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5 Ways to Build an Effective Brand Ambassador Program

Why It’s Important

Incorporating Brand Ambassadors into a social media strategy allow future customers and members of the community to have firsthand access to the personal stories and opinions of members who are familiar and enthusiastic about a product or service. BAs are instrumental in establishing and building a company’s image by influencing current and future community members.

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According to Olivier Blanchard, the author of Social Media ROI, “Through the use of social media, organizations can breed loyalty in their members by interacting regularly with them, befriending them, and empowering them to make a difference. The magic stems from the fact that social media can help humanize communication to such a degree that genuine friendships can begin to form between an organization’s staff and the member they interact with.”

The key here is that BAs help to “humanize communications” by publicizing the community and generating conversation around a product or service.

Here are 5 ways to build a Brand Ambassador Program:

  1. Listen to customers- Who knows your brand better than your customers? Most likely people within your organization, but customers know exactly what they like about your product and/or service and can better articulate that to members within the community. Listen to your customers and find out what they like/dislike and what they would like to see more or less of.
  2. PLAN! PLAN! PLAN!- And then plan some more. Planning is extremely important when creating a Brand Ambassador Program and it’s more important to ensure that the program is aligned with the organization’s goals and objectives.
  3. The Inside Job- The best place to start for a BA program is from within an organization by engaging employees. Search for people within your organization who are already using social media and have a basic understanding of how things work. Utilize these people to be the first BAs for your organization.
  4. Be selective- Not everyone should be an advocate for your brand. Although you may have hundreds of willing individuals who express an interest in being a BA, not all of those people will be a good fit for your organization. Understand your organization’s personality and create a list of qualities you would like your BA’s to possess then select people who meet those qualifications.
  5. Make It Worth While- Although customers may love your organization, people are more likely to participate when there is an incentive. Get creative! Highlight your BAs in interviews or feature them on your website. Offer BAs discounts or free items that reflect the organization. 

Do you have a success story to share about your Brand Ambassador Program? If so, please share below.

A Panel Discussion with Community Managers

On April 7, 2014, our class had the opportunity to conduct a Google Hangout with four individuals who are established Community Managers in their respective organizations. The Google Hangout consisted of Alexandra Dao from Vimeo, Tracey Churray from Foursquare, Gavin O’Hara from Lenovo, and Caira Conner from PolicyMic. Each person shared their personal story as to how they started as community managers and shared advice on how to establish and build a community.

lenovo-logo-1432All About Connection
Gavin started off as the second person of Lenovo’s social media team four years ago. He currently manages social media content and focuses on moderating the company’s global Facebook page. One thing that Gavin pointed out was that sometimes, Community Managers Spend more time reacting to social media issues rather than being proactive and conducting more check points with users. He stated that “small gesture go a long ways” and that community managers should connect more with users. Gavin also discussed how he often connected with users by sending messages or participating in conversations within the community.

Weekend CelebrationsVimeo logo
Alex focuses on User and Community engagement as well as support at Vimeo. She discussed how she would like to interact more with users and find creative ways to encourage users to be more involved within the communities. For example, Alex’s team hosts “Weekend Challenges” with different themes that encourage users to interact and celebrate various things.

PolicyMic LogoSmart and Sharp
At Policy Mic, Caira currently focuses on building a community of rising journalists. Recently, PolicyMic shifted their areas of focus and is now trying to reach a larger community where the company’s content is “Smart and Sharp” and can be shared amongst various demographics. As the company has changed, Caira is promoting loyalty within the community by building on strategic partnerships and networks.

Super Usersfoursquare_logo
Tracey manages the entire community of users at Foursquare and ensures that content is properly managed.  Recently Foursquare launched a forum for “Super Users” that focuses on product direction and feedback within the community. The “Super Users” assist the company by providing ideas and different perspectives related to various topics. Tracey explained her support for Brand Ambassadors and how it is important to incorporate users and have users test and explore new ideas first.

At the end of the panel, it was clear to see that each Community Manager played a different role in their company although the positions were similar. One thing stands true- interacting with users within the community will always be essential for the community to succeed. Positive and personal interactions will always help strengthen a community.

Our Class Panel with Real-Life Community Managers

This past Tuesday, I logged on to my Google+ account for my bi-weekly CMGR class, which meets via Google Hangouts. Yet, this week’s class wasn’t the typical group discussion. This week, we had the pleasure of welcoming real-life community managers from extremely prestigious companies, such as Foursquare, Lenovo, PolicyMic, and Vimeo.

