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What It Takes to Build a Successful Brand Ambassador Program

Influencer marketing and ambassador programs dominate the business side of social media. Partnerships with influential people have always been an effective marketing tactic, but aligning with micro or nano influencers, ambassadors, and super users has tremendous strategic opportunity for brands. Trust and authenticity can help (or hinder) organizations looking to connect with followers in an organic, intentional way. Follow the four steps outlined below to best set up your brand ambassador program for success.

Program Management

Building and maintaining a successful ambassador program isn’t as simple as selecting ambassadors and leaving them to connect with the brand’s followers. It needs to be managed like any other project or program with consistency, deliberation, and organization.

Identify the “five Ws and one H” of the program before it even sees the light of day:

  • Who are you trying to reach and who can help you reach them?
  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • When do these goals need to be completed?
  • Where is your audience?
  • Why is the program necessary?
  • How does this program help you achieve your goals?

Once these questions are answered and the framework is put into place, the real work of building and managing the program can begin.

Building Connections

Identifying who should be in an ambassador program can be a critical decision within the program’s success. Micro influencers or superusers (users who have strong networks in activity but maybe not big follower numbers) can exist within even the smallest of niches — the hard part is knowing who they are and whether a partnership with them will help achieve the program’s goals. 

Start with an organization’s most active followers or community members. Are there folks with a healthy, established relationship with the brand? Reach out and get to know them! Even if they’re not the right fit for the program, they might have a referral for someone who is. Another avenue for sourcing ambassadors is to publicly promote the program with a call to action to join. This strategy expands the reach of the program while allowing the organization to maintain control over who participates. The goal is to align with people who are excited and passionate about the brand and who can build trust with their followers. 

Team Support

A very effective tactic for these programs is providing dedicated resources. Ambassadors and influencers are naturals when it comes to building relationships with their followers, but they need to feel supported and confident in the work that they do. It’s the quick turn-around, specialized, white-glove treatment.

Frankly, overseeing an ambassador program is managing an elite form of community — show up, be consistent, offer guidance, celebrate, track progress, and be supportive. Have a dedicated contact for the program (our community managers excel at this), create a private community for ambassadors, develop activity, directly engage, and set program goals. The point is to make sure that the ambassadors feel like they are part of the team, part of the organization, and part of achieving the goal. 

Recognize and Celebrate

Last, but certainly not least, take the time to recognize and celebrate the ambassadors in the program. Partnerships between ambassadors and organizations need to have some level of equal value for both parties; without it, ambassadors have little reason to be involved. Some programs continue indefinitely, while others come to a natural end based on age limits, time constraints, or campaign closure. It’s important to honor and acknowledge milestones to emphasize the experience through all program life cycle stages. Celebrating milestones, rewarding successes, and offering incentives based on goals will go a long way with ambassadors. And remember, if you’re going to kick off a robust and fun program for ambassadors, do the same for ending a program. Bring things to a close with the same quality the program had at its peak.

With so many avenues for connection, people are searching for authenticity above all else. Right now, organizations have the unique opportunity to reach their followers in a way that’s more authentic and intentional than ever before. Take the time to strategize, plan, and build community with intention, and the program will be off to a great start.

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