Before we begin, I want to drive home the idea that you cannot be successful leveraging ambassador marketing if you do not have a strong social game, or in the case of the small business owner a half-way decent one. So, trying to supercharge your social without a good foundation will not prove successful. Once your base social media presence is on point, amplifying your organic exposure will be much easier.
When trying to find WHO you want to re-share your social messages, you really need to think both at a categorical level as discussed in the introduction then dive deeper into your businesses value chain. If you recall from the introduction, there are three types of Ambassador Marketing:
Affiliate - when a brand partners with independent contractors to sell their products or services.
Influencer - when a brand compensates a public figure to promote their business.
Advocate - the act of people promoting a brand for altruistic reasons. For example, I might feel compelled to share a social message that is posted by my favorite charity or church. I do it because I want to help, not because I’m getting paid or being given free merchandise.
Who is the right kind of ambassador for your business?
Every business has a different marketing strategy. If you have an affiliate program in your business, then affiliates are clearly a very qualified WHO to re-share your messages and they have a clear cut WHY (remember WIIFM?). They re-share a message and utilize it to provide a link or code (however you’ve structured your program) that drives people to purchase, and they get a commission. Easy peasy!
I’m a big fan of affiliate marketing because it’s a form of pay for performance marketing so the small business owner can only win from leveraging a program like this. Roofers have definitely received the memo, in the form of common place referral programs. It’s really the same thing. You refer someone to a business that converts into a paying customer, and they give you a % of the revenue or flat fee, etc. for bringing in the business.
Now for Influencers. This has become a very common practice in recent years. In this case your WHO is also very clearly qualified. You’ve chosen them because your demographic is already following them, and your business is the business they’re in. They influence others and receive compensation for promoting your products and/or services. They have a rock solid WHY to re-share your messages because they receive compensation in the form of payment, free products, etc.
Though a very powerful form of marketing, there are no guarantees in the Influencer game. This form of marketing is a lot like SEO, you invest in whatever it takes to drive your rank on Google (See my guide “What you can do to drive SEO” at www.jenveerma.com/seo.) and then hold your breath. Influencers are very influential and can definitely drive your brand but if you’re going to leverage something like that you should at least try to get as much value out of it as possible. What do I mean? Simply, just make sure you have a way to approve the content they are creating on behalf of your business and the right legal vehicles in place so that you own that content. There are a number of tools on the market that can help with this but most are designed to not just help you manage your influencer relationships but also source them, so the price points can be a barrier to entry for most small business owners.
Affiliate and influencer marketing are simple to understand and generally simple to implement. Advocacy marketing however is a little more complicated to harness BUT if you can solve for your WHO, their WHY and your HOW then it can be a VERY powerful tool for small businesses and solo-preneurs.
Every business is different and has different types of people that are the right WHO for them. As an example, if you are a charity then a very natural WHO for you would be people who donate to your cause, let’s call them your ‘crowd’. WHY? They care about whatever cause you’re supporting and most likely would love to share any social messages to promote it. This is a very simple use case of how you can use your ‘crowd’ to drive organic exposure for your brand on a shoe-string budget.
Admittedly, it’s not quite as simple for all businesses to find their WHO. Some things to consider when you’re trying to identify who might be a good WHO for your business are:
What demographic are you trying to reach and are they aligned with that. If your demographic is 23-year-old college students, then you probably don’t want to ask your Nana to share social messages for you because the likelihood of her being connected to 23-year-old college students is very small. Similarly, if you’re targeting people in Seattle, you wouldn’t ask someone in Florida to be your WHO.
Would your posts make for engaging content for them? Is this something that would be interesting and/or relevant for them to share? For example, if you have a crafting business a likely advocate for you may very well be your Nana as maybe that’s a hobby that she has and shares with her friends.
How strong is their “WHY”? You need to consider if they have a motivation to re-share your messages. Many people are not comfortable re-sharing messages on their social media. Therefore you need to make sure they have a very strong WHY before you ask for their advocacy. Nana will do it because she loves you and is proud of you. People who donate to a charity would want to raise awareness.
People DO NOT have to share to their personal profile. They can share to business pages and groups too. So, the idea of engaging content can be very broad.
Some typical WHO’s include:
Friends and Family
Association Members - networking groups, women in business, girl scouts, etc.
Strategic Partners – People with whom you refer business back and forth but are not in competition with
Supporters – charities, fundraisers, etc.
Fans – in the case of musicians, sports figures, etc.
Your WHO wants to support you for their unique reasons, but it is VERY important to not overuse their good will. What does that mean?
One of two things:
Either set their expectations up front that though they may receive 2-3 social posts to their phone a week you in no way expect them to re-share everything. They can choose what makes sense to them and use discretion. If you’re doing your social media correctly, the odds are they will find something engaging and want to re-share.
Be very selective about whom you ask to share which posts. A couple of examples include:
You may have different categories of advocates. Like, I have a client that runs a business support company that provides bookkeeping, HR, recruiting, etc. They create posts that are specific to their different verticals, and they have advocates that are aligned with each vertical. Now it would not make sense to ask an advocate on the HR side to share a bookkeeping post and vice versa. Stay true to your demographic.
The same is true in the case of a client that has multiple markets around the nation, with advocates in each market. When he or she creates a post, some are relevant nationally while others are only relevant to the specific market and/or region they are in.
One more example is a health insurance broker that I work with. Some of the plans they use and promote over social media are intended for young single healthy people. Whereas some are more about the critical illness plans targeted at the older generations. Now he would not ask the same advocate community to share each. He would be selective about whom he chooses to re-share so that the message was relevant and valuable to the demographic they are connected to.
The moral of the story?
Make sure whomever you're asking to share your messages is relevant to the topic, location, demographic, etc. at hand. Choosing the wrong advocates will cause the whole initiative to fall short. If you’ve ever boosted a post on Facebook, it’s really the same exercise. Facebook asks you to pick and age and a location and interested, etc. You are performing the same exercise with the people in your sphere of influence. Go ahead and take out a piece of paper and write down all the people you think are your WHO’s then categorize them because each category may have a different WHY.
Next week we’ll learn more about how to give your WHO a strong WHY!