Every one of the community managers present, Tracey Churray (Foursquare), Gavin O’Hara (Lenovo), Caira Conner (PolicyMic), and Alex Dao (Vimeo), mentioned something that really stuck with me. Those little snippets were all connected to Brand Ambassador programs, which I think are an extremely important aspect to community management, as a whole.

Tracey Churray (Foursqaure)

Tracey Churray, Director of Support at Foursquare, the ever-popular “check-in” app company, got her start in the tech industry from a small email marketing service. After a number of years, she she was able to land her dream job at Foursquare, where she is able connect everyday with users of the app.

Fischer, John. "FourSquare." 2010 May 06. Online Image. Flickr. 2014 April 11.

Fischer, John. “FourSquare.” 2010 May 06. Online Image. Flickr. 2014 April 11.

Within the Foursquare community, Ms. Churray manages contact with the users at large, particularly with her “Superusers”. Superusers are exactly what they sound like; they are the Foursquare obsessed, the people who are extremely passionate about the use and success of the brand. These Superusers have had an incredible impact on the prominence of the Foursquare company. In fact, Tracey mentioned that she has asked for help from her Superusers and they assisted her in a very important task: creating the naming conventions in the Foursquare database!

Min, Julien. "4sq Superuser". 2011 July 07. Online Image. Flickr. 2014 April 11.

Min, Julien. “4sq Superuser”. 2011 July 07. Online Image. Flickr. 2014 April 11.

Tracey’s tips from Foursquare community management with her Superusers?

  • Don’t be afraid to give your followers a bit of inside information
  • Categorize your very involved and influential users
  • Reach out to your users and community members for advice

As Tracey pointed out, it is very important to pay attention to and treat your community members right. After all, you never know when they will come up with an idea that will forever change the structure and operations of your company.

Gavin O’Hara (Lenovo)

Community manager of Lenovo, a worldwide technology company, with the technical position title of Global Social Media Publisher, Gavin O’Hara got his start in community management with his love for coming up with social media content. In his current position at the prestigious personal technology company, Gavin creates the content for all the different social media platforms Lenovo uses, and reaches out to community members on a daily basis.

Anicic, Goran. "Lenovo ThinkPad T530." 2013 May 31. Online Image. Flickr. 2014 April 11.

Anicic, Goran. “Lenovo ThinkPad T530.” 2013 May 31. Online Image. Flickr. 2014 April 11.

One thing Gavin said, that really connected with me, was that “Community Management is about being both proactive and reactive.” What does he mean by this?

  • Producing content and responding to the content of his community members is integral to his job
  • Getting to know the audience of the community-knowing that it’s not made up of 1 kind of person-is vital
  • Just asking people personal random questions- “Where are you from?” or “How is the weather where you are?”is necessary

It’s those serendipitous moments of tapping into members’ lives that make people feel like they’re a part of something, especially a brand as large and well-known as Lenovo.

Like Foursquare, Lenovo has their own kind of Brand Ambassador program, Lenovo Insiders. The Lenovo Insiders are the global brand advocates of the technology company, who live, breath, and love Lenovo. To Gavin, Lenovo’s Brand Ambassador program is all about pulling the community members up into the Lenovo world.

Caira Conner (PolicyMic)

Caira Conner, Community Manager at PolicyMic, a digital/media news company, wanted

http://www.yandp.tv/2012/02/policymic/#.U0hKuMfTuSI

http://www.yandp.tv/2012/02/policymic/#.U0hKuMfTuSI

a way to study relationships. As she found her way into community management, she wanted to make content more available for consumption, rather than solely readership.

At PolicyMic, she plays an avid role in Recruitment and Strategic Development. What the heck is that?

  • Basically, building mini networks within the PolicyMic community
  • Communities are the journalists of PolicyMic
  • Mini networks provide a place for community members to collaborate and communicate

While Brand Ambassador programs are super important to the brand itself, they are also important to the

collective group of users who make up that program. At PolicyMic, they are making sure the ambassadors themselves have the people, resources, and communication outlets they need to be ample representatives of the brand.

Alex Dao (Vimeo)

Alex Dao, Community Development Chair for Vimeo, a video sharing website (similar to Youtube) got her start in community management from a very young age, simply from moderating message boards and chat rooms (believe it or not)!

