Firstly, what is a brand ambassador? Well, put simply, a brand ambassador is a person who represents and talks about your brand or organisation publicly in a positive way. They are endorsers and champions of your brand, and their aim is to get as many people buying into it as possible.
Quite often, when people think of brand ambassadors, what tends to come to mind are celebrities in commercials – Tiger Woods, for instance, promoting sports equipment, or perhaps Jennifer Anniston plugging beauty products. These days, though, with the unforgiving blossoming of social media, brand ambassadors need not be celebrities at all, and you don’t have to fork out hundreds of thousands of dollars for a television commercial to use a brand ambassador to promote your product either.
Social media brand ambassadors (or SMBAs as they have been dubbed) are people who do this sort of promotion for you on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc.
Are Brand Ambassadors Really Effective?
The right ones saying the right things can be very beneficial indeed for your brand, and there are a number of reasons why this is so. Below we are going to take a closer look at the roles of brand ambassadors, why they work as promoters of your brand, and how you can make the most of them when it comes to generating brand awareness and ultimately business.
Humanizing Your Product
As the world of commerce has gone online, it has resulted in plenty of websites where consumers are essentially purchasing from a faceless entity – your brand. Although this is obviously working to a great extent (I can’t see Amazon going out of business any time soon), if you really want to drive your online sales, then getting a brand ambassador on board can really start to put a human touch, a face and a voice to your company.
Organisations traditionally brand themselves through the use of logos, symbols and taglines, but with social media there comes an opportunity to do so much more. By nature, ambassadors will be emotionally engaged with either your products, your brand or your message, and, as they declare their espousal to you across Facebook or Twitter or what have you, what they are essentially doing is affirming the value of your brand that you are promising to deliver to your customers.
The Loyalty Ripple Effect
The “Loyalty Ripple Effect” suggests that your most loyal customers do not only create value in predictable sales and profit streams, but, through word-of-mouth (WOM) communication can actually generate new business via “recommendations to prospective and other existing customers of the firm.” Now, this paper was actually written way back in the dark ages of 1998 when WOM communications were just that – actual spoken recommendations to friends and family etc.
But the same holds true today, only now our WOM recommendations take place more and more in online spaces such as social media, and that is exactly where your most valuable SMBAs haunt. Their loyalty to your brand, as publicly displayed across these networks, have a very positive effect on anyone who encounters their endorsements. Indeed, people trust recommendations from real people much more than they advertisements from the actual selling company itself.
Social Horsepower produce this table below showing the influence of brand ambassadors across social media:
WOM marketing – whether it be the more traditional ‘spoken’ recommendations or through SMBAs – is no doubt the most impactful and trusted form of marketing going. Indeed, WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) have produced the following infographic detailing the true value of the technique.
The most staggering figure to pick out is of course the $6 trillion of annual consumer spending that WOM is responsible for. Now, obviously every business wants a piece of that – but the best part is that to acquire it through your brand ambassadors will cost you next to nothing – all you’ve got to do is keep them happy.
Rewarding Your Brand Ambassadors
Social Media Examiner suggests that brand ambassadors (or advocates) are naturally the type of people who will keep up the good work that they are doing for you online for free – cost effective indeed. They are generally a certain type of person who like to help others and to appear as knowledgeable and useful. They enjoy sharing information about your brand, much more than the average web user.
That being said, so valuable are these people to your marketing, your business and ultimately your profits, the last thing that you want to do is lose them (perhaps to a direct competitor). And so, below are some tips on how to keep your brand ambassadors loyal to you, and encourage them to maintain their positive WOM marketing campaigning.
1. Send Them An Email Of Thanks
It goes without saying that every time one of your brand ambassadors mentions you favourably on social media that you should ‘like’, reply to and share their comment. But, if you go one step further and send them an email of appreciation of their support for your brand, this will prove to be even more exciting for them and they will feel acknowledged and truly valuable to your company. Indeed, this will even likely inspire them to get posting again, this time declaring what a delightful and thoughtful company you are – which in turn might inspire others to try and do the same.
2. Offer Them A Discount, Free Gift or Voucher
Actions speak louder than words, so, whilst your emailing your SMBA with your deepest thanks, why not offer them something for free as a reward for their great service to your company. They will of course be pleased as Punch to receive such a gift, and such a gesture will be so much more cheaper to you than paying for any form of advertising.
3. Feature Them On Your Blog
Featuring your SMBA on your blog is perhaps one of the most memorable rewards that you can bestow upon them. Since brand ambassadors like to think of themselves as more than just fans, they will be thrilled to be featured in direct association with your brand or product. Invite them to write a guest post for you, and you might well find that it gets shared more often than anything you’ve ever put up before.
Indeed, SMBAs love meeting people online, and are 3 times more likely than your average follower to share brand information with someone that they don’t know online. Their desire to influence people and share information make naturally give them a much farther reach than any of your other followers. So, keep rewarding them well, and they’ll keep rewarding you with top notch WOM marketing that simply can’t be bought.