Published on February 27, 2014
Community Management Tips Building a Brand Advocacy Program Discover how to find the right brand ambassadors, get them onboard and keep them active and engaged over time.
Community Management Tips Building a Brand Advocacy Program In the digital age, peer-to-peer recommendations are the most powerful advertising tools available. By leveraging pre-existing fans, you can increase brand awareness, develop strong customer loyalties and facilitate valuable customer feedback loops. Deciding to launch a brand ambassador program means preparing to activate advocates all over the globe. When done right, fostering brand advocacy can lead to company wide benefits, including an increase in sales and positive brand sentiment, as well as greater share of voice in your industry space. Read on to discover how to find the right brand ambassadors, get them onboard and keep them active and engaged over time. 1. Initial Considerations 2. Getting Advocates Onboard 3. Keeping Your Ambassadors Engaged HootSuite Media Inc. Brand Advocacy | 2
1. Initial Considerations Deciding to develop a Brand Ambassador program doesn’t mean starting from scratch. If you’re active on social media, then there’s a good chance your customers and fans are as well. The key to building a strong advocacy program lies in leveraging existing communities, here’s a few ways how: Sourcing Fans: The best place to look for ambassadors is in already established communities. Look for users that have high social media activity, a large influence over their following and, most importantly, interact positively with your brand. Utilize already established email lists from your CRM, newsletters or partners. As well, try to source enthusiasts at both online and offline networking events. Strategic Influencers: “The secret to cultivating a successful brand advocacy program is quality over quantity. It is better to start with a few dedicated individuals with specialized talents and then look to scale over time.” - Stephanie Wiriahardja Community Manager, Global Ambassador Lead @stephawie As you build up your community of brand ambassadors, it’s vital to be strategic with who you target at the beginning. A great way to find influencers is by narrowing down your prospects by using monitoring and measurement tools; rate a scorecard to measure specific criteria around potential influencers. You want to attract industry professionals, with high influence and large followings. This way, after you establish an amicable relationship, you will be able to leverage these individuals in the future. Employee Evangelists: Employees are powerful advocates for your brand and can aid in amplifying your sales and marketing efforts. By integrating social media organization wide, you enable each and every one of your employees to extend your brand’s reach. HootSuite Media Inc. Brand Advocacy | 3
2. Getting Advocates Onboard Once you have identified who you’d like to join the program, you will need to develop a strategy to get them onboard and excited about your new initiative. Be sure to develop the program around valuable opportunities and rewards for the participants. Here’s a few ways how: “To justify creating a brand Communication: to sustain the program in The way you communicate to your prospective ambassadors is key to the sign up success rate. Be sure to set clear expectations at the beginning, framing your messaging around the program’s benefits so that individuals know what to expect. Get them excited to join by offering exclusive access to knowledge, swag and opportunities for networking and volunteer work experience. Program Architecture: Before you can activate your ambassador community, you need to have a place for them to go. Whether it be on Google+, Facebook or a private community, providing a space for conversation is vital. The key is to get your ambassadors talking amongst themselves; once they begin connecting with other like-minded, industry professionals, they will become a self sustaining community. ambassador program you need to tie it to ROI. But the long run, you need to continually focus on the benefits for your participants.” - David Kyle Community Coordinator, APAC @davidwkyle Allow Them to Integrate: A large part of becoming a brand ambassador is the opportunity to get closer to a brand you love. By integrating ambassadors into the company fabric, you will attract higher quality candidates who genuinely care about making your product better. Allow your ambassadors to take on leadership roles, such as organizing branded events or hosting Twitter chats. Consider offering ambassadors greater professional visibility by encouraging them to add their role to their LinkedIn; this empowers them to speak confidently about your brand and in turn, increase word of mouth marketing. HootSuite Media Inc. Brand Advocacy | 4
3. Keep Your Ambassadors Engaged A well structured Ambassador program will expand rapidly. Before you know it, with hundreds of brand advocates, you will be challenged with keeping them engaged and avoiding attrition. You may even want to consider having a program lead within your organization. Celebrate Them: From time to time, put your ambassadors in the spotlight. Whether it be a guest blog post, tickets to an offline networking event or a simple tweet from your brand’s handle. Giving ambassadors VIP treatment will make them feel appreciated and inspired. Provide opportunities for them to meet with executives directly; since they are working hard to advocate for your organization, you need to reward their efforts appropriately. Gamification: Gamifying your ambassador program is a great way to keep things fun and engaging for participants. A little healthy internal competition between ambassadors can infuse your program with energy and self sustaining momentum by offering your ambassadors badges or exclusive swag for completing tasks. These tasks could include: hosting a meetup event in their city, testing new technologies via beta access, or attending industry events as a live tweeter. Access to Education: “One of the most important considerations when comes to fostering a successful brand ambassador program is to remember to give before you ask. Ensure that you have provided value or an incentive to your brand ambassadors before asking anything of them. This foundation of a mutually beneficial relationship will help lay the foundation for ongoing success.” - Destin Haynes Director, Freemium Community @destinfall Offer access to industry experts within your company; this can be via webinars, Google hangouts or simply shared curated content. It’s important to always circle back on the benefits and reasons why your ambassadors joined the program and ensure that the relationship stays mutually beneficial. On the other hand, allow ambassadors to take leadership roles in which they would get to be the educators and experts. In turn, they will feel tightly integrated into your company’s fabric and highly invested in the program. HootSuite Media Inc. Brand Advocacy | 5
Want more Community Tips? Find them every month on blog.hootsuite.com or follow @HootClub on Twitter for updates. @hootclub /hootsuite /company/hootsuite /+hootsuite HootSuite Media Inc. Brand Advocacy | 6
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