Beale, Scott. "Vimeo Log In Screen." 2007 June 26. Online Image. Flickr. 2014 April 11.

Beale, Scott. “Vimeo Log In Screen.” 2007 June 26. Online Image. Flickr. 2014 April 11.

Ever since her pre-teen years, she has been doing a lot of that same kind of work at Vimeo. What exactly does that entail?

  • 80% of her time on member support throughout the online communities
  • 20% of her time on planning events with Vimeo members
  • Runs the apprenticeship program which hires people directly from their community(!!!!)
  • Helps to curate Vimeo accounts of users- highlights/*stars* 5-6 user videos a day for exceptional content

Alex has an important job in making sure the members of Vimeo community have the best experience possible. Because, who knows, you never know which one of those community members, coming out of the apprenticeship program, could be the next of the Vimeo brand.

 

What I really enjoyed about this panel was that each community manager mentioned something that we learned in class, which really made me appreciate these different types of concepts even more. As a student, it’s probably one of the coolest things to hear things you’ve heard in a lecture or read in a text book come into reality, and it helps switch on the “light bulb”, the one that is our brain. This class panel was full of real professional, real concepts, and real application, which is what community management is all about.

 

 

 

Lessons From and Army of Leaders

Words of wisdom. We traditionally look to the older and wiser for advice, but in today’s digital and social world it is often the young and the savvy who can teach us a thing or two about social media and community management. As part of #CMGRClass we had the opportunity to hear from an amazing panel of leaders in community management today, who had advice ranging from how to build an effective brand presence to effectively interacting with individuals in an ever growing online community.

The panel who we had the opportunity to hear from were leaders from names like Vimeo, Policy Mic, Lenovo, and Foursquare. All who offered unique perspectives on community management and social media.

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Common Themes

It’s no surprise that when you put great minds into one room, or one Google Hangout, they’re probably going to think alike. And that was certainly true. One on the main themes that I heard throughout the panel discussion was about connecting with individuals. This goes back to the idea of creating and building meaningful relationships with members of your audience.

Also, building on relationships, it’s important to make your audience feel important – like they matter. Being direct and tailoring your conversation or message was a key takeaway for me.

Furthermore, it’s important to stay grounded as your community grows. While the above may be easy as you are starting your community, as it grows to hundreds and even thousands of followers, staying on track and being true to yourself or brand becomes more and more difficult, but not impossible. That is why it is always important to have a plan.

Make the Audience Feel Special

One notion that stuck in my mind after the talk is that in order to make your audience feel special and keep them coming back, you really need to know your followers and understand them. You need to listen to their questions, comments, concerns and needs, and even better you need to be able to anticipate. Anticipate what they want, what will make them happy, and what will build trust.

Gavin talked about treating people like VIPs. With something like the Foursquare beta program, loyal users have the ability to have an impact on the future of a product, and this empowers them as well as builds a meaningful relationship that is two-way and beyond just a conversation.

I can relate to this having been an early buyer into a new product launching this summer called Coin, which is an electronic credit card device that stores up to 8 cards at once. As an early buyer, not only was I given a 50% discount, but I get frequent updates and access to their VIP site where I can updates on its progress and exclusive information. I don’t even have the device in my hands yet, and I feel “special.”

3 Pieces of Advice

While the panel offered tons of great advice, you would get bored reading an entire synopsis of what they said, so here are my three main pieces of advice to pass along:

  1. Don’t just create a community, build one – build trust, relationships, and recognize those followers who are extra special and loyal to your brand. Do something extra for them.
  2. Be a leader not a follower – unique ideas and a unique personality will set you apart. Those who follow other brands will be behind the curve before they even start. Don’t try to fool the follower, they’re smarter than you think. “Be proactive, not reactive.”
  3. Worry about the numbers, but don’t obsess – Depending on where you are with your community, your numbers might be big or small. What’s more important are the quality of your online relationships. Use metrics to your advantage, but don’t obsess over the numbers

What do you think of the advice? Do you agree or disagree with anything the panel discussed?

How to Build an Army of Brand Ambassadors – Tips from the #CMGRClass Panel

When a musician or actor gets on stage to accept a big award, they often make it a point to thank their fans. Some even go as far as to say I’m nothing without my fans. This statement can also be applied to brands because they, as well, are nothing without their fans.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 6.30.33 PM

This week #CMGRClass held a online panel over Google+. We were lucky enough to have apanel of experts from four companies: Gavin O’Hara from Lenovo, Alexandra Dao from Vimeo, Caira Conner from PolicyMic, and Tracey Churray from Foursquare. One of the biggest themes I saw emerge from this discussion was the need to build and nurture a community of super fans, otherwise known as brand ambassadors.

