The power of brand ambassadors is undeniable. A 2012 Nielsen study reveals that 92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth marketing or recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.
And with the continued explosion of social media, mobile and other technology tools, creating opportunities to turn your most influential supporters into motivated champions for your products, services or causes has never been more paramount than today.
So, where do you begin?
Identify your star brand ambassadors: Well, first, you’ll need a plan to identify your star brand ambassadors, all of the people out there who love your brand and have the influence and desire to share that enthusiasm with others. Just about every business or organization has plenty of them, but they just haven’t been identified or utilized, YET.
Give advocates good reasons to do meaningful things for your brand: It usually takes more than just a polite ask to get your advocates to do something meaningful for the brand. You need to give them a reason to take action, and what better way to reward them for their efforts than with your own products or services? One interesting example of this is Ford, where 100 socially-active consumers were selected to drive around the U.S. in Ford Fiestas and completed appealing monthly missions related to volunteerism, adventure, style and design, broadcasting the results of the missions and adventures on YouTube, flickr, Facebook and Twitter. In exchange, they enjoyed driving around in a new Ford Fiesta for free.
Decide what you want them to do that will have the most impact on your business: Perhaps, it’s asking them to invite their Facebook friends to “like your page,” or getting them to check-in at locations and take a picture of your product in the store and share it on Instagram. Whatever that may be come up with a plan that utilizes your brand ambassadors in the most effective ways possible.
Organize the troops: This is not meant literally, but figuratively speaking, your army of brand ambassadors. You’ll need an organized campaign that clearly tells your advocates what they need to do, how to do it, and what’s in it for them. Keep your program simple in order to get maximum participation.
Layer-in a healthy dose of competition: People love to be challenged, so make the program more than just a way to enjoy great perks, challenge them with games and competitions to be the biggest brand ambassador for a chance to win something really big.
Share their endorsements through your own outreach: Once you have started generating some nice buzz and traction through your brand ambassadors, share what they are saying and doing, wherever possible, in your e-newsletter, during sales presentations, on your website and blog, other social media channels, etc.
Whether your company is large or small, every brand has a story to tell and valuable communities of fans, followers and supporters to help you tell that story. So utilize, reward and nourish them. You’ll be thankful that you did.
Olivier Baudoux is the founder & CEO of San Diego-based DrivAd, Inc. DrivAd is a unique customer engagement program that matches organizations with their ideal brand ambassadors (aka DrivAdvocates™), turning them into motivated influencers for their products, services or causes in exchange for valuable rewards and a great sense of pride.
DrivAd was born in 2012 from Baudoux’s vision to create powerful and cost-effective ways for businesses to tap into their natural and most loyal brand ambassadors, who are typically under-utilized.