By now, most of you in the branded Social Media game know the power of influencers on Social Media and the various benefits of properly leveraging the sway of these users. Recruiting these individuals to represent your brand is the easy part (everybody is keen when the thought of free products and celebrity guest lists come to mind).
The hard part is maintaining these relationships, making them mutually beneficial and eventually creating a strong pool of brand evangelists (without the ill-fitting white suits).
These advocates act as powerful media carriers for your content and campaigns, and are pivotal in ensuring your brand stays relevant via word of mouth.
Cultivating Ambassador Relationships
As a brand ambassador myself, I have strong relationships with some major brands that are really good to me. They have managed to build relationships with me where I gladly fulfil their requests. But it wasn’t always like this. It has taken time and lots of good faith to get to this point.
On that note, I thought it might be helpful to share a few tips that I’ve gathered from my experiences as a brand. Here they are:
- Get interacting. Invite brand ambassadors around sometime - office tours are always cool. Make them feel like they’re official members of your brand rather than just another channel for your brand messages. Constant, informal, non-purpose driven communication is a good way to establish a relationship.
- You don’t own your brand ambassadors. If you float them products to talk about your brand they will appreciate it, but avoid calling the shots. You are not giving them things for free. It’s an exchange for their social capital. You can afford to be a little bossier if you’re paying them for once-off campaigns but if you want a relationship, then relax.
- Brand ambassadors know their weight. They recognise their value and that you need them as much as they want to associate with you. They generally know that if things don’t work out, they will be okay. They have built up their personal brands to a level where they’re worth approaching all on their own. They generally want to share it with a brand that gets that. Remember that if you don’t use the opportunity, then someone else will.
- Brand ambassadors also know that they’re not the only one. They understand that you might have other brand ambassadors, but remember to choose wisely. Every time a new ambassador is added to the mix it changes the dynamic, as their behaviour is a direct reflection on you. That, in turn, has an effect on the existing brand ambassadors’ reps.
- Trust them. They recognise Social Media is a tricky field and you need to control as much as you can, but they generally know what they’re doing. Chances are that they understand the social space better than you do. Trust that they respect the fact that you think they’re the ones to help your brand grow. They also often have ideas they’d like to bounce off you, and you never know, they may even have some real gems highly pertinent to your brand.
If used correctly, these relationships have the potential to be an extremely powerful asset in any marketer’s arsenal. Finding individuals to represent your brand on an everyday, interpersonal level, is often far more credible and authentic than any big budget advertisement could ever be. Choosing wisely, acting smart and trust are the keys to unlocking brand ambassador potential.