Marketing is a tricky job. You spend hours upon hours pouring your heart and imagination into the most creative and effective ways to showcase your company’s product, all within the confines of your job, usually within the much more physical confines of your office. What you do at your desk has a direct impact on people outside your building, and no matter how closely you connect with your target market, there’s always some level of disconnect. Because after all the meetings and design work and media buys and product placement and guerrilla marketing and word of mouth and social media strategies and giveaways and contests, there’s still a whole world of marketing opportunity outside your office walls that you just can’t take advantage of, because there aren’t enough hours in the day, and because hey, you’re just one person.
So why haven’t you created a social brand ambassadors club yet?
Of course, you probably already have brand ambassadors, those faithful customers who use your product and tell all their friends about how much they love it. But what if you could organize and direct that ambassadorship so that the good word spread by these fans fell upon thousands of new ears?
That’s where the club comes in. A social brand ambassadors club can take many forms, but the idea, at its center, is this; seek out a handful of people who love your product and who have significant social media followings themselves. Invite them to be a part of your company’s official brand ambassadors group, whereby they’ll receive a certain set of perks for sharing their thoughts on your products on their own social networks.
For example, let’s say you work for a theatre company. Your social brand ambassador club might consist of 10 people at a time, and membership in the club would last for one full theatrical season. Each of your ambassadors would be invited to a free (or discounted) preview performance or dress rehearsal of each show that season. They might also receive additional perks, like a cast and crew meet-and-greet, a pre-performance cocktail party, or a tour of the theatre. Then, after each performance, you ask each of your 10 ambassadors to post their honest thoughts about the show to their various social networks, especially Facebook, Twitter, and any blogs they might write. That way, the ambassadors receive an entire season’s worth of free or inexpensive performances, and your theatre gets a chance to build extra buzz before opening night.
A word of caution, though; it’s important, when putting together a social media ambassadors club, that you do not instruct them to post only favorable comments about your product, and you should never tell them what to write. It takes a bit of courage to ask people to write their honest, unedited opinions about your product, but it is extremely important that they feel free to do so. Encouraging your fans to talk about you in their social networks is one thing, but enticing good reviews with the promise of freebies is another. Not only will an open comment policy ensure that you don’t wade into any sort of murky waters, morally speaking, but it will also cause your ambassadors’ comments to carry the important weight of truth. So while you can control the setting in which they experience your product, you should never try to control what they say about it.
Sure, that sounds a little scary. Here you are, giving out free tickets to people who could very well bash your show publicly to their 5,000 Twitter followers. But the risk of negativity is minimal if you pull your ambassadors from a solid pool of fans to begin with. One way to make sure you’re bringing on ambassadors who actually do have positive feelings about your product is by instating an application system for entry into the club. The club application works like a job application; you get to learn a little more about the person applying and his experience with your company or product. An application process also lends credibility to your ambassadors club, and it gives you a good way to choose 10 people out of the potential hundreds of interested parties.
When creating your social brand ambassadors application, there are two pieces of information that will be extremely important for you to know about each person. The first is his history with your company and product. How long has he been a fan of your theatre? How many shows has he seen? What was his favorite? What does he like best about your organization? A few questions in this vein will help you to choose people who are passionate about your company and who likely already say good things about you in the public space. Bringing them on as ambassadors will only encourage them to say more.
The second piece of information you’ll want to learn is how wide each applicant’s social circle is. How many Twitter followers does he have? How many Facebook friends? Does he have a blog? If so, how many people subscribe to it? How often does he use social media? The more socially savvy your ambassadors are, the more buzz they’re likely to generate for your business. They’ll check into your theatre on Foursquare and Facebook, they’ll tweet about the play during intermission, they’ll post a short review when it’s over, they’ll Instagram pictures of your marquee, and they’ll blog about their overall experience the next day. The higher the number of networks your ambassadors are on, and the more friends and followers they have, the more exposure you’ll get.
In the end, a well-organized social brand ambassadors club will help you to get your marketing message into places where it might not normally go on its own. A good club opens your organization up to brand new circles and spreads the word about your product in a whole new direction.