For decades, employers believed that customer trust could only be earned through celebrity endorsements and high-level influencers. Today, experts are beginning to discover that their most valuable advocates are already on the payroll—meaning your employees are the key to unlocking the value potential of a brand ambassadors program.
The question is, who in your network has the most chance of generating leads, loyalty and revenue on your behalf?
What is a Brand Ambassador?
At a high level, a brand ambassador is simply someone who speaks positively about your company. Brand ambassadors showcase your organization in a passive way, often in front of social media audiences and online followers.
When most people think of a brand ambassador marketing strategy, they often imagine someone with a great deal of influence or name recognition. While some brand ambassador programs do involve working with influencers, the most valuable advocates for any company will always be its employees.
No-one knows your company and understands its values as well as your staff. Your employees have grown with you, learned the most intimate details about your brand and commit every day to helping your organization grow—in fact, one survey found that 62% of people feel an employee’s ambassador is more trustworthy than its advertising.
How to Build Your Employee Brand Ambassador Strategy
An employee brand ambassador team can easily be one of your organization’s biggest assets. However, before you can start reaping the rewards of a dedicated ambassador team, you need to know how to convert your hard-working staff into an employee advocacy crew.
Step 1: Make Sure Your Employees Understand Your Brand
The only way your brand ambassadors can share your message with your customers is if they understand that message themselves. Unfortunately, a Gallup poll found only around 41% of employees said that they knew what their companies stood for.
Your staff needs to know your brand purpose, what you’re willing to stand for and what your vision of the future looks like so that they can adapt the right tone when acting as an ambassador. For instance, Nokia teaches employees facts like:
- What the company vision is and where the brand is headed
- When Nokia first sold their one-billionth cellphone
- What Nokia made before they moved into the technology world
The more your staff know about your organization, the easier it will be for them to contribute to your brand ambassador marketing strategy.
Step 2: Choose the Right Representatives
While there’s no limit on how many brand ambassadors you can have in your company, it’s important to make sure you start your efforts in the right area. A brand ambassador is someone who positively represents your brand and embodies your culture on social and public channels. Most importantly, they need to be authentic.
While it’s always a good idea to look at forward-facing employees like communications experts or marketing professionals, remember that some of the best employee ambassadors can exist outside of traditional roles. Look for anyone with a strong personal brand or an ability to share their thoughts in a unique way online. The ideal evangelists will be the ones that are committed and passionate.
Step 3: Establish a Social Media Policy
Before you simply set your employees loose on the digital world, it’s important to make sure that the messages they share resonate with your brand image. This doesn’t mean your employees can’t insert their own voice or personality, but more to provide guidelines to help employees understand the voice, tone and message they should use when speaking about your brand.
Ambassadors should infuse positivity around your brand—one way to do this is by taking advantage the social currency your brand ambassadors already have. If a team member has 5,000 followers on Instagram, it’s worth recruiting them for your next visual marketing campaign.
Step 4: Empower Your Ambassadors
Once you’ve got your people, you need to establish a plan. Though it’s crucial to allow your social media brand ambassador team to maintain their unique voice, they’ll also need guidelines and tools to represent your company in the right way.
Establish a centralized process for curating content that your employees can access and share, along with news and information about your company. Showcase and celebrate employees who support you on social media and be ready to provide guidance to anyone who feels uncertain with a list of social media rules.
Examples of the Best Brand Ambassador Programs
Sometimes, the easiest way to answer the question “What is a brand ambassador?” is to look at examples of other companies who have learned how to make the most of their passionate talent pool. If you’re still wondering how you can make the most of your team, here are some of the best brand ambassador programs to help guide your way.
1. General Electric
General Electric separate their employee brand ambassador strategy into four major segments, including ambassador programs, online presence, messaging, and candidate experience. They launched their campaign several years ago after realizing that candidates weren’t getting the best view of the GE brand when they researched the company before a job interview.
To help employees overcome the initial uncertainty of becoming an ambassador, GE implemented a comprehensive training program designed to support anyone interested in sharing positive content on the behalf of their brand. The training course teaches talent the importance of storytelling, how to find the right tone of voice, and how to amplify social messages.
What’s more, General Electric also celebrate each of their ambassadors by sharing links back to their blog and video content on official branded channels like @GEVoices.
Software powerhouse Adobe switched up its social media strategy to involve brand ambassadors after realizing that enthusiastic employees could deliver more traffic to their website than any official presence online. The Adobe Social Business Center of Excellence created a program designed to train people on how they should discuss Adobe online without harming the organization’s reputation.
When it first began, Adobe’s employee-powered blog, “Adobe Life” only had a few hundred visitors per month. Now, thanks to the commitment of employee brand ambassadors, it has tens of thousands. The goal of the new content is to share a behind-the-scenes insight of what it’s like to work at Adobe from the perspective of happy employees.
By celebrating the real stories of its staff, the Adobe brand has become more compelling, and transparent to the public.
Finally, Deloitte believes that its culture and people are a crucial part of what makes the brand so unique. This technology company wanted to highlight the authoritative voices of its interior experts and showcase some of the brightest minds in the business with their own employee brand ambassador strategy.
With “Life at Deloitte“, the company encourages talent to share their experiences in the social world to show people what it’s like to work for the brand. Additionally, as part of their social media education program, Deloitte also asks each team member what they want to be known for online, so that they can help them to build their personal brands.
Another of the best brand ambassador programs around is the one hosted by Microsoft, and Xbox. This brand community taps into both employees, and customers, asking everyone to share their enthusiasm for the gaming device. However, there’s a touch of competition in the mix, as if you want to become an ambassador for Xbox, you need a specific Gamerscore and active membership with Xbox Live.
The ambassadors behind Xbox make up a huge support team of gamers, experts, and authoritative figures. They not only answer questions on the official Xbox forums, but they also host their own Twitch shows, create YouTube videos, and share information about products too. Rather than treating employees and customers differently here, Xbox embraces their brand ambassadors simply as fans of the company.
This means that instead of different rewards for staff and other supporters, everyone gets the same free games, merchandise, and gamer perks that appeal to their interests—fueling ambassadors through passion.
Building Your Own Team of Brand Ambassadors
Creating a team of devoted and passionate brand ambassadors doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. The best voices for your brand are already located within the walls of your company, all you need to do is give them the right strategies, and tools to amplify their message to your customers, shareholders and investors.