Are your customers Fans or Ambassadors?
There are brands, and then there are the super brands. Brands that you hear about constantly, not just from their advertising or clever product placements, but from your colleague at the water cooler; from your friend at the pub, or from share after share in your social media feeds. These brands have transcended basic advertising avenues by creating ambassadors out of their customer base. For the modern day millennial consumer, recommendations and endorsements from inside their social circles are increasingly important when forming brand opinion. With the open ability for the consumer to stamp endorsements on brands and products, particularly through social media channels, being able to turn your own customers into such ambassadors is more impactful to your business than ever.
But true brand ambassadors are earned and can’t be bought. Their love for a brand comes from a developed relationship of trust and understanding. These ambassadors are so loyal to the brand that they will pro-actively recommend it to others.
Listen to identify your true ambassadors
It’s easy to get confused with customers who like your brand or are even fans, and those who are potential, genuine ambassadors. Social media complicates things as ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ on social media are common and many consumers associate this action with keeping their eyes open for discounts and freebies rather than being a real fan. Even fans are not necessarily likely ambassadors - it’s easy to like a product or follow a trend in the market without being real ambassador material.
The trick is to listen, an advantage of social media is that most platforms allow for social listening, so that you can get a sense where, when and how your brand is being spoken about online. Using the online content creation formula of old is a good way to bracket your interactions. 90, 9, 1. 90% of online users will read and absorb content without adding more than a basic ‘like’ or equivalent to the scenario. 9% will engage and interact with the content created by others, shares or comments or equivalent. Only 1% will create content off their own back, these individuals are not only more likely to be ambassadors, but they are also more likely to proactively recommend you.
How to encourage your ambassadors:
1. Acknowledge them
Ambassadors above all desire to be acknowledged. Some brands will choose to reward with products or discounts. Others may simply interact with them directly or offer them thanks for their support. Brands with on-hand social media management in place will want to interact with their ambassadors publically in real time where possible.
2. Surprise and delight them
Again some brands may choose to provide freebies or exclusive promos for ambassadors, but others will go one step further and offer money can’t buy experiences. Dependant on the nature of the business that may be a tour of the brand HQ, a meeting with an associated celebrity or person of significance from the brand. Create an experience that will deepen their love of the brand and give them something to share and talk about.
3. If you don’t ask, you don't get
Many ambassadors, or even fans on the cusp can be easily persuaded to provide a recommendation, a statement or some rated feedback if you simply reach out and ask them. Give fans that little nudge to make them in to an ambassador, to get something from them which is tangible for the brand.
Clichéd as it sounds, love is a two way street. To truly encourage brand love and ambassadors, the brand needs to be able to give back as well.