Whether satisfied customers or employees, a brand’s ambassadors are the most valuable defenders of its reputation. As has already been endorsed in numerous studies, their credibility is much higher than that of the messages issued by the company itself. The horizontal communication they can establish with customers (actual or potential) makes them influential prescribers of the company. However, almost every company that implements one of these programs has the unfinished business of rewarding brand ambassadors.
It seems sensible that if it is estimated that the message issued collectively by the ambassadors of a brand is as efficient or more efficient than a campaign in the conventional media, at least part of the budget that would have been allocated to such media reverts to the benefit of a program that allows coordinating, evaluating, promoting and –in some way- rewarding the activity of the ambassadors. Let’s look at this problem from different perspectives :
Spontaneous Ambassadors: These are the clients or workers of a company who, on their initiative and driven by their identification with the product, values , or attributes of a brand, decide to make positive mentions of it on social networks, acting as prescribers of the same, resolving doubts to other users or clients, defending it in the face of eventual reputation crises, etc. It is the most genuine case of what has been called ‘evangelization’ in favor of a commercial brand. The individuals who describe this type of behavior do not expect to receive anything in return, since their counterpart is the satisfaction they feel for the product or service they are talking about and the reward of their vanity by becoming a referent of said product or service before them. Third parties.
However, there are many ways a company can reward brand ambassadors. The key to this ‘retribution’ (if we can call it) is that it must be done in a way that does not become an obligation, nor does it pervert the disinterested behavior of the ambassadors. The relationship between a brand and its ambassadors should not be based on the principle of ‘Do ut des.’ Still, at the same time, it should point out to the latter that the brand is aware of their effort, appreciates it, and rewards it unsystematically. of small courtesies that allow the ambassadors to feel appreciated. Like so many other relationships based on affection and mutual trust, a gift from time to time will be a beautiful gesture. Still, this practice should not be abused to avoid the relationship being based on skills or that the eventual absence of the same causes disappointment or dissatisfaction.
Some ideas to reward spontaneous ambassadors could be:
- Monitor their positive mentions and respond or retweet them to show that we care about what they say and appreciate it.
- Please include them in a program of visits to the company’s facilities.
- Give them discounts on their subsequent purchases.
- Allow them to try some products exclusively on a preferential basis at their launch (which does not necessarily mean giving them away).
- Please include them in a polling panel about potential product improvements or future product design.
- Allow them to appear or collaborate distinctively on the company’s blog or social networks.
- Please include them in the draw for a gift or batch of products.
- Make for them a promotional gift of little value but unique and personalized.
All these actions, and many other similar ones that can occur, require a minimum budget and allow the ambassador to know that the brand is aware of their effort and values it. In addition, we must not forget one last positive effect: reward actions of this type will probably be disseminated through the beneficiary’s social networks, which will benefit the company’s image.
Teams of Ambassadors Articulated From The Companies: These are, in general, workers of a firm who are especially active on social networks and who, for reasons identical to those of the spontaneous ambassadors, agree to become part of an organized group that behaves in general terms like the previous group of ambassadors, but under the tutelage of the company’s communication department.
This type of ambassador is, if possible, more effective than the first one because although the power of their message is the same, their collective action allows the intensity, tone, and frequency of their messages to be modulated in a certain way. Such a team should never become a mere speaker of ‘his master’s voice’ (which would go against the basic definition of a brand ambassador). Still, suppose the communication department manages to establish a line of good collaboration with its members. In that case, it will ensure optimum capillarization of its messages and the best early reaction team in the event of a possible reputation crisis.
Any of the proposals in the previous point would work to reward brand ambassadors, but since they are company employees. With the permission of human resources policies, some of the following practices could be added:
- Training programs (introductory or specialization) in the use of social networks.
- Access to social networks in their work teams.
- Facilities for reconciling their activity as ambassadors with the rest of their tasks.
- Preferential use for the most active of some company facilities (gym, recreational areas, etc.).
- Preferential participation in company events, whether of a general nature or specifically related to their activity on social networks.
- Participation in targeted ‘social coaching’ programs allows workers to go beyond platforms to become dynamic assets and ‘hubs’ of their social networks.
- Participation in committees and working groups aimed at transforming into a social company, permeating the barriers that separate the silos of knowledge through social networks.
The availability of a motivated, trained and organized team of ambassadors is an asset that is difficult to achieve. It must be valued and taken care of in its proper measure. Large companies have been dedicating an increasing part of their promotional budgets to this type of strategy for some time now. Accepting that brands are talked about on the internet, particularly on social networks, monitoring and intervening in these conversations is vital to act on corporate online reputation and reward brand ambassadors for their work. It becomes a valuable catalyst for the success of the project.
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