Employee participation in brand ambassador programmes
When it comes to implementing a Brand Ambassador programme, there is always an initial hurdle that companies have to face: employee involvement. We are all naturally resistant to change. Employee reluctance is likely to manifest itself in phrases such as "it's not my job", "I don't have time" or "I don't know how to do it". Even those who are most interested are likely to be cautious at first and look around to see if their colleagues will step forward.
This is understandable. Everyone is busy enough at work and a new task that does not come with financial compensation can be seen more as an imposition than an opportunity. What incentive can a CFO, a salesperson or a warehouse officer have to write a post for the corporate blog or to share an update on their company's LinkedIn page? And if we add to this a lack of experience in the online world, a lack of involvement with the brand or the desire for personal and professional life to remain isolated... Yes, it seems like an insurmountable barrier. But don't worry, like all obstacles, it can be overcome.
Involvement of employees as Brand Ambassadors: 15 tips to keep in mind
From Integra we would like to share with you some tips, a list of good practices that you should observe in order to stimulate the participation of your company's employees in a Brand Ambassador programme. However, remember, an activity like this presupposes that there is a favourable working environment in the organisation that will not hinder the development of this kind of initiatives. If you are not sure about this, perhaps you should start by doing a simple work climate survey to find out exactly what your starting situation is. In fact, we could say that this is the first piece of advice we can give you. From there, there are 15 other things to consider:
Ambassadors should be volunteers
You should not force employees to participate in your ambassador programme. Membership should always be voluntary. Ambassadors should be proud of their work, the company they work for or the vision and values that emanate from it. This is a prerequisite for them to be able to pass on their passion to others. If we don't light the fire and fan it with gasoline, we will get a flame that will be extinguished very soon.
Each ambassador has a style that characterises him or her and connects with the audience.
Encourage the promotion of your employees' personal brand in parallel to the corporate brand. Give your employees the freedom to show themselves as they are on social media and highlight their uniqueness and individuality. Think that your audience is interested in the personal touch that gives your content their opinion, their expectations, their experience. You don't want a team of palmiers who simply re-post company-generated content, as this type of activity would be of little interest and would have a very short lifespan. The success of an ambassador programme depends to a large extent on the ability of ambassadors to create their own content that connects with their audience, and for that you need to train them and allow them a certain amount of freedom of action.
They must know and be aligned with the corporate culture.
Explain your brand's mission, vision and values to your employees. This will be the common thread of much of the content they will share. They should know it and internalise it, so that they are able to relate it to the story about their experience in the company. This will ensure that the personal style and content is aligned with the brand, creating the perfect blend.
Determine the quid pro quo for participation and make sure they know it.
Define a clear value proposition for the programme and make sure everyone knows it. Explain what you expect from the ambassadors, but also what you are willing to give in return. Employee participation will be influenced by their personal balance of effort and reward. The rewards in these programmes tend to be mostly in the form of intangibles, and that makes it even more important to define them precisely: training, notoriety, access to social networks at work, relationships with people from other areas of the company, access to exclusive information, advantage in internal promotions... whatever the consideration you offer, ambassadors should know about it.
Be the example to follow
Lead by example. The top management of the company should be involved in the programme, and its members should be the first ambassadors. It is even better if it is possible to involve the general management. In a voluntary activity like this, employees will be more inclined to collaborate if they see that their managers are willing to make the same effort they are asked to make.
Acknowledge the work and give feedback
A sincere congratulation or a timely congratulations can be as motivating as a reward, if not more so. Take advantage of the reach of social media for the company's CEO to highlight the work of its ambassadors. Make everyone feel part of the same team and that spirit of belonging makes them feel special.
Apply Gamification techniques to your programme
Try to make your ambassadors' experience fun. Implement dynamics that establish healthy competition between them and others that encourage them to collaborate. Set short-term goals in combination with long-term objectives and make employee participation fun and light-hearted.
Start with a pilot project
Identify the employees who are most committed to the brand and its values and create a group of pioneers. It doesn't need to be very large. Their role will be to arouse curiosity among their colleagues and catalyse interest in the programme. Try to make sure that this first group of facilitators has a certain degree of digital skills and a minimum of previous experience in social networks so that everything flows more quickly.
Start with a pilot project
Identify the employees who are most committed to the brand and its values and create a group of pioneers. It does not need to be very large. Their role will be to arouse curiosity among their colleagues and catalyse interest in the programme. Try to make sure that this first group of dynamisers has a certain degree of digital skills and a minimum of previous experience in social networks so that everything flows more quickly.
Establish the incentive system
Avoid any direct payment formula for the ambassadors' services, as this would contravene the nature of the project, but complement the intangible remuneration with a prize or extraordinary gift. There are many possibilities: books, tickets to shows, subscriptions to digital platforms, restaurant vouchers, discounts on services such as nursery schools or playgrounds, etc. You can exchange them for points obtained for participating, give them to ambassadors who excel in certain activities, or periodically raffle them among the whole team. Think about which system will keep the team motivated and which fits within your budget, but make a minimal investment in these rewards. Projects based solely on intangible rewards tend to have lower levels of participation.
Create a reference manual for your ambassador project.
Reflect your brand values, objectives, the types of content to be disseminated, what you expect from ambassadors and what you offer for employee participation in your programme. Make the programme transparent and create an environment where everyone has certainty about its mission and purpose. This will make it easier for more and more people to join the project, and will save you onboarding work for new members.
Measure what is happening in the project.
If you have clear objectives, you should establish the appropriate KPIs to report on how well they are being met. Create a dashboard that allows you to know at all times the value of these KPIs and take corrective action if something is not going as expected.
Make the project scalable and publicise it, inside and outside the company.
Constantly try to involve new participants. Publicise their achievements to staff, make presentations, highlight the best ambassadors and publicise any prizes or rewards you give out. Make the ambassador project a space for cross-cutting collaboration that generates curiosity and interest. Facilitate new recruits.
Make it easy for your ambassadors to access the content you want them to disseminate.
Make available to them, with minimal effort, an up-to-date repository of news, data, and information in all kinds of formats so that they can select what best suits their interests and those of their audience. Ambassadors are fertile content creators, but they cannot carry all the creative weight of the programme, otherwise there will be no common thread and it will be very difficult to ensure that you maintain a minimum homogeneity in the message. Provide them with sufficient information to serve as inspiration and example and they will do the rest by personalising it and creating complementary ideas.
Give your ambassadors a broad view of what is happening in the company.
Give them facts, beyond what is strictly related to their job. The broader their perspective, the more likely they are to identify aspects they find relevant to their audience's interest. Moreover, such an overview will normally be seen as a privileged position in itself, which will reinforce a sense of ownership, serve as a stimulus and have a positive impact on employee participation in the programme.
Plan and surround yourself with a trusted team to carry it out.
And last but not least: if you have read this far, you will have sensed that organising a brand ambassador programme is no trivial matter: it requires considerable effort and involves a long list of factors that need to be worked out properly if you want to achieve the expected results. That is why it is advisable to call in experts to help you plan all the steps and get it rolling. At Integra we are pioneers in the implementation of brand ambassador programmes in Spain and we have developed a proven methodology with numerous success stories.
If you would like more information on how to organise a brand ambassador programme, do not hesitate to contact us, we will be delighted to help you make your project a success!