Know Your Community

The first step to building an army of brand ambassadors is to get to know your community. A lot of the community managers during this panel said that community for them started out as customer service and support. They needed to answer all the tweets when customers had problems, and soon community and support melded together. Each of these community managers had to go where their customers were and be available to them through these social sites. After spending all this time interacting with their consumers, they really got to know them inside and out.

getsatisfaction.com

getsatisfaction.com

Connect Your Community to Each Other

Tracey Churray explained that Foursquare recently launched a forum for their superusers. This mutually beneficial project allows about 40,000 of Foursquare’s most involved users to have an equal baseline of knowledge of the service, and chat with each other. This forum allows the users to connect with each other and bond, but also increases chatter about the service. This thus creates a greater brand loyalty to Foursquare in general because it is constantly the topic of conversation. Foursquare also has three levels of superusers, that all lead up to the hand chosen SU3s who actually get to interact with the Foursquare engineers.

aboutfoursquare.com

aboutfoursquare.com

Help Yourself

Foursquare sometimes taps into this loyal community to get feedback about how the service is functioning in different parts of the world. One of my favorite stories from the panel was when Tracey discussed how Foursquare contacted the superusers to improve the “Chinese Restaurants” tab of Foursquare locations in different parts of the world. Chinese restaurants as we know them in America take on a different meaning in China, and Foursquare was able to talk to their users about what categories of Chinese restaurants are necessary to have in each country. This made the service more targeted and meaningful in each part of the world, and was all made possible by the suggestions of their superusers.

Situations like this get users involved in the creative process and make them feel like valuable assets of the company. Gavin harped on this point by saying “casual exchanges make [users] feel like they are peeking behind a veil and are a part of something bigger.”

Even further than this, the panelists encouraged Gavin’s nurturing of a superuser community by providing examples within their own community. Vimeo offers around the clock customer service to their premium users, and makes it a point to hightlight 5 to 6 user videos each day. Another panelist said, “Don’t be afraid to give them some inside information, before you release things (people don’t like change after launch). They are often very excited and own it because they are a part of it.”

Bring Your Community Offline

The last important aspect of a superstar brand ambassador program that the panelists brought up, was the need to bring any online connections offline, to really solidify them. Creating and encouraging opportunities for the community members to connection offline with each other, as well as you, really allows people to connect on a human level. Gavin jokingly commented that “We need to throw parties,” and although he presented this in a joking way, the message still stands. Tweeting, emailing, and Facebooking are all nice, but your job is to manage a community of people, so you must treat them as such. Brand loyalty stems from this feeling of connection and unity.

What do you think about these tips for building a brand army? What brands do you think have the best “superuser” programs? Let me know in the comments below!

Knowing your Community: #CMGRClass Panel

This week I was able to sit in on a panel with four active Community Managers. It was a great conversation discussing the types of communities and engagement tactics used in their day-to-day work.

What was especially interesting was even though every person fell under the umbrella of community management, they had very different roles and objectives in comparison. Each focused on different categories of community management, such as content management, support, moderation and engagement. These distinctions seemed to be formed by the industry, brand’s strategic objectives, and the nature of the community.

Vimeo Staff Picks Banner, a curated channel for members

Vimeo Staff Picks Banner, a curated channel for members

For example, the tech manufacturer Lenovo’s community has a different atmosphere than Vimeo’s. People who are a member of Vimeo’s community are most likely passionate about producing creative content, or enjoy consuming creative content. This community has different values and ways of interacting than the tech-focused Lenovo community. The differences in the needs and values have an impact on how a community manager encourages engagement.

Gavin O’Hara from Lenovo drove this point home even further: “The first rule of community management could easily be knowing your audience…first, who is your audience in broad strokes, and then you dig deeper… you can’t define your audience by one set of people” This point was a common theme that persisted through the panel, all of the panelists seemed to agree of the importance of listening to your community, despite the industry.

