasure of insights into your customer’s choices lies here. Start tracking all the pre-agreed-upon metrics based on performance indicators such as impressions, reposts, mentions, etc. Also, a dedicated analytics tool can help keep track of the ambassador deliverables and rewards given out for the same.
Best Practices For Building Brand Ambassador Programs
- A sound onboarding process
Even your most loyal consumers should be informed about your brand ambassador policies. Whether it’s a one-on-one meeting, an email drip campaign, or a zoom call, be sure you’ve covered all the bases before you start promoting the relationship.
- Be accessible
Make sure brand ambassadors can readily contact you with questions or suggestions and that you answer promptly.
- Update periodically
Are you planning to launch a new marketing campaign? Are you introducing any new products? Notify your brand ambassadors via newsletters or emails. Brand ambassadors must provide regular updates to their audience to promote new content.
- Encourage authenticity
The goal of a brand ambassador program is to use your ambassador’s social influence to spread the word about your firm. Ambassadors should constantly promote your brand genuinely and in their voice, in addition to presenting basic brand rules.
- Solicit feedback
Ambassadors are invested in your brand’s success. They can provide fresh perspectives which will help your campaign flourish. Ambassadors can even try out new items and give detailed feedback before releasing them to the general public.
- Also, offer feedback
Even as you congratulate ambassadors on their achievements, you should also provide constructive criticism. Suggest ways they can better advertise your company without impeding their creative control.
- Communicate regularly
Don’t hesitate to follow up or ask for updates from each ambassador. Set a reasonable schedule individually or as a group for scrum meets as agreed beforehand.
- Improve the program (using data)
Your brand, ambassadors, and audience will evolve — so should your brand ambassador program! Examine all of your data to find what your audience prefers and convert them into customers. Then, tweak your schedule so that you optimally maximize your efforts.
Success Stories: Brand Ambassador Program Examples
Image 4: Xbox ambassadors are a network of gamers turning to a community promoting safe gaming. Source: Xbox
Xbox has seeped into the passion of being a gamer that only a dedicated gamer can appreciate. Ambassadors are all ardent gamers and tech enthusiasts who enjoy the brand’s offerings and would talk to anyone who would listen. Xbox rewards its ambassadors with invitation to playdates, Xbox Community Game Club, community chat groups, entry into exclusive Xbox surveys, and working up to reach the ultimate exclusive rewards.
Image 5: Lululemon celebrates its brand ambassadors. Source: Lululemon
Lululemon has created an outstanding example of engaging brand ambassadors. Their brand ambassador program is as evolved as it gets and is now a huge community of brand supporters. They have diversified their ambassador program into three categories: Global, Elite, and Store Ambassadors, each with a unique strategy. Their brand ambassador program is the centrepiece of their marketing strategy and is now a community-driven brand.
Ready To Enlist Your Army Of Supporters?
The more people talk about you (positively!) on social media, the better it is for a brand. A brand ambassador program does just that and so much more. Hopefully, this brand ambassador program guide can serve as a good starting point for creating your program to enlist your army of supporters.
Beyond that make sure to register your interest with Atisfyreach to tap into its AI-based matchmaking platform to find just the ambassadors you are looking for.