Beyond Engagement: How to Find & Build Brand Ambassadors
There are many catchphrases that are populated throughout social media marketing. One of them is “engagement.” It’s become a word synonymous with every social media marketing pitch in existence, and rightfully so. You need it. Once you have it, what’s next?
Getting to the people is one thing, but getting the people to tell the people about you is the next level. It can have more of an effect than the best engagement in the social media world. It’s about finding and building “Brand Ambassadors” and it is perhaps the most important single activity you can do in your standard social media marketing day.
What is a Brand Ambassador?
There are many ways to define a Brand Ambassador. Some businesses prefer to look at them as people within the organization that are passionate about their job and that portray their role within the company in a positive light. Others see the Brand Ambassador role as something taken on by those unaffiliated with the company but with the extreme passion necessary to extend outside of the company’s own reach.
Here, we will go with a hybrid approach, understanding that true Brand Ambassadors are qualified by the one unique attribute: passion. There are other criteria that must be understood such as reach and relevance, but those are often side-effects rather than attributes.
With that in mind, the question changes from “What is a Brand Ambassador?” to “Who is Passionate About My Company?”
Why You Need Them
Today, society is less trusting of what brands say about themselves than they are about what others are saying about them. Peer recommendations hold 4 times as much weight as advertisements. As such, it’s imperative to build up a strong reputation based upon what others say about your business.
It’s all about incentive. You and your employees have an incentive to speak kindly about your brand. It’s your brand, therefore your opinion is almost invalid.
The recommendations of others define how many people make decisions. The advertisements may say that “Fast Five” is the best in the Fast and the Furious franchise to date, but critic and user reviews will help to determine how successful the movie is despite the hype. Bad reviews can tank the film in the first week.
The same holds true for your business. Regardless of how strong your marketing is, how amazing your product is, or how incredible your service is, there will be those who do not like it. Brand Ambassadors offer a hedge that can enhance not only the positioning of your brand in the minds of others, but can also influence the information that is found when people are researching your company on search engines and through social media and review sites.
How To Find Them
Ay, there’s the rub. It’s easy to dream of having an army of Brand Ambassadors, but reality creeps in and suddenly you see that nobody is saying anything good about you.
Finding the right people to promote your brand on their own is a key to success. How do you find them? Open your eyes. Ask. Rinse. Repeat.
Open Your Eyes
The people are there. If you’ve done the right things to build up your presence on Twitter and Facebook, you have people talking to and about you. Read what they are saying. Read what they’re saying about others in your industry. Talk to these people. It’s easy.
It sounds simple, but the easiest way to get reviews is to ask for them. Assume that some of the people following you on Twitter or liking your Facebook pages are satisfied customers. It’s not hard to get feedback from them – all you have to do is ask.
Finding people who are potentially Brand Ambassadors is the first step. Once you find candidates, you must take it to the next level. It’s time to learn…
How To Build Them
When I spoke to a client a couple of weeks ago about building Brand Ambassadors, she told me, “Oh, we’re already on that. I’ve built a dozen Twitter accounts already and we’re building more each week.”
That’s not what I had in mind.
“Building” Brand Ambassadors has nothing to do with creating more profiles. The worst mistake anyone can ever make in their business is to be completely insincere with their activities. Putting accounts into play that are supposed to be “ambassadors” is the sock-puppet way. You will get caught. You will be embarrassed. You will do damage.
Don’t do it.
Instead, use simple techniques to build real passion and engagement surrounding your brand.
See and Respond
Getting feedback is one thing. Opening up dialogue on a public or private level is a necessity when looking for Brand Ambassadors. If someone gives you a compliment, make certain to keep the dialogue going. Don’t just say, “Thank you for the kind words.” Ask more questions directly at the people who express a liking towards your business. If they say good things, get them involved.
Many will consider this to be a very controversial technique. It should never be viewed as such. It happens every day. Why do radio stations send out “prize patrols” looking for people who have their bumper sticker on their vehicles? It’s not that they hope people will listen more by putting on bumper stickers. It’s because having people driving around with those bumper stickers exposes the brand to other people in vehicles. It’s worked for years and will continue to work. Without knowing it, the presence of these bumper stickers is a form of Brand Ambassadorship.
The controversial part happens when you do it wrong. Recently, Microsoft Bing made a major mistake in the way they tried to solicit Brand Ambassadors. They attached their message to a tragedy and really made people mad despite (allegedly) good intentions.
Instead, the incentives that you want to offer to people who are promoting your message should be geared around more transparent methods.
Toyota had their Tweetathon event late last year that got a ton of people retweeting their message. Better, but it’s still not the best way to do it. They didn’t build Brand Ambassadors. They just gave away incentives for Tweets – a one-time benefit.
Incentives must be personal. These are separate from retweet or Facebook like campaigns. Brand Ambassador incentives can be geared around contests, writeups, videos, and direct gratification. You’re not looking for a retweet. You’re looking for a steady stream of influence coming from people because they love your brand and they get something out of expressing their love.
Assuming you’ve accepted the need to find and build Brand Ambassadors, it’s time to take action. Start by looking at your current feeds. Somewhere, there are people who have been talking to or about you in a positive light. It may have been days, weeks, even months, but re-engage with them.
People enjoy feeling special. They want to be a part of an organization that they like even if they aren’t directly involved. Reach out to these people. Acknowledge that their input has been helpful to you and you would like more of it. Let them know that you are aware of their opinions and beliefs and that you would like to grow the relationship even more.
Remember, it’s not what you say about yourself. It’s what others say about you and your company that hold the most weight. Take advantage of the potential with Brand Ambassadors. They can do more for your business than you even know.