 

Vimeo

Alex Dao is part of of a community team of 22 personnel, that works congruently on interconnected layers of the Vimeo community. They have many opportunities for members to participate in the community, holding events, weekend challenges, distributing lessons, and curating channels with highlighted videos in addition to support and social media interactions. This is a great example of engaging all streams of a community, with knowing what niche groups would enjoy engaging in a certain way.

 

PolicyMic

In contrast, Cara Conner manages her community solo, concentrating on twitter chats, email, outreach, and PolicyMic’s new fellowship. This fellowship is a part of the transition of PolicyMic from thought leaders to more regular, young journalists. She hopes that the fellowship shifts the focus from web traffic to the voice and stories of the target audience of PolicyMic—Millennials. In that way the fellows are the brand ambassadors, the actual voice of the community.

 

Few posts on Lenovo's blog

Few posts on Lenovo’s blog

Lenovo

Gavin O’Hara has been with Lenovo’s community from the start, growing the twitter following from 3,000 to about 2 million. He attributes trial and error a large part of the journey, but has a good handle on his community now. Something I found intriguing about the Lenovo community were the special Facebook group set up for the committed members of the brand. This group rewards the top-tier members by interacting one-on-one with the users, and making them feel like they are a part of something bigger. These tactics of recognizing passionate members of the community creates loyalty in addition to fostering engagement.

 

Foursquare

Foursquare Superuser icons

Tracey Churray of the Foursquare community team focuses more on the support side, and tapping into the community to build a database. Foursquare’s strategy is driven by crowdsourcing users for venue updates and tips, so they have unique relationship (and even reliance) with their community. They also have established a hierarchy within their community, giving increasing levels of power to more involved members. These tiers of Superusers are specially picked, and they get perks such as previews and special editing access. It’s a genius program, and plays well into Foursquare’s gamification M.O. Users are driven to reach the next status level of Superuser, and to reap the rewards.

Takeaways

  • Above all, you must have a clear understand of your community
  • Priority levels based on activity or membership establish loyalty
  • Community Management is not solely social media- creating strong relationships is a result of diverse touch-points

Are you part of a brand community with a hierarchy? Does this inspire you to be more involved in the community?

7 Days, 12 Posts, and Countless Conversations

Over the course of one week, I took to my keyboard, put on my listening cap, and moderated. I experienced a week in the life of a moderator, and to my surprise it was fun, busy, and challenging at times. My responsibilities included moderating the #CMGRClass conversations on Google+ and Twitter. This was my experience.

The first few days

The conversation started off seeming like it might be a bit challenging. Moderating a conversation on multiple challenge with many people requires listening and participating while maintaining a good balance and free-flowing conversation. Once the conversation started, things seemed to smooth out as days went on.

One of the first challenges that I noticed was deciding where to post certain content and conversations, and when to use Twitter vs. Google+. Even more challenging was not getting caught up in one or the other and neglecting one of the outlets. They both needed to remain active.

Differing content

Early on, I decided what content I would post where. Google+ would be used for posting most of the articles and reading content that would be educational and spark conversations, and Twitter would be used for more asking questions, and also posting lighter reading. I liked using Twitter for quick one sentence questions and answers because of its nature – the dreaded 140 character limit. Much more in-depth conversations were had on Google+.

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 8.49.48 PM

It’s also worth noting which content was most successful. Those tweets and posts that included a specific call to action like a question or call for opinion tended to get more traffic and conversation overall. Those which simply included a link had less comments and conversation, likely because there was no reason for the community to interact beyond reading the post of linked article.

Timeline

I wanted to be sure to post at least one thing each day. I tried to schedule a certain time each day where I knew I would be free to sit down, converse, and post. Things don’t always go as planned, though, so adapting my schedule was important.

What I found, was using mobile application for Twitter and Google+ were imperative to my success, because being dependent on a laptop or desktop computer was too restrictive. I now cannot imagine being a community manager without have a smartphone or equivalent mobile device.

As I mentioned earlier, posting and responding became easier as the week went on and as the conversation flow grew. I did not have a schedule, but went more with the flow of the conversation and the feel or attitude of the community to decide what posts people were reacting well too and when I might consider changing the type of posts I am posting.

