I just got the above email from Triberr. Not sure why, as I have never used them, maybe I signed up a long time ago to check them out. The title of the email was “Are you actively looking to become a Brand Ambassador?”
At this point it might be a good idea to clearly define what a ‘Brand Ambassador’ is (and is not). A brand ambassador is someone that is (typically) compensated by a brand to actively promote that brand to other customers as well as initiate interactions with potential customers. Ideally, a brand ambassador is literally the brand’s ambassador within the marketplace.
In my experience working with companies to help them create brand ambassador programs and in talking to companies that have launched their own efforts, the ultimate success of the brand ambassador program is typically impacted by the selection process for the ambassadors. Your brand ambassador program will be more successful, all other things being equal, if the people you choose as ambassadors for your brand are currently fans of your brand. Existing brand advocates make the best brand ambassadors. Brand advocates have a higher level of understanding and passion for your brand. They are already actively promoting your brand to other customers, you are simply going to better organize and empower their efforts by making them part of a formal brand ambassador program.
Another option is the so-called ‘open cattle call’ approach to finding brand ambassadors. Typically, anyone is accepted (first come, first served), and the incentives offered are a chance to make money or get free products, etc. Often, it can be positioned as a chance to get free products from major brands, and maybe even be paid for creating content that promotes the brand.
The problem with the ‘open cattle call’ approach is obvious. That person’s prime motivation for wanting to become an ‘ambassador’ for a particular brand is to get free products and to be paid for creating content that promotes the brand. Basically, they aren’t participating because they love the brand, they are participating because they love getting paid.
When money is the primary motivation for being involved in a brand ambassador program, it changes the behavior of that person. The ‘ambassador’ will typically create content that isn’t authentic and based on actual opinions, but instead will focus on creating promotional content that the person feels the brand will pay them for. And readers of the content can easily see the disconnect, it would be odd if I suddenly started blogging about how amazing Luv diapers are (as someone who has no kids), and noted at the end of my post that I was paid to write said post.
On the other hand, existing brand advocates want to become ambassadors for your brand because their motivation is based on seeing your brand succeed. They literally LOVE your brand and will usually jump at the chance to work with it to better connect with customers and help move the brand forward. Although compensation is involved with them as well, brand advocates usually prefer more direct access to the brand and maybe advance access to upcoming products versus simply getting paid. Brand advocates prefer access over cash in most cases.
So if your company is thinking about creating a brand ambassador program, carefully consider who you want to be involved as ambassadors for your brand. Do you want to bring in existing customers that love your brand, or ‘influencers’ that have little to no natural affinity for your brand? The smart bet is on your existing customers that love your brand and want to see it succeed just as much as you do.