This is a guest post from Spike Jones — Group Director of Engagement at WCG and co-author of the book Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable Word of Mouth Movements. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.
Ambassadors. They go by many different names these days. Some call them advocates, some just call them community members. But no matter what they’re called, they are a huge, HUGE asset to your company.
And what do you do with assets? Everything within your power to protect them.
It is so fascinating to see how those inside and outside of a company view the role of ambassadors. Remember, at the very core, an ambassador is someone who spreads goodwill. And in the context of brand ambassadors, they are spreading goodwill on behalf of your company. That’s it. That’s all. Case closed.
But we see, time and time again, folks with tunnel-vision that want to use ambassadors for other things.
First of all, we don’t “use” ambassadors. That word — use — carries with it many definitions. The worst of them pointing towards exploitation. So much time and effort goes into building word of mouth ambassador programs from the ground up. Elevating advocates. Tapping into a passion conversation. Creating a brand identity and sense of ownership. These are things that we do to GIVE to the ambassadors. To raise them up. To empower them. And when it’s done right, our ambassadors feel like we’re ambassadors for them. (See how that works?)
As ambassador programs grow, other departments in the company start to take notice.
And when this happens, then those responsible for the program take on a new responsibility — to serve as a shield for the ambassadors. Yes, I hate to say it, but we have to pay attention to the times where we need to protect our ambassadors so they can be what they were meant to be. Ambassadors are not there to get you more views to your YouTube video or more reviews for your product on Amazon. Ambassadors are not there to bump up sales of that old product or retweet your promotion. That’s not their purpose. That’s what the marketing and advertising departments are for.
Sure, sometimes as a halo effect those things will naturally happen. But if you go to the ambassador well asking them to do something for you that they don’t really care about, how much are they going to feel appreciated? Did they raise their hand and pick up the banner of your brand so they could pimp out their friends and followers? Or because they believe in something bigger than themselves?
So don’t forget that one of your most important jobs is protecting your ambassadors.
After all, they’re out there protecting you — both online and off. And they want you to have their back just like they have yours. That’s how successful relationships work.