Saturday, February 25, 2017

Thoughts and Tips on being a Brand Ambassador!

Congratulations you’re a Brand Ambassador!

This is always a good email opening line. I have been fortunate enough to have received this several times a year for the last several years!

This is an updated post of one I wrote a couple of years ago. Since then Social Media has continued to grow and change. I have kept up with some of it but some of it has passed me by, I have almost given up trying to figure out SnapChat! The core principle of using Ambassadors is to promote a company’s products or philosophy. It does, however, still remain much more of an art than a science. It is an ever developing field that some companies do very well in and others less so. Having been an Ambassador for different companies of varying sizes my experiences have differed greatly. It’s a tricky and sometimes unbalanced equation that needs constant attention to avoid going stale. So, while I am no marketeer but I do feel, that through my experiences, I have a pretty good understanding of the basics and principles that should be considered. This experience is as both an Ambassador and the role that entails and also the expectations that you could have or should from the company’s Ambassador Program. It should be a two way street and the expectations should be very clear. With that said this post only looks at the Ambassadorial responsibilities side of the equation. It’s also a pretty opinionated post based on the things I think are correct. It is in no way meant to be a definitive guide but more of a Stuart’s Brand Ambassadorship 101! So with that overly long preamble said let’s move on…


The Product. I personally still believe that this a fundamental basic for being an Ambassador is that you use the Product. In my mind being an Ambassador is a step up from essentially being a Power User. That said it this 100% determined by the brand. Some brands may be looking for net new users who have a large online or in real life presence and influence. Using the product manifests itself in many different ways and the subtleties of messaging come much more into play.

· Given that a picture is worth 1000 words and the nature of Instagram photography plays a huge role. It’s easy to plonk X product in the middle of the photo and say “this thing is great”! To a point this works but it is pretty blunt. The art comes in when you don’t actually have the product in the photo or it is not the main point of focus. It is much more of a lifestyle statement. You don’t have to be David Bailey or Annie Leibowitz but you do need to know some basics. There are plenty of online tutorials about stylizing your photographs and the rule of thirds etc. Spend a little time understanding these things and your photography will improve and along with it your traction.

· Understand the differences between a Reviewer vs. Ambassador. As a Reviewer you need to be impartial and factual. I have written over 100 reviews of products either sent to me or purchased by me (it’s about 50/50). When something works for me I say that and when it doesn’t I say that too. With that said there is often the complaint that reviews are far too often positive. This is a fair point and some of that is driven by the fact that;

· I typically research something before I buy it. I have a need, researched some options and made a choice on the final item. I do have a limited budget (really I do) and this is not a full time gig. Buying random stuff to try and never use again is a waste of my resources; time and money.

· Secondly there are things that I do not use and as a result will not review, these to fall into the camp of “if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is probably a duck! You may have noticed I am not much into ducks so I pass! So this skews the body of reviews on a whole to the more positive side.

· You are typically reviewing something new to you or new to the market. This is kind of obvious but sometimes the obvious things are missed!

· Avoid Brand Conflicts. Again pretty obvious but worth stating. You can’t (usually) be an Ambassador for competing products. Clif vs. PowerBar is an obvious example. You can of course review both products as a Reviewer.

So in summary there is a big difference from being a Reviewer and a BA. As an Ambassador you are expected to (depending on the Brand’s criteria) evangelize their products both online and in real life. If you actually use it this is easy, much less so if you have no idea about it! Using it really means using it, documenting it and then telling everyone what you did!

Social Medial.  Social Media, love it or hate it is here to stay. These are some specific tips;

· From a practical standpoint try to have the same User Name across all accounts, “QUADRATHON” is a throwback to a Nike+ challenge that started in 2006. You can read more here about it. I use the same name across all of my accounts, Google it, I have 3 of the top 5 search results. Having different names across all your accounts is confusing! This can be a pain if you have already set things up with different names but it is worth checking to see if the actual name is available across all social platforms

· Blogging. Back in the day when I started blogging Facebook, Twitter and Instagram didn’t exist! I carried a real camera and had a phone that was just that…a phone! Bloggers left comments on each other’s post and you had a blogroll of likeminded people. Ten years on Blogging is pretty old school but they do serve a good purpose for long form writing.

· Twitter and Instagram. Unlock your accounts, nobody is not going to see anything if your account is locked. But it’s what people use so it’s time to be a bit less private! Make sure you profile is up to date. Add a link to your blog etc. get a nice Profile Pic, all basic but important stuff!

· Facebook. Personally this is locked for Friends only, and I am sure they get sick of my recipes and tire reviews but I am constantly adding new friends! It’s personal preference if you want to “friend” all the other Ambassadors. I am a little selective.

· Facebook Groups is a great way to link up with other BAs, share ideas, collaborate and so on but for every post you post to the group make sure you posted it outside the group too. There is no point in preaching to the converted! It’s also a great channel to communicate with the Company. Several companies that I am a BA for have been using Facebook Live to essentially have online staff meetings where they discuss all manner of things. Super interactive and actually hearing and seeing a person makes it a much more of a conversation.

· SnapChat…like I said I am lost with this!

· Hashtaging. Find out what hashtags you need to use and then use them. Once you start most Phone Apps remember them so that makes things easier! If you can’t remember them create a note on your phone and then just copy and paste into your posts. I use a great App called Often Type that allows me to create Hashtag “buckets” and with a simple tap I can drop them into a post. Find out the accounts of your Product, follow them and tag them when you post Most Brands make this a must but you should be doing that at every opportunity. Some platform allow you set up alerts so you don’t miss a post, this is especially useful when Facebook is using some weird algorithm to catalog and prioritize posts. Again, as with most things in life, there is some common sense needed. Going overboard is simply that! Less is often more and several key hashtags will garner more love that a list as long as your arm.

· Overall you have to be comfortable using it and you need to have a presence. By presence I mean a following. You need to be what is considered an influencer this means having the ability to some sway or be able to persuade peoples choices based on your evangelism!

So there you go some thoughts, if you were selected this year as an Ambassador congratulations, if not you have 9 months to consider the above points. Getting an Ambassadorship is just the beginning! That initial giddiness of receiving the Congratulations email is just the start of the journey. The next 10 or so months are yours to fill with tweets, tags and posts, putting miles on shoes, sweating into clothes, scoffing kitchen creations. You have every weekend to fill with long runs rides or swims and at the end you get tell everyone about it!

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