Tag Archive for brands

5 Important Things to Know About Brand Ambassadors

Image Courtesy of Beth Kanter

As an undergraduate at Syracuse University I served as a Student Ambassador, Peer Advisor, Tour Guide and blogger for my home college (Visual and Performing Arts) and as a Global Ambassador for the SU Abroad Office. I was also approached to be a campus representative for a study abroad blogging site called Students Gone Global. I knew that through all these activities I was serving as an ambassador but that had never occurred to me, before the readings we had this week, was that I could also have been called a brand ambassador.

A brand ambassador is a marketing term referring to someone who promotes services or products for a company or organization. These ambassadors are meant to “be” the company: they are supposed to dress, talk and share the same values and ethics as the people they are representing.

Below is a combination of things I learned while serving as an ambassador and representative and insights from Britt Michaelian’s post, “How to Build a Fierce Loyalty for Your Brand” and Mack Collier’s post, “10 Things to Remember When Creating a Brand Ambassador Program”:

  1. Loyalty: If you treat your community well, people will want to become ambassadors for you. If you treat your ambassadors well they will do anything for you. Example: once I was given the title “Student Ambassador” I stopped complaining about showing up at events at 7AM and leaving after 5PM.
  2. Loyalty and Social Media: Michaelian brought up a really good point: “it is a beautiful thing that we can connect with people from all over the world in an instant on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ etc., but to meet face to face and connect in person brings the relationship another level. A level of loyalty that simply cannot exist when only online. Example: at the beginning when SGG asked if I wanted to be a campus representative I said “of course!” without really thinking about it because who would know if I wasn’t living up to those duties?
  3. Research: Collier mentions the importance of knowing who the advocates are within your company: researching who’s always commenting, liking, sharing, interacting and asking questions will probably give you a clue as to who you should grab as an ambassador. Another trick would be to mention applications, if the people you’ve been keeping track of take the time and initiative to fill them out, chances are they’re really invested in your company. Example: I wouldn’t say no to any task I was given. No matter how much homework I had or when I had to be at work, if there was a prospective student interested in a tour, I’d volunteer.
  4. Exclusivity: This is very important. Everyone wants to feel like they are important and valued by the people he or she works or volunteers for; but not only that, not everyone in your community would be a good ambassador. Collier sums this up perfectly, you want to weed out the customers that aren’t committed to the brand, or the program. The true advocates for your brand will already be doing much if not all of what you would require of them as members of the program.” This fits perfectly with another point Collier made, that it’s better to have, “10 truly passionate brand advocates than 10,000 members that are merely ‘meh’ toward the brand.”
  5. Acknowledgement: As Collier says, “we all love money, but for a true brand advocate they usually want other things.” Example: During the first year I volunteered for VPA I joked with family that what would perfect is if they started to pay me. Over time I came to realize that going to events was one of the best networking things I could do and it’s because of this that I was asked to be a Student Marshal for graduation.

These are just a handful of things that came to mind while reading about brand ambassadors. What are some other things people should know about ambassadors? Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever been an ambassador for a company and what were some of the pros and cons.

 

Hanging out with three leaders in the CM community

For our #CMGRClass hangout last week, we had the amazing privilege of speaking with three community management professionals: David Yarus (@DavidYarus), CM at MRY; Morgan Johnston (@MHJohnston), Corporate Communications Manager at Jet Blue; and Nick Cicero (@NickCicero), Lead Social Strategist at Livefyre. Here’s a look into what they had to say.

Not all community management environments are created equal

Well, not exactly. They’re all just different. I found it fascinating to learn about the different team settings and how the setups of the various teams truly depend on the nature of the business. This sounds obvious, but I don’t find that to be the case. Each company or agency has its own brand, and uses that when it defines roles and organizational structure. Early on in the hangout, Nick mentioned that he believes job positions are much more definable today. These definitions have definitely evolved since the CM space first emerged, but I don’t know if they are yet definable to a point of satisfaction. Now, we just have a better idea of the types of roles we need filled for any given organization, but the description of that role will vary (drastically, or not,) from place to place.

All three men came from very different team backgrounds. At David’s agency, MRY, there is a distribution team that is responsible for media that is paid, earned, owned, and experiential and analytics. CMs work with this distribution team to create content, develop strategy, and monitor feeds. Specifically, David works with a community of influencers and brand ambassadors for Bobble and Spotify, among others.

