In 2014, the concepts between ambassadors and influencers in social media have found themselves, now more than ever, central to the concerns of businesses and brands. With traditional marketing failing to reach customers and make an impact, marketing agencies, and public relations began to appeal to influencers and ambassadors, hoping to generate word-of-mouth and get recommendations.
The interests of social media ambassador programs in business
Through experiments, two trends stand out in the marketing influence of social media. On the one hand, social capital influence, measured by algorithms remains very relative and can’t be applied to the objectives of a campaign. The impact of influencers is limited. On the other hand, a growing number of professionals and companies are gradually shifting to ambassadors in companies that have better potential.
For a little over a year, this phenomenon has developed in several organizations. Several scholars have studied it, and many articles have been written to analyze and describe the real value of ambassador’s companies. I, myself wrote some notes on the subject, and I devote an entire chapter in my new book entitled Generation C: The Key of Social Media Influence Marketing.
Recently, Neal (Schaffer) and PeopleLinx also published a complete guide that explains how to build an effective ambassador program on LinkedIn and Twitter: Social Marketing – How To Build an Employee Advocacy Program
Personalize and humanize the brand-customer relationship
Just like the example of TELUS I described recently on Maximize Social Business, we can also relate to several other success stories of organizations that have implemented the ambassadors in business programs to reach their customers more effectively. Such as Yahoo!, Salesforce SAP, Electronic Arts and Adobe, who are at the top of the ranking list of Sociallook Leaderboard.
As demonstrated by Neal in his book, an effective program of ambassadors will have several positive effects on the organization. Employee engagement will increase the scope of the brand in social media, and it’s credibility and build a strong network around consumers. The business ambassadors program will also listen to the client, and will better measure the effectiveness of its intervention in social networks and be able to adjust accordingly. Companies and brands must go to their employees for ambassadors.
In the US, over 93% of companies with more than 100 employees are on social media. And while consumer confidence in brands and officers (CEO) declined (less than 15% overall). The confidence in employees has increased by more 20% during the past five years (Source: Edelman Trust Barometer). Currently, over 70% of brand perception by consumers is determined by the experience with an individual representative of the brand. All research points in this direction; Ambassadors have become the most credible brand and organization voice. Consumers want to contact individuals, humans like them. The commitment of ambassador’s humanizes and personalizes the brand-customer relationship.
This is the personal commitment of companies that use ambassadors to install a trusting relationship, which regularly result in new business opportunities and real sales. But the commitment of ambassadors will also significantly improve the efficiency of customer service, management of human resources and public relations. And, it will often better manage crisis situations that are sure to arrive on social networks.
On social networks, anyone can generate a crisis
In social networks, you know, any lambda can overnight be one of the worst critics of a brand or organization. From the point of view of consumer, it is the power of influence he doesn’t hesitate to use to get satisfaction. And, despite the examples of public relations or customer service gaffes that continually multiply through social networks, recent studies show that nearly 60% of companies do not have a plan to deal with a crisis.
Examples of Heather Armstrong (Dooce) with Maytag / Whirlpool, or Canadian musician Dave Carroll (DaveCarroll), with United Airlines (United Breaks Guitars), describes the power of negative influence that can be seen on social networks. In these two famous cases, they were able to use social networks to amplify their message, and use their misfortune to call attention to the lack of customer service. In 2013, a pastor, with 24,000 “followers” on Twitter brought attention to a labeling error on Bibles and suddenly Costco is faced with a major crisis to manage on social media. Recently, pressure from Greenpeace on social networks pushed the toy maker Lego to end a lucrative agreement with Shell.
After these monumental mistakes that cost companies fortunes, employee reputation, the online reputation of companies and brands takes a double value, and crisis management is now a priority. Smart companies now understand the importance of managing their online reputation. In recent years, several organizations have implemented “Social War Room ‘monitoring of social media (such as Dell, IBM, Nestle, KLM, CISCO, Southwest Airlines, and many others) to better manage these crisis situations.
But in a crisis generated by a PR error or poor customer service if the apology comes from the staff, it will generally be accepted. If the company knows, through his ambassadors, to demonstrate openness and honesty, and be transparent in its response, it often manages to defuse the crisis.
Hand over the keys to the social media ambassadors and put them in the driver’s seat
However, because the commitment ambassadors have is based mainly on spontaneity and authenticity of their recommendations, it can hardly be controlled or contrived. The commitment should be motivated by other incentives. Companies must seek to develop a sense of pride and belonging. And if employees feel the same time to serve and defend a social cause that is just and honorable, their commitment will be even larger.
Brands like Adobe have developed effective corporate program ambassadors, providing internal support to facilitate their tasks and put in place the infrastructure, policies and training. In the summer of 2014, more than a third of Adobe’s 11,000 employees worldwide had spontaneously followed the ¨Social Shift¨ training program to become brand ambassadors in social networks.
In their e-book, Neal and team PeopleLinx also offer a range of incentives, such as the “gamification” of corporate objectives, recognition of top contributors, internal merit awards (badging), the co-creation of content (crowd-sourcing) and exclusive access to certain privileges.
Following the example of TELUS and other brands that have managed to involve their best ambassadors in establishing their own agenda and their own incentives. Each organization will find the benefits of their best social capital; its staff. We must hand over the keys and let them settle into the driver’s seat.
What do you think? What are your experiences with the social media ambassadors in companies? Share your comments and ideas.
Check out more on social media ambassadors in this awesome infographic from PR Daily.