I just spent way to much time on Quora addressing this question. I have built many brand ambassador programs over the past 3 years, so I figured why not share. Thirty minutes later, I realized I was still typing and should probably not be on Quora during work. So, I am repurposing this content for my blog to rationalize it. Hope this post is helpful to those fellow scrappy marketers building brand ambassador programs.
The Question on Qoura
★What is a good Brand Ambassador Program made of?
Do you prepare a contract for your brand ambassadors? And what can you expect from them?
Jenna Hannon, Fan TV, User Acquisition
In risk of sounding too broad or vague, it really depends on the objectives of the program. Different brands have different needs in terms of ambassadors, therefore contracts and requests very. To figure this out, first you need to understand what you are looking for out of the program overall, which will help you design a program that properly incentivizes and rewards BAs (whether monetary or not).
Some Initial Objectives
1. Online word-of-mouth by influencers
2. Offline word-of-mouth by influencers (harder to measure)
3. Product educators on or offline
4. Product testing and feedback from specific groups (that can both test and gather feedback)
5. Content creation (blogging, reviews, videos)
Now, let’s pick one of the above objectives and outline a hypothetical program. Let’s go with number 1: online word-of-mouth by influencers. Once we know what we are looking for out of the program we need to figure out who these BAs will be. Start by building a criteria of the type of people you should be adding to the program, which will give you a very good understanding of incentives and expectations.
Example Criteria (with objective being spreading our brand online as influencers in our industry to their respective audiences)
Influential in sports
Over 5000 followers on Twitter
Over 5000 fans on Facebook
A website or blog
At least 3 PR mentions per year online (other websites mentioning them)
Highly engaged social user that doesn’t just post but interacts with fans/followers
Now, looking at this list, we are likely looking at athletes (just an initial guess). Athletes are used to being brand ambassadors and traditionally hard to track down and measure results from (unless part of large major budget campaigns). So, knowing this and still wanting to fit in the criteria, we might want to go the GoPro route and look for athletes in niche sports like kiteboarding or snowboarding, as they may be less demanding but have highly engaged online audiences. Now, coming around to the initial question asked.
What incentives would these athletes want? How can we guarantee that they perform in talking about the brand and engaging with our customers online?
Flat monthly rate that can be ended at anytime
Gear and freebies
Event attendance or other cool incentives
Make it cool (Ex. Redbull wings girls or student brand ambassadors)
You usually want to have someone who runs the program and interacts with the BAs on a regular basis. Whether you choose to run this on Google + or a private Facebook group, you want to keep BAs informed and part of the brand family. The more information they have to share and the more interaction with the brand, the more likely they are to interact.
Measurement or KPIs
Interaction with brand on brand’s social
Brand mentions on their social
Blogs or photos with brand featured on website
Referrals from athlete pages to website
Customer mentions of learning about product through athlete
Videos posted online with brand mentioned (number of views)
In my experience, I have not worked with contracts unless a BA is being compensated in cash. Many small brand programs are based on non-monetary incentives like gear, notoriety, access to network, etc. That being said, if you are not paying brand ambassadors, you really don’t need to ‘boot’ them from the group for poor performance. Rather let them hang and keep in the loop, decide how much participation they would like to contribute, then compensate accordingly.
Making a long answer short, it all really depends, although two things are certain for a great BA program. Be engaged with the group regularly. And, customize incentives with a better understanding of who your BAs really are and what they care about in alignment with your goals.