They should be knowledgeable about your product or service, enthusiastic to talk about it, and their opinions should hold sway over your intended customer base. Not only that, but a good brand ambassador represents the culture and values of your company in a way that a logo or a mission statement never could.
Therefore, you should be careful when choosing your brand ambassador, as that person can easily become the face and voice of your company. For many years, celebrities have acted as de facto brand ambassadors for companies, but the term only recently came into popularity to describe a salaried position within an organization.
Now that we have entered the Age of Social Media, it has become clear that customers make excellent brand ambassadors as well, perhaps even more so because their opinions and product evangelism are often taken as authentic and reliable by their peers and social network groups.
Here are some tips on how to groom your customers into brand ambassadors for your company:
1) Get To Know Your Customers
Before you can have brand ambassadors, you need customer relationships. Before you can expect to build a relationship with your customers, you need to first get to know them. Follow their Twitter, Instagram, and personal blogs. Scan through their posts and see what kinds of content they are sharing, which products or personalities they are retweeting, or what topics they are talking about.
What age are they? What gender? What social media platform do they prefer to use? What geographic location are they posting from? Though it’s not as reliable as hard market research, this casual browsing can offer key insights into the kind of customer who is already talking about you or your product.
2) Give Them Something to Talk About
Once you are familiar with your more vocal customers, it’s a good idea to start engaging with them in conversations. Ask their opinions on your product or other products that they like. Invite them to complete surveys. Offer opportunities to beta test new products or services before they are released to the general public. Give them plenty of space to make suggestions on how to improve that product. A customer who feels involved in the creative process of a product is much more likely to recommend that product to a friend.
3) Let Them Know You Are Listening
It’s not difficult to get a conversation started, but it takes time and commitment to make sure that the conversation continues. Just as in face-to-face interactions, a one-sided question and answer session is not very satisfying, nor does it feel intimate. Once your customers start talking, you must be vigilant to reply as best as you can and as often as you can.
It is not enough to simply retweet positive comments about your company. You must also listen and respond to negative feedback in a polite and courteous manner. Use those opportunities to open a dialogue about your product or service and to solicit ways to improve it. With such a growth mindset, you just might convert a brand nay-sayer into a brand ambassador.
4) Praise Them
Respect is a two-way street. Just as your customers will sing your praises through their networks, make sure to mention them as well. You can retweet from their posts, reblog their pictures, or just tag them to congratulate them when the company has reached a special milestone or achievement.
5) Channel Their Enthusiasm
Once you have a handful of enthusiastic brand ambassadors, you may want to start actively channeling the ways in which they apply that enthusiasm. For instance, you might ask them to try new products and promote them on their networks. You might ask them to join a hashtag campaign.
But be careful, nobody wants to feel like they are being used. Oftentimes, it might be best to see how your customers are already using and talking about the product. From there you may be able to piggyback onto those brand messages in a positive way to create an organic social media marketing campaign.
All of the tips listed above have one thing in common — a general interest in building strong customer relationships. And just as in all types of relationships, a little bit of appreciation can go a long way in creating your very own brand ambassadors.
Has your business started a brand ambassador program? What have you found that works/doesn’t work? Share with us in the comments below.
Originally published Aug 21, 2015, updated Aug 10, 2020