The Internet can sometimes be a negative place, and social media is by no means an exception. I know I’ve noticed far more complaints in my social feed than I’ve seen unsolicited praise, especially for brands, products, or services. The Internet can be a bit of an echo chamber, so when somebody says something negative, like “Apple Maps steered me into the Atlantic!,” others will eagerly chime in with their horror stories. The problem is that it doesn’t always work in reverse; after all, an unhappy customer wants somebody to fix the problem, whereas a happy customer may not have anything they want to say. Therefore, satisfied isn’t enough anymore, and you need to figure out how to empower your happy customers to speak up and advocate your brand.
A good starting point is to identify influential customers you have. They may have already mentioned you, which is a great start. In my own social accounts, I rarely talk about products, but when I’m happy with a brand I’ll go out of my way to recommend them given the proper context. One big example for me is Baratza, a manufacturer of home coffee grinders. Whenever the subject comes up and my input is welcome, I’ll name-drop them to make sure they’re represented. I love their business, their products, and most of all, their customer service. If they had an ambassador program, you can bet I’d be in line for the opportunity. Chances are your brand has people like me who would jump at the chance to help you out.
This brings up another key element of a good ambassador – they have to be passionate, and to a certain extent, loyal to your brand. “Fanboys” and –girls can be overly pushy and annoying, so they’re not always the people you’re looking for, but those who would consider your brand first in your industry are the ones who will be the best performers as ambassadors. Britt Michaelian writes that loyalty comes from a sense of connection, especially when a community is built for each member to have an important role. The more they love your company, the more they’ll want to spread the word.
The final key point I’d like to make is that ambassadors aren’t free. As Mack Collier notes in this week’s reading, you need to make it worth their while. They already love your company, but to help them help you, you need to offer them a bit more for their efforts. Empowering them with the tools and resources, such as exclusive membership to an ambassador community, is one thing, but actual compensation is often a must. Ambassadors don’t need to be paid monetarily per se, but other options, like discounts, “swag,” access to events or figureheads in your company, are all options to be considered. Ambassadors have a different relationship with your brand than customers, so they need to be treated a bit differently and rewarded for their efforts. Essentially, if you reward them for their hard work and loyalty, they will reward you in kind. And most of all, don’t forget to thank them!
How do you turn your most vocal supporters into ambassadors?