In today’s fast-paced marketplace, nothing is more saturated than the advertising space. Brands big and small constantly push out colorful, innovative messaging in the most unlikely ways. It can get overwhelming trying to figure out how your brand stands out from the crowd.
Before you get stressed out thinking about the sheer volume of advertising your competition creates, consider the fact that according to the most recent Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report, word of mouth and recommendations from friends and online consumer opinions are still the most trusted resource. Ninety-two percent of consumers say they trust recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of traditional advertising. This leaves room for a lot of opportunities to take advantage of the popular “brand ambassador” concept.
A brand ambassador is essentially a person who embodies the brand and communicates your vision and mission to potential consumers. Large corporations often take this concept to a whole new level by hiring dedicated brand ambassadors as employees who function as a cross between a PR professional and an HR representative, educating and helping customers. Typically, brand ambassadors are matched with a brand based on their professional speaking ability, innovative ideas, credibility and—most of all—dedication to the brand.
However, a paid brand ambassador might be less effective than a free-standing “superfan” of your company’s products or services. Superfans—essentially self-selected brand advocates—are individuals that recommend and support your products and services on their own time and without compensation. A true evangelist for your company, this person has the insider ability to influence audiences who are extremely well targeted, well connected and interested in your offerings. Taking advantage of this very powerful form of organic marketing can help you obtain new customers, and establish yourself as a trusted brand.
Creating a superfan that deeply believes in your services and willingly endorses your company can be tricky. To harness a fan’s passion and transform it into a powerful message, begin with a strategy.
Identify & Engage
Identify and evaluate your current social fans by monitoring online discussions and conversations about your products or services. Are individuals talking about your products and leaving reviews? Thank them. Engage in conversations with your fans to create a connection. Could it be that your customers are reaching out to you with their issues on Twitter and you’re not responding? By solving problems that distress your customers, you create trust and reassurance that your brand cares about them and keeps their best interests in mind. A happy customer will gladly recommend you to their network.
Evaluate and Approach
Analyze the behavior of your most dedicated fans. Are they already promoting your services to their friends and colleagues? Do they leave positive reviews raving about your exceptional customer service? Are they repeat customers? Do they use multiple products or services you offer? Do they have blogs? Are they able to influence a large audience? Truly dedicated consumers will ensure that their voicesare being heard, and will typically attempt to engage with you as a company via social platforms.
Once you’ve established potential, approach and engage these individuals. Offer incentives and perks to amplify their attitudes, such as sneak peeks and trials of your latest products, or free limited access to your services. By making your ”superfans” feel special and recognized as customers, you magnify their dedication and potentially create a stronger bond. Follow by attempting to create a mutually beneficial relationship that’s motivated by perks, financial rewards, or online endorsements that harness your customer’s enthusiasm, and channel it into highly successful social conversation.
To effectively turn zest into ROI, evaluate each brand ambassador you identify and create individually. The rewards and incentives you offer will produce the most effective results when tailored to the person you approach. Adopt a full transparency strategy and propose options for your new brand evangelist. Leave financial compensation as a last resort—you want social conversation to be driven by sheer enthusiasm and positive attitude for your company, not a paycheck. Nurturing these individuals and harnessing their passions is not like hiring a paid endorser, such as a celebrity or a professional manager. Consumers tend to trust social interactions over all other forms of advertising, and your best bet is to position yourself in the middle of the action.
Develop a metric by which you’re able to measure the effectiveness of each brand ambassador’s actions. A customer loyalty metric developed by Bain and Company called the “Net Promoter Score” can be a great tool to assess these efforts.
A “superfan” turned brand ambassador can greatly enhance your overall company value by influencing the decision making process of other potential customers. Take care to carefully select and reward your brand ambassadors while measuring results using a viable metric. A well-planned strategy is your biggest tool.