Summary and what I learned

  1. To be a good moderator or community manager listening and understanding your audience is very important
  2. Moderating can be time consuming, but always being “plugged in” helps keep up with the flow
  3. Community management can certainly be a full time job, depending on the community, its involvement and the responsibilities
  4. Not getting caught up in one community is key to a successful widespread strategy

Participants

  • Gabby Montano
  • Lindz Silver
  • Sarah Ostman
  • Elaina Powless
  • Kelly Lux
  • Devon Balk

Metrics

Google+: 12 original posts from moderator; 21 comments and non-moderator posts

Twitter: 11 original posts from moderator; 2 favorites; 3 retweets; 6 conversations (moderator involved)

You’ve Got the Power, Now What? How to Harness Your Influence as a Community Manager

Image citation

“Flat-Pack This. Ikea unfolds its potential in China and Israel..” Industry Leaders Magazine RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Apr. 2014. .

Building is hard work. Building a house is hard work, building a “do-it-yourself” table from IKEA is hard work, even though they tell you it won’t be, and building a community from the ground up is hard work for a community manager. So once you have invested time and energy, and the structure of your community is built, you must use your newfound leadership position wisely.

In chapter five of Buzzing CommunitiesRichard Millington explains how to harness the influence of your community. As well, he exposes the powers of persuasion and divides them into three categories.

  • Content Creation

A big part of contributing to your community is putting out relevant, timely content. You can send news articles out through email, or create a Google+ page like we do for #CMGRClass. I think it is important to note that every community is different and you must find what makes your community unique, and figure out what makes your audience tick.

Overall, one strategy to encourage engagement and bridge the gap between the community manager and the community is highlighting. “You can highlight trends or opportunities within the community and shine the spotlight on members whose actions merit reward” (77). When you highlight your community it allows the individual members to feel special and gives them an opportunity to be heard. It also encourages them to visit the community every day because members love when content is about themselves.

On campus, one of the organization I am involved in has the motto Live With Purpose. This phrase can be adjusted ever so slightly to fit community management and evolve into Write With Purpose. What this phrase means is to use the insights learned about your community to share information and create content users want to read. Don’t just put content out for the sake of sharing. If you share meaningful content, your users will appreciate it and reciprocate with quality content of their own.

  • Administrative Rights

You are probably the admin on all your community’s social network sites, and most if not all community wide emails come from you. Therefore, it is your job to remove people and posts that are not appropriate, or you feel do not positively contribute to the community as a whole. Now, this is a large burden to bear, but it is a necessary one. Communities can easily get off track, or be filled with negativity if somebody is not there to monitor it all. Who would want to consistently visit a community only adds negativity to their life? You must set a standard for how community members will behave, and lead by example. Millington specifically says that, ”The biggest influence upon a member’s behavior is the behavior of other members” (80). The community manager can also grant rights to other members that they deem appropriate.

  • Access to the Company

As both a part of the community, as well as a part of the company from which the community stems, you’ve essentially “Got the Power.” You’ve always got the inside scoop on breaking news, as well as everything going on inside of the organization. You are the liaison between the company and the community, and the expert on whatever topic your community was built upon.

You also must be passionate about your community. You should be passionate about the topic of your community, but also passionate about talking to people. You should want to help your community members connect, as well as make sure they have a positive experience with your brand. Being passionate about something ensures that you will preform to the best of your abilities.

What do you think about Millington’s categories of persuasion? Do you have anything to add to them? Leave your comments down below!

Brand Ambassador Programs: The Key to Any Fan’s Heart (and Connection)

According to GC Marketing Services, a brand ambassador is defined as someone who positively represents the brand; someone who both markets and educates potential customers about that company and their products or services.

TheKeyToMyHeart

http://www.mixedplateblog.com/2010/01/art-mind.html

You’ve probably heard of positions that are similar to brand ambassadors, such as campus representatives or campus influencers, for many of the different brands you know and love; they sound like pretty cool gigs, right? Being involved with your favorite companies and sharing your brand obsession with others, I could dig it.

But, you may be asking yourselves, what is the importance of these brand ambassador programs to fans of that brand? Well, these types of endeavors are important because they increase the connection a brand has with their audiences. How? I’ll prove it to you in three ways, which are mentioned in this article:

  • Membership is exclusive
  • Ambassadors receive direct access to the brand
  • Ownership of the brand is transferred to the ambassadors

1.) Membership is Exclusive 

Believe it or not, it can be quite competitive to be selected as a brand ambassador, for certain companies. Why? Companies want brand ambassadors who are truly dedicated to their company, people who are the cream of the crop. In other words, brands would rather have fewer people who are more connected to their brand than to have more people who are less dedicated to their product or service; it’s more about quality versus quantity.