At Jet Blue, Morgan is the head of the corporate communications department. He works with marketing and customer support departments to be sure that all communication is in check and stays in line with Jet Blue’s brand identity (for which he is also partially responsible). He works with Jet Blue’s customer insight team also uses a net promoter score as a way to constantly gauge the satisfaction of their customers; they survey, through a variety of media, “How likely are you to promote/recommend Jet Blue to a friend or family?” Aside from the 20+ team at Jet Blue corporate, there is a group of over 1000 employees in Salt Lake City who respond to the community at large (besides social channels): emails, phone calls, whatever it is, you name it, they respond to it.

Nick is a member of the strategy team at Livefyre, a real-time conversation and social curation tool. As a member of the strategy team, he works with the clients who use the Livefyre tools — other community managers. He helps them to use these products more effectively and how to better manage their communities. His strategy then coordinates with the customer and marketing teams to make for integrated communications.

Unique, not different

Okay, so maybe I was being a little harsh before. It’s not the differences that set these work environments apart, but rather, their unique qualities. It’s what these community managers are bringing to their respective workplaces to elevate their work.

At MRY, it’s that David likes to remove the idea of the screen away from the conversation. He constantly reminds himself to remember that there is a person on the other side of it, and to treat them as such. By breaking these barriers and treating people like people, simple tasks get accomplished a lot faster and a lot more efficiently. Completely unrelated, David also conducted this entire G+ hangout from the New York streets via his iPhone. I just love technology.

At Jet Blue, it’s that Morgan’s audience experiences the product/brand in real time. Although this can be frustrating and stressful at times (especially if the feedback is negative), it actually gives Jet Blue opportunities for wins; as David described, real-time gives brands the chance to “over-deliver, surprise, and delight.”

My own interaction with @JetBlue on Twitter!

My own interaction with @JetBlue on Twitter!

At Livefyre, it’s that Nick is working with people who essentially have the same job that he has. Nick works with community managers, yet he himself is a community manager of sorts. Again completely unrelated, Nick also worked with Kanye West early in his career to help grow his label’s community, so he wins at life.

 

Thanks again to David, Morgan, and Nick for hanging out with us – hope to see you all on Twitter!

#CMGRclass Moderator: Ambassador Programs

photo

 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulbrigham/8596883041/)

This week I was the moderator for the #cmgrclass Google+ community. It was my duty to generate discussion among the group as it pertains to class material. The first example I presented to the class dealt with crisis management. It found it to be fitting because one thing we’ve learned this week is that in recruiting advocates, you must “cultivate authentic relationships.” Wegmans took a risk when the company decided to create a hash tag during the time of Hurricane Sandy to stay connected with its audience. Carol Kelly said she felt, “it was effective for Wegmans. I think they did a good job of keeping the customers appraised of the situation which gave their customers confidence in them.”

I tackled the issue of what to avoid when establishing a brand ambassador program. I also, with other articles, communicate how to spot a brand ambassador program and how to see value in existing programs. I also provided examples of popular brand ambassador programs, which seemed to resonate with the class. Through providing examples, my classmates were to identify programs they’ve witnessed on campus or elsewhere and express how they, too, have been involved in advocating for a brand.

Something I found to be important was understanding how to launch a successful brand ambassador program for small businesses and start-up companies. Sonny Gold mentioned that, “[it was a] great article that outlines great steps for setting up an ambassador program. I think creating a lifestyle is huge, your brand truly has to be a lifestyle in order for it to be successful.” I found this article to be particularly helpful to someone like me who comes from an entry-level point-of-view.

I encouraged the class to seek outside examples to answer the chosen questions. I know I personally had a difficult time identifying a brand ambassador program and explaining the importance of what it was until I began researching for this assignment. I did expect the group to be more responsive, but I understand at this point in the semester it’s crunch time.  I found that people were more interested in making individual posts rather than contributing to class discussion.

I feel my take away message is that brand ambassador programs are an essential and significant component of commercial success. Without the implementation of brand advocates, the brand has to rely on digital platforms to stay connected with its members. Brands are for people, and the more we invest in our audience, the more our audience will have faith in what CMs do and be more inclined to commit!