As a business your success can rely on one thing — your online credibility. While transparency, blogging, online communication and being social can all help build your credibility, there is one thing that may have more power than you might think. That one thing is your ability to find, keep and leverage brand ambassadors. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a deeper look.
A recent study came out that said 62% of informed individuals find information from “a person like yourself” to be at least very credible. 62%! That’s a big number and one that can’t be overlooked, especially as an online business. Now, you may be asking yourself what is a person like yourself? In the most simple terms, it’s a brand ambassador.
Brand ambassadors are extremely important to your business goals because they can help you grow your online presence, bring you trusted fans and customers through your door and increase your sales. Because brand ambassadors are already trusted within their circle of friends and online network, their word can be taken as gospel.
What Does Your Brand Ambassador Look Like?
If you already have brand ambassadors, bravo, you are one step ahead of the game. If you don’t actively have a brand ambassador campaign, now is the time to start thinking about one.
Not to be cliché or anything, but your brand ambassador looks just like you or rather your ideal customer. And often times they are already a customer. So, with that said, the first place to look is within your current customer base. These people are already familiar with your brand, product and service. Your repeat customers are probably going to be your best bet here. Clearly they like your offerings so much that they have come for seconds, thirds, or even more.
The next place to look is throughout the web. Engage in a little social listening to find them. They should be talking about your brand, competitors, or lifestyle and industry trends that resonate with your business. I think bloggers are the best place to start because they have an online home where they share their thoughts, reviews, and personality openly with their readers. Plus, the life of a blog post is longer than a tweet, a Facebook update, or other types of social posts. A long life for a brand mention is a good thing. Usually bloggers also have a social following, so by engaging bloggers first you can kill two birds with one stone. (Note, I don’t condone really killing birds, just metaphorically.)
Next stop is the social web. You should go beyond just Facebook & Twitter and depending on your business and brand, the network that resonates with your followers and customers might not even be on those networks. Take a look at Vine, Youtube, Pinterest, Polyvore, and other niche sites to find the best people to represent your brand. The more research you do here, the better off you will be in the long run. Plus, the more varied your ambassadors are, the more likely to you are to cast a wider net.
How To Leverage Brand Ambassadors
The bottom line here is that it’s all about the relationship you build with them. The stronger the relationship and the more they resonate with your brand the better off they will be in spreading the good word. Of course you have to give to get, so think about ways you will compensate them. This can be through money or product, but there has to be some sort of exchange.
Furthermore, think about exactly what you want to get from this campaign. Do you want the ambassador to create a video about your brand? Make that clear. Do you expect them to tweet about your brand 10 times in a week period? Make sure that is clear. Whatever the terms may be, you have to make sure that the ambassador is aware of the task at hand. By having expectations on both sides of the relationship you are more likely to get more out of the agreement.
I think it is always best to give the creative freedom to the brand ambassador. Here’s why. First, their audience already expects something out of them. It’s what they have grown to love about them. If you allow the ambassador or Influencer to work within this persona that they have created, the content they create for you will less like marketing and more natural. If you tell them exactly what to post or tweet it will feel stale and won’t resonate with their audience. Pepsi’s #GetHyped Vine campaign is a great example of how freedom of creativity and user-generated content can help you build brand awareness and buzz.
How Does This Build Your Online Trust?
By engaging in a brand ambassador campaign, you can expect to see increased mentions within a trusted network of followers. These people will begin to trust you and your brand even if they had never known you existed before. It’s social proofing and discovery at its best.