What does this mean for the fans of that company? If fans are selected to be brand ambassadors, it already increases the meaning of the connection they have with that brand. It means that there is a reciprocal relationship between the audience member and the brand; the brand is important to the fan and the fan is important to the brand. When someone realizes they matter, their engagement with that company is going to infinitely increase.

2.) Ambassadors Receive Direct Access to the Brand

Once selected, brand ambassadors get some pretty cool incentives and access to the brand they love. For example, some contacts with brand executives will be provided, marketing materials and strategies are given, and even free promotional material are received to give out to potential customers.

For someone who is obsessed with a brand, this a dream come true! One can talk to the people who make this brand a success, be involved in discussions with these executives, and be in on, and ahead, of the products and services the brand is producing.

http://cheaptravelcodes.com/ethical-marketing-and-brand-ambassadors/

http://cheaptravelcodes.com/ethical-marketing-and-brand-ambassadors/

By being up-to-date with their beloved brand, any audience member would have a more meaningful experience, through the brand ambassador program.

3.) Ownership of the Program is Transferred to the Ambassadors

While being an ambassador may not seem like a position of authority, it has the potential to be. An ambassador is someone representing a brand; someone who is innovative, dedicated, connected to the brand, and helping to improve the brand by connecting with current and future customers.

Brands and companies are changing their tones; they don’t want their corporate executives to be the people running the ambassador programs. Ultimately, brands want their most passionate customers, the brand ambassadors, to be the ones connecting to other customers; brands are realizing that their ambassadors have a lot of potential and influence on members of an audience, ones similar to themselves. Basically, more power is being given to the customers and ambassadors, and to fans of a brand, that is a very cool and powerful thing. brandAmbassador

Recap:

All in all, brand ambassador programs are AWESOME, because they give fans of a company an experience that they never could have gotten otherwise. By being an exclusive member of the brand, getting direct access to the brand’s powerful people and products/services, and eventually being granted ownership of part of the brand, the ambassador program, fans and audiences are gaining influence in the companies they love. Therefore, having more meaningful engagement and experiences with their beloved brands.

In sum, power to the people, customers, and fans. And remember, the way to any fan of your brand’s heart? Make them a brand ambassador, it will be a win-win for everyone involved.

 

 

The First Rule of Ambassador Programs

Tyler Pointing Loop Film

Image via hgbleackley.com

Ever since I deconstructed Fight Club scene-by-scene in an undergraduate film class, it has pulled me back to illustrate various messages over time.

My unyielding love of Fight Club aside, there is a meaningful connection to brand ambassador programs in its storyline.

For those who have seen the film, you might be cringing a bit. How can I use one of the most iconic anti-consumerist artifacts from American pop culture as a blueprint to promote brands? The reason is not to be ironic. I just love Fight Club.

For those who have not seen it, IMDb sums up the plot of Fight Club nicely by stating, “An insomniac office worker looking for a way to change his life crosses paths with a devil-may-care soap maker and they form an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.”

Anyone who is considering creating a brand ambassador program might like these three take-aways from this 1999 classic:

Image by IMBd.com

Image by IMBd.com

1.       By emphasizing exclusivity, you create zealots. And, that’s a good thing for a brand ambassador program. The film’s most quoteworthy scene outlines the rules. “The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club.” By emphasizing how exclusive this group is, the founding 15 or so members who were sworn to silence could not help but share how cool it was.The MackCollier.com article 10 Things to Remember When Creating a Brand Ambassador Program recommends you make membership exclusive.

In order to have an ambassador program, you need to recruit a select group of participants. With that role, their words carry weight when talking to others.

2.       Plug your ambassadors smack-dab into your brand (the seventh tip in the article I mentioned). By the time that Fight Club members had passed their initiation, they were completely integrated into the community and ready to roll. Note: your brand might want to go about this onboarding process in a less intense manner that they did in the film.

3.       Your brand ambassador program can fuel future initiatives. The film’s climax shows a well-organized effort called Project Mayhem, which sought to deflate the consumer values the community was against. This initiative was possible because members broke the first two rules not to talk about the club. The brand community that was Fight Club had grown so large and so focused on its mission that it became more like a cult. Craziness aside, it is clear that their goals to grow as a community ultimately provided enough dedicated members to execute Project Mayhem.

How would you choose your brand ambassadors? What would you do if you were armed with a community of ambassadors to back your effort?