As brands enjoy growing success on social media, many choose to amplify their reach and further their social media success via volunteer brand ambassadors. In a recent podcast recording with Justine Velcich, Manager of Global Community Programs at Hootsuite, we discussed the key factors behind Hootsuite’s Brand Ambassador Program, which has grown from 55 ambassadors to 1,400 in only three years.
My co-host for this podcast is Mel Attia, V.P. of Marketing at Vanilla Forums.
For any brand ambassador program to succeed, a brand needs to first develop a cadre of enthusiastic fans on social media. Typically, these are connections who use the brand’s product, share their content, and respond positively to the opportunity of having a closer relationship with the brand and the people behind it.
This last point is especially important, because a brand may not be willing to forge the deep connections with its ambassadors that are necessary to keep their brand ambassador program active and alive. Without that commitment, long-term success is unlikely.
Brand ambassadors can play a valuable role in extending a brand’s reach in social media. Many social media users may first become aware of the brand via an ambassador. That means trusting ambassadors to create the right first impression.
Obviously, you can’t let just anyone become an ambassador. You need an application process, which means you also need standards. One way to develop those standards is to make a list of the characteristics of a perfect ambassador, such as:
Add as many characteristics as you need to describe your bran’s ideal ambassador.
Since most applicants will not come as a package deal with all of the traits you seek, you will need to determine which characteristics you can live without, and which are absolute prerequisites.
If your program is fairly new or has yet to attract a lot of ambassadors, the focus should be on quantity, and you will need to be more accepting of applicants who do not meet all of your criteria. This is true for two reasons:
From day one, you will want to track how much each of your ambassadors contributes to the success of your program. This information will help you refine your criteria for acceptance in the program.
As your brand ambassador program grows in size and becomes more influential, who should be an ambassador (and who should not) will be clarified by the data. At this point you will want to change the balance of your recruitment from relying heavily on quantity to being more driven by applicant quality.
Justine Velcich describes in our podcast how Hootsuite, which at first cast a large net for ambassadors, is transitioning from a quantity-driven to a quality-driven brand ambassador program.
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