A radical thought on brand ambassadors (prompted by @coryedwards and Social Media Today)

Here is a thought to end the week.  There is a view out there that a good way to use social media is to find  and cultivate a group of people who can become brand ambassadors – representatives of a brand within the consumer community.  I don’t support this approach.  I think a much better approach is to use social media to establish consumer ambassadors within your brand.

The key to this is understanding the difference between a super-fan and a brand ambassador.  A super-fan is someone who, for whatever reason, has a particular passion or interest in your brand.  There will not be many of them (almost always significantly less than one per cent of your consumer base).  These are also the same people that might appear to qualify as brand ambassadors.  However, these people rarely want to talk to the rest of your consumers, they would much prefer to talk to other people like them, or to the brand itself.  Even if they did want to represent your brand, you would have to question their suitability – because, by definition, they will not be representative of your consumers.  They may even come across as rather strange to the 99.9 per cent who don’t share their particular passion.

So – to use these people effectively, you need to go with their flow.  You need to motivate the behaviours that they are already inclined towards, and this generally means involving them in your business, rather than promoting your business.

I was prompted to write this having tuned in to the #allthingscustomer  webinar yesterday organised by Social Media Today.  Not sure if this will be podcasted – but if it is, it is well worth checking out (watch this space).  @coryedwards from Dell was talking about how Dell had identified “ranters and ravers” from their social media monitoring.  Rather than try and convert the ranters and encourage the ravers to go and rave some more (i.e. become brand ambassadors), what Dell did was bring these people together, offline, with the people from Dell who were seen as activators – i.e. the key Dell people who needed to hear what these people had to say and were empowered to go and do something with this information.  Basically Dell was creating customer ambassadors within the organisation.  Dell originally held two of these session and this year they are holding 20 – from which we can assume that this idea is working.  I wonder if any brands have set up a Customer Embassy within their organisations.  Might be an interesting idea.

(This is really a build on a previous post about digital influence http://richardstacy.com/2012/05/15/are-digital-influencers-actually-that-important/)


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