Only forty-seven percent of people around the world say they trust earned media — including recommendations from friends, family, and online reviews — above all other forms of advertising. This is down from a sizeable sixty-six percent in 2015. Consumer brands and nonprofits are harnessing the power of social media ambassadors to build excitement and spread the word about new products or initiatives. Social ambassadors can help raise brand awareness, drive website traffic, generate sales or donations, grow brand communities, and earn back the trust that advertising has lost over these past few years. Unlocking the power of social media ambassadors is essential to meeting your digital marketing and business goals.
Here’s how to build an ambassador program for your business.
DEFINE THE PROGRAM
Identify your goals and objectives.
With your social ambassador program, are you hoping to build brand awareness, drive website traffic, sell products, generate donations or sign up volunteers? Will you utilize social ambassadors for years or just a few weeks? Before you can build a social ambassador program, you must clearly articulate why you need ambassadors and ensure your team is aware of these goals. Also, be sure your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
Create your ambassador persona.
Social media ambassadors are individuals who are already passionate about your brand or cause and may be willing to share your brand story or message with family and friends. Before building a list of social media influencers and reaching out, define the ambassador persona that specifically fits your needs, so you’re searching for and enlisting the right people for your campaign. This persona may include details like age, gender, location, interests and even buying habits.
Offer an incentive.
Giving influencers a reason to be an ambassador up front will give an extra push to join your program. You can offer rewards or recognition, but it’s essential for ambassadors to know their contribution is valued. Consider granting ambassadors exclusive access to content or rewards — like a discount only they can use, or insider information on company initiatives.
Clarify the commitment.
Social media influencers need to know exactly what they are signing up for. Will you ask them to share a social media post? Email a friend? Make a checklist of the minimum you will ask of your ambassadors. Keep it realistic, but let them know you’ll enable them to go above and beyond.
An ambassador program with no ambassadors is worthless, so recruitment is key. Use owned, earned and paid media to reach and engage potential recruits. Prioritize influential ambassadors who can help spread the word to their large audiences.
Use owned media.
Owned media, like your company’s website or social media channels, should be the biggest avenue for recruitment because most ambassadors are likely already aware of or involved with your organization. Use a compelling email campaign to drive to a dedicated landing page with more information. Your landing page should offer a centralized place for potential ambassadors to learn about the program and sign up. Immediately follow up with automated emails to thank and enable new recruits.
Use earned media.
Earned media creates a special opportunity to personally engage with ambassadors on social media or face-to-face. Take advantage of your leadership team or brand spokespeople to personally recruit new ambassadors — for example, via a personalized email or direct message. Ask newly recruited ambassadors to invite others to join the movement. Consider a Facebook or Twitter Live video from your company CEO, or brand influencers inviting participation and/or thanking recruits.
Use paid media.
Paid media allows for specific targeting, which is where your ambassador persona will come in handy. Use your ideal ambassador to define targeting for ads on social and digital platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Google. Develop email segments by gathering information on past purchasers or volunteers. Then, use Facebook custom audiences to upload these segments to and target ads to them.
Email your ambassadors.
Email works, so use it. Keep your ambassadors posted on how they can help with your campaign and give them the opportunity to share pre-scripted social posts. Quickly and directly communicate your messages, send out updates on progress, and engage your ambassadors regularly.
Build an ambassador microsite or Facebook group.
One great way to activate your community is creating a microsite. An example of this is the Lyme disease ambassador program site. Offer information on the role of an ambassador, the goals of the program and all the tools needed to further your mission. Design your microsite to enable above and beyond ambassadorship. If you don’t have the resources to build a dedicated microsite, invite your ambassadors to a private group on Facebook where you can directly share brand messages and ambassadors can connect with each other.
Engage on social.
Follow your ambassadors on social media from your company’s channels, monitor their conversations, and engage where appropriate, whether giving a “like” to positive brand content or a “thank you” reply. Consider using a dedicated hashtag for your ambassador campaign in all communications to generate campaign awareness and archive campaign activity. Ask your ambassadors to use this hashtag in their communications, too. Repurpose unique ambassador content on your company social channels and give them credit.
Keep ambassadors focused on a goal.
In all communication, remind ambassadors why they are involved. You may need to raise $500,000 or promote a new product. Ambassadors can’t forget that they are an incredibly valuable part of your campaign until the goal is met! Once the goal is met, you can celebrate and thank your ambassadors.
Offer sharing tools.
Offer ambassadors the tools to recruit others, like campaign logos, branded profile photo templates, pre-scripted emails, and social posts. These tools make sharing easy and fun! Your ambassadors feel like insiders by receiving instant access to engaging content to activate their community.
NURTURE LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS
Stay in contact.
Keep in touch with ambassadors via emails and social media interactions. They want to hear from you. Provide updates on progress towards your goal and how they are helping the cause. Remember: passionate people want to make a change.
Make ambassadors feel valued.
Give them access to better resources to remain closely connected with your organization. During our Transcend the Transaction webinar, Jay Baer suggested we give our social media influencers exclusive insight to support your upcoming campaigns. Share specific stories of how digital ambassadors impact the end goal of your organization. Release your next video to them exclusively before the public. Make ambassadors understand their value and keep them more knowledgeable about your organization. Exclusive content tailored just for ambassadors will jumpstart more conversation and solidify their passion.
Have any questions about how to build your ambassador program? We can help! Start a conversation with us today to learn how a customized social strategy can benefit your brand.