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Customers as brand ambassadors

The IMM Graduate School |Customers as brand ambassadorsSocial media helps brands to connect and become more engaged with its target audience. Of course, there is a difference between customers who (out of love for it or habit) use a product without promoting it, and customers who promote and post about their favourite brands and products on social media. A major goal for businesses is to turn their regular customers into loyal super-fans.

The way consumers talk about their user experiences has changed over time. With the presence of social media, consumers are able to instantly share their positive experiences with their potentially large social media following. Since modern consumers rely heavily on online product reviews before making a purchase, passionate recommendations from a fellow customer will be considered more valuable and taken more seriously than a message from the brand itself.

A brand ambassador is someone who “visibly flaunts the adoption, use, and presence of a certain brand”. Simply put, brand ambassadors use and talk to (preferably) large audiences about their favourite brands. Traditionally, brand ambassadors were celebrities with their own large social media following, however, now with ‘average’ consumers gaining online popularity, anyone can assume this position. 

Finding brand ambassadors

The best place for a business to start looking for brand ambassadors is within the organisation. Employees are often good candidates since they already know the finer details of the products and services on offer. Another option is to analyse the existing customer base and pinpoint who the most loyal individuals are, then ask them whether they would like to become an advocate for the brand.

Brand ambassadors must have these key characteristics:

  • Professionalism
  • A good knowledge of the brand, its products and history
  • A basic understanding of marketing principles
  • An established online presence
  • A large social media following
  • A passion for the product or brand
  • A team player

How brand ambassadors are made

Converting the ‘average’ customer into a super fan requires time and effort. These seven strategies can help turn loyal customers into brand ambassadors.

  1. Maintain good customer relationships. If a customer has a pleasant experience with a brand, they are likely to remain loyal and refer their friends.
  2. Show interest. Ask customers for their feedback, they can offer a unique perspective on the brand. Also, asking customers for their opinion will make them feel heard.
  3. Make use of User Generated Content (UGC). Asking customers to produce content for the business will not only provide fresh content such as videos, photos and written text, but the brand will also earn customer loyalty.
  4. Encourage user creativity. Businesses can hold contests to encourage its audience to create content for the brand. This will increase user engagement and encourage word-of-mouth recommendations.
  5. Build a community. Create an online community centred around the brand to encourage brand to user interaction and promote loyalty.
  6. Appreciate your customers. When customers provide a business with user generated content or refer a friend, be sure to show your public appreciation.
  7. Reward advocates. Provide existing brand ambassadors with special offers like discounts or free shipping and post online about the benefits of being a brand ambassador.

How your business can benefit

Having a brand ambassador on your side can greatly benefit your business. One obvious benefit is that ambassadors are often unpaid. Brand ambassadors can also:

  • Increase brand visibility and awareness
  • Use social media to hype up the brand
  • Help to make the brand more ‘human’
  • Help to protect a brand’s online reputation
  • Drive traffic to the brand’s website

Once a brand has gained ambassadors, the final task is to maintain these relationships – this requires ongoing effort on the business’ part. The best ways to keep ambassadors interested and engaged is to constantly provide them with an exclusive sneak peak of new products, special deals or any future changes. This will give them something new to talk about with their audience.

Lastly, having brand ambassadors who create content for the brand would be of no use if the business doesn’t use their content. Publicly posting their content and showing appreciation for it will show followers that their efforts don’t go unnoticed.