5 things you should know before hiring Social Ambassadors for Your Brand
- October 17, 2018
- By Adam Preston
Social media should be an extension of your existing marketing strategy. Achieving this goal can be daunting when you’re too busy worrying about fulfilling orders and working with business partners. It seems like the rest of the outdoors industry is relying on social media liaisons. Can it work for you?
1. Ambassadors Can Energize Your Brand
In the early days of outdoors television, the hot term was “paid pro-staffer.” Companies realized they could meet marketing goals by assembling a team of wide-eyed outdoorsmen who yearned for landing real jobs in the industry. For the most part, these were highly experienced hunters and fishermen who combined their outdoors skills with varying levels of salesmanship to land these positions.
In exchange for working trade shows, consumer expos and even producing video content, these pro-staffers worked long and hard to promote brands. Smart companies wrote up contracts and paid these pro-staffers for their loyalty. However, the pay wasn’t much, and often included product discounts. Pro-staffers saw these agreements as the best of both worlds — a little bit of cash, hunting products and a world of opportunity to “prove themselves” to the rest of the industry.
Some of these pro-staffers burned out after a couple of years “on the job.” Others, however, hit stardom and parlayed their exposure — and brand allegiances — into full-time jobs (usually for someone else).
2. They’re a Cheap Form of Instant Marketing
Today, the social media ambassador has replaced the pro-staffer. The prerequisites of being an ambassador are merely looking the part, or simply looking good. Most of the top pro-staffers from the 1990s were guys who were already well known in their local communities for being top-notched hunters and anglers. The Internet and, more specifically, social media pages, changed all that. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (especially) are littered with individuals with tens of thousands of followers. A quick glance at their posts reveal a certain level of authentic interest in their outdoors subject matter of choice. It takes a much deeper dive into their profiles, however, to determine whether the individual is legit or is just really good at taking photographs.
Regardless, the top social ambassadors from social media can provide segmented marketing for brands and manufacturers. And, if they’re relatively unknown within the industry, they usually come cheap, often working for free or discounted merchandise; promises of insider networking; or perhaps a small pittance of a retainer. Further, for the true outdoorsmen and women who fall into this category, being a brand ambassador is a means to an end. They simply enjoy the notoriety that comes with being affiliated with a brand.
3. They Can Provide a Level of Customer Service
The best social ambassadors are those who develop a fierce allegiance to a brand. They’re already on social media (practically all day long, I might add), and they will assist your brand by monitoring posts and answering questions posed by your fans on your pages, helping customers with trouble-shooting problems and steering customers to special events and/or sales. They can also work special events for you, including trade shows and consumer expos.
Having a whip-smart ambassador on your affiliate team can be like having an extra person in the office, except they don’t go home at 5 o’clock. As a freelance ambassador, in their mind, they’re always on the clock, because they’re eager to please you. After all, in their mind, those extra efforts will pay off in the long run.
And that where the problems can begin …
4. Ambassadors Can Hijack Your Brand
Left unchecked, a social ambassador might quickly acquire a strong sense of entitlement. The illusion of social media is focused on “being liked,” and when an ambassador amasses more fans (sometimes tens of thousands more) than your brand, the perception becomes “they are the brand.”
This is perhaps one of the hardest things to differentiate when it comes to businesses and personalities. If the personality who’s promoting your business is not you or a trusted employee, it’s critical to build in marketing plans to minimize their impact. The idea is not to diminish their presence; it’s more of a safeguard to draw a clear and distinct line that puts the business at the top and the ambassador(s) as distinct contributors who can and will be replaced.
5. They Can Compete with Your Brand
The best ambassadors are already successful self-marketers. They have their own social media pages and, sometimes, successful websites. Be wary of social ambassadors who offer their services as merely a ploy to drive their own interests. As an ambassador, their #1 job is to make you look good by driving more business your way. This can easily be tracked through a myriad of analytical tools.
Inbound traffic should be coming to you from them (not the other way around), and your brand or business should be relentlessly linked in all of their online content. This includes hot links in textual posts, tags in social posts and omnipotent PR references to your brand during public events.
What to Look For in an Ambassador
If you don’t currently have ambassadors in your business plan but plan to incorporate them in the future, start by casting aside any desire to have an entire team or legion of them plastering photos all over Instagram for you. Instead, draft a simple document that you can use when you start your search.
At the very least, look for people who:
•are highly organized.
•are humble and disciplined enough to take direction from your team of in-house employees.
•are eager to please, driven by online metrics and have a working knowledge of your brand and the industry in which you serve.
Yes, you should be wary of social ambassadors. Although a group of free (or really cheap) flag-wavers might seem like a good thing to kick-start anything from a new product campaign to a social media effort, social ambassadors must be continually scrutinized to make sure they won’t hamstring your end goals. This is not to say ambassadors or even a pro-staff approach can’t or won’t work for your business needs. Simply put, finding enough right-minded individuals that are all on the same page will cost you time and effort that will remain a revolving door as long as you have the program in place.
Whether or not it will work for you is something you’ll have to learn through trial end error.
Editor’s Note: This is the final installment in our three-part series on ways to improve your business by extending your reach to new markets. Read 5 THINGS TO STOP DOING ON FACEBOOK IN 2018 and 5 WAYS TO REACH MORE WOMEN HUNTERS. Then, to further grow your business, contact a Realtree Licensing Account Manager to discuss ways we can work together.
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