Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “There is power in unity and there is power in numbers.” While an idea may stem from one person, it takes many people and much hard work to put it into action. At Mobilize, we’ve seen many organizations experience exponential growth by bringing people together around a shared idea. Imagine how rapidly you could grow your customer base if you multiplied yourself by 100? That’s exactly what can happen when you launch a brand ambassador program.
What exactly is a brand ambassador program?
A brand ambassador program is a community of users and customers who love your product and use it regularly. Brand ambassadors are the people who adore your product so much that they want to help you promote it. They’re huge fans. When you create a program for these people, you’re giving them an opportunity to help you build brand awareness.
Companies like Hootsuite, Prezi, and Vinted have expanded their networks by launching successful brand ambassador programs. They’ve also empowered people to become leaders, and rally around a shared passion. At Hootsuite, the ambassadors’ success is aligned with the company’s main objective. Hootsuite’s ambassadors are not only spreading the word at HootUps, but they are actually becoming better at social media (it’s their job!). Prezi’s student ambassadors actually want to be amazing presenters and spread ideas, which is at the core of Prezi’s mission. For Ro Hensley, Vinted’s Global Community Lead, a community of “Vintees” created their own magazine for the brand that reached 2 million users. “All it took was a small task force of some of our ambassadors to get that wheel in motion,” she said.
Relationships with people are the key to an amazing brand ambassador program. This should be an exciting journey for you—and it will be—once you know how to lay a solid foundation.
How can I launch a successful brand ambassador program?
1. Identify the right people in your ecosystem
First question: Who are your ambassadors? They can be your top customers, influencers, local meetup organizers, or campus reps. For B2B companies especially, they could be resellers or independent consultants. Besides spreading the word about your brand, an effective program also engages and enriches your ambassadors – remember, they’re your partners, and you will be proud of their success.
2. Ask these questions in your application form
A robust application form should ask for their location, university or company; links to social profiles or portfolio; how they want to get involved (mentoring, organize meetups, etc); why they are applying; user level, rating or other engagement history; and why they love your brand.
3. Understand their goals
Consider your super users – or if you have ambassadors already, ask them – what do they want to get out of your brand ambassador program? Here are 5 ideas to spur your thoughts:
- • Do they want to build their resume?
- • Get awesome swag?
- • Eventually join your company?
- • For business solutions, do they want to host free workshops and then get hired as consultants?
- • Or get the inside scoop and improve in their current role?
4. Build a real plan
They expect you to be professional and they want to learn from the experience. Define your brand ambassador program objectives, milestones, and rewards.
For example, Lyft relies on their ambassadors to recruit new drivers, so their plan focuses clearly on revenue performance.
Hootsuite explains that ambassadors will advocate, share content, provide insight and feedback, create a local Hootsuite presence, and host events.
5. Build trust and transparency
Keep your ambassador network in the loop before announcing important news with the public. They are actually your partners – you don’t want them to be the last to hear! “We have Prezi Experts all over the world whose livelihoods depend on our product,” explains Ashley Whitlatch, Prezi’s Head of Global Programs & Partnerships. Furthermore, communicating with partners in a transparent way demonstrates trust and opens a channel for valuable feedback.
6. Keep a clear, open channel for feedback
No matter what communication tool you choose, make it very clear that you’re open for feedback and criticism. It will not only help you to create better trust among your ambassadors, but also help you to actually improve your product.
7. Don’t underestimate the value of praise
While swag and exclusive invitations are wonderful benefits, public recognition is so valuable because it helps ambassadors advance in their career, makes them attractive job candidates, and is a huge morale boost. Just like praising your own team.
Don’t be afraid to retweet them, or to share their content through your official company channels. Just be careful not to only praise your top performers – make sure that all of your ambassadors feel valued.
8. Use tools that help you communicate, build relationships, and track your success
There are many options for how to communicate and build relationships, even with a large group. First, keep a database of your network members, and collect as much information about them as you can. Then, find a channel that’s easiest for you – whether it’s Facebook groups, group SMS, or mailing lists. We built Mobilize to organize all your brand ambassadors and build strong relationships with them at scale. Ro Hensley at Vinted relies heavily on her operations to send the right message to the right ambassadors.
“I can finally organize all my previously scattered data about our community ambassadors, beta testers and bloggers,” explains Hensley. “And it’s integrated into a messaging system. That’s very powerful.”
And by success, we mean that you can amplify yourself to the enormous reach of your ambassadors, let them speak about your brand with an authentic voice, align your objectives with the aspirations of your ambassadors, and empower your mutual success.