How to build an effective ambassador program
For a clearer understanding of what constitutes an ambassador program, as opposed to an influencer campaign, see our previous blog Here we talk about setting your goals and starting with why you want to create your ambassador program. Now you have set your goals for the program it’s time to start building it.
- The make-up: who should be part of your ambassador team?
Before you dive in to frantically naming any influencer using your products an ambassador, it is important to ensure you have given sufficient thought to who the right people are for the program, both individually and the team make-up. Create an ambassador persona that reflects this. You need to consider your brand ‘why’, does this align with their ‘why’? Your brand ethos, is that the influencers ethos? Your goals, do they align with the potential ambassadors’ goals?
Once you have a clear persona(s) sketched out, it is all about creating a community, or even family atmosphere within the group. 361° are a perfect example of a brand that has created the family feeling within their ambassador group. One of the key reasons for this is they ensure their European ambassador program join the company at least once a year for an annual meet-up. The success of this annual weekend has resulted in the group becoming closer than the brand could have imagined, and the role of 361° ambassador becoming a sought-after position.
- Controlling ambassador teams
Ambassador programs are complex because of one very simple factor; you are dealing with human beings, and of course you yourself are human. There are many reasons that your being human can create challenges and these are mostly time and resources related. The good news is these can relatively easily be mitigated by using a tool to find, manage, communicate, and track your ambassador programs. The ambassadors themselves being human can be more of a challenge. We have found three reasons why ambassador relationships can stray.
First, is alignment. Does the ambassadors’ why, purpose, and ethos align with your brand goals and purpose? If you are able to select those that do align, your relationship will likely start on the right foot which can safeguard you from issues further down the line.
The second consideration is a loss of control. Large brands can have hundreds of ambassadors that are typically managed by local distributors and retailers. Ensuring there is consistent messaging can be a significant challenge. Similarly, ensuring that those distributors and retailers do not appoint new ambassadors or send out product without head office knowing is crucial for the harmony of the program. Using a tool which all parties can access, as well have having clear messaging on the program can help the brand maintain control.
The final point to consider is communication. To reiterate, you are working with people and attempting to build a relationship with them. If you do not communicate with them effectively there is no way you are going to achieve your goals. This may require a specific resource to prioritise this, though it is the key to a successful program.
- Monitoring you ambassador program
As mentioned above, the simplest way to do this is using a tool. Scrolling through hundreds of Instagram feeds, watching endless stories and YouTube videos, hoping to screenshot a particular frame, is simply inefficient. A tool will allow you to see all your ambassadors in once place, where you’ll see their content and what they are saying about your brand. On the Freestak platform you can categorise your ambassadors so you can view results in any form, e.g. by country, gender, or over a specific time period. You can see who is producing the most content, engagements and reach for you, and who might not be delivering. All of this is downloadable as an excel sheet so you can share the data with all stakeholders.
- When is the right time to start an ambassador programme?
We have seen many examples of brands committing to ambassador programs and then seeing strong return. However, it is not as simple as flicking a switch to begin. Rarely in marketing do you launch straight into the premier campaign. Typically, we start with A/B split tests, market research, and survey brand sentiment. The same is true with establishing your ambassador program. Test before you commit. Start with an influencer seeding campaign where you work with a large group on a one-off campaign. This may help inform your ambassador persona, perhaps those that performed well in the campaign were not who you initially thought of. From your initial campaign you can recruit the best performing to become your first ambassadors.
One thing that we see a lot at the moment is that good content creators, people that are making great content and have a really engaged and active audience are more and more in demand. More established programs out there are at risk of snapping up the strong talent so now really does become the time to act.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the second-best time is today.