6 Common Pitfalls of Brand Ambassador Programs

Brand ambassadors can be one of the most powerful marketing forces for your brand.  In a world where 92% of people trust word-of-mouth marketing and UGC more than advertising, and up to 40% of all traffic and lead generation is created through earned media, it’s critically important to get your customers talking about the brand.

One of the easiest and most consistent ways to generate consistent, positive word-of-mouth marketing and UGC is through brand ambassadors.  They are utilized by almost every major brand in the world, and in many cases, they create enormous lift for the brand.  Who doesn’t want an army of your brand’s most vocal supporters promoting you at every opportunity?

While ambassador programs are critically important demand generators, brands have deployed these programs with varying degrees of success.  For every Pura Vida ambassador program, there are several more that never really catch their stride.

To help ensure that brands get the most out of their ambassador programs, we’ve created a list of common pitfalls and some ideas to help brands get more out of their ambassadors.

6 Common Pitfalls of Brand Ambassador Programs

1 – Too Complicated

The biggest difference (and advantage) of working with brand ambassadors versus influencers is that these are your actual customers.  They are predominantly normal people who just love your brand.  Because most aren’t influencers, they aren’t accustomed to complicated workflows, multiple applications, or elaborate content guidelines.  They just want to talk about the products that they love.

Get out of your own way when it comes to encouraging your customers talk about your products.  Make it simple asks.  Create simple processes.  And let them be creative.

Our rule of thumb for ambassador programs is to just ask your ambassadors to create social media content.  Don’t have them go through your portal, don’t have them sign contracts or make submissions.  Just ask them to post and give you shout-outs.  They are creating content anyway, a simple nudge will keep them focused on creating more high quality content – not complex processes.

2 – Not Organic

Brand ambassadors typically don’t have 100k Instagram followers.  Their strongest asset is their strong connection to their followings, and the trust they share with their audience.  Don’t disrupt that trust and take away their biggest strength by asking them to do things that are not organic.

People are smart.  If you create overly specific content guidelines, caption guidelines, or link requirements, your ambassadors’ audiences will be less impacted.  And your ambassadors will be more reluctant to post content.

Don’t force it.  Trust your ambassadors to give you amazing shout-outs without being overly prescriptive and creating too many content demands.  Don’t ask them to do things that are not organic.

3 – The Wrong Ambassadors

Trust is an important component of any ambassador relationship, particularly when you are gifting free product or giving ambassadors a lot of creative freedom.  For your trust to be rewarded, you’ll need to be working with the right ambassadors.

How do you find the right ambassadors?  The answer is simple – look within.  Your existing customers are always going to be your strongest ambassadors… and the more history you have with a customer… the more you can trust them.  Look for your customers that have supported the brand for years, who have the right kind of audience, and who have been highly engaged.

The more you look outside your network of customers, the more risk you’ll face that the ambassador is not the right fit.  We recommend using your CRM and social tools to see how much history a prospective ambassador has with the brand.

4 – Too Slow

Creating an ambassador program should not be a 6 month endeavor.  In fact, it should probably be less than 30 days from the moment you decide to move forward to the moment your ambassadors are creating content for your brand.

Too many brands spend months trying to create complicated ambassador environments, and often the result is that the whole experience is diluted.  Your ambassadors are supporting the brand because they love your products.  Don’t spend months implementing software and training them only for them to lose that initial excitement.

Your ambassadors will perform the strongest as soon as they join the program.  Get them focused on generating value right away and remove obstacles that would slow down the process.

5 – Just Focusing on Affiliate Links

Most brands agree that Instagram is far and away the most valuable social platform for brands.  Unfortunately, one of Instagram’s biggest limitations is that they don’t allow normal users to post links with their content (the exception being “swipe-ups” for larger influencers).  Creating an ambassador just focused on affiliate links is in essence setting your ambassadors up to fail on your most important platform.

While affiliate links can be a highly effective tool of an ambassador program, if you’re trying to get value out of your ambassadors on Instagram, you’ll need to focus on content generation in addition to links.

6 – No Goals, Accountability, or Conviction

One of the most critical components of any business relationship is clear expectation setting, goals, and accountability.  Too many brands overlook this when creating ambassador programs, particularly referral-style programs, because they believe the relationship is low risk.  Give your ambassador a referral code or affiliate link, and if they don’t use it, what’s the harm?  They just won’t make commissions.

This is an extremely dangerous attitude for an ambassador program.  As discussed, your most powerful ambassadors are your most loyal customers.  You have a finite amount of passionate, loyal customers.  Don’t waste their potential (and your time) by creating a program that isn’t focused on driving serious value.  Create content generation goals, amazing rewards, and a system of accountability.  Being an ambassador is a point of pride for your customers.  Make sure it’s worth the investment for both you and your ambassadors.If you believe that your ambassador program needs to be energized – LoudCrowd offers simple, lightweight solutions to refocus your ambassadors on creating more content than ever before.  We can help you create an ambassador program from scratch in just a matter of weeks, or we can integrate with every existing ambassador solution on the market.  Contact [email protected] for more information or request a demo today.

About LoudCrowd

We believe that the most effective way of marketing and selling your product is through word-of-mouth marketing.  Currently, the best (and most engaging way) for brands to scale word-of-mouth marketing is through User Generated Content (UGC) on social platforms like Instagram.  LoudCrowd helps you analyze your UGC and incentivize your customers to grow it.

About the Author

Gary Garofalo is a marketing focused technologist and the CEO of LoudCrowd. He’s spent his career focused on analytics, strategic consulting, and building technology companies.  When he’s not writing about social media, he spends his free time reading, lamenting over the risks of climate change and artificial intelligence, and playing pickleball with the LoudCrowd team. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

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