I’m a big advocate of brand ambassador programs. I’ve built many of these and enjoy being part of them. There are many reasons a company should start a brand ambassador program but today I’m focusing on how a brand ambassador program can help build a content distribution network.
Committing to creating good, original content on a well-designed website is the first step to any content marketing strategy. Once you’ve got all the details like, content producers, editorial calendar, content focus, format and medium nailed down you’re ready to distribute. This is probably the most single difficult thing to do effectively. Your social media channels are a great place for your content distribution but if this has been your only means of distribution you’re probably getting frustrated with lack of engagement or traffic. That’s because your social media channels are simply part of your distribution network and they shouldn’t be relied upon as the sole means of getting your content out there in the world. The reality is that you need other content producers and their social media channels in addition to yours to really get the word out. You can do that by randomly reaching out to these people in your niche or industry but you’ll get better results (and save time) if you reach out to people you already have established relationships, mutual trust and interest. That’s where your brand ambassadors can help you out.
The first thing to realize is that your brand ambassadors maintain their own blogs and as you well know, that takes time and energy. Don’t expect them to simply retweet, repost or allow you to guest blog without returning the favor. You can ask them to distribute your content but you should be distributing theirs in kind if they so wish. Typically, I ask my brand ambassadors to tag me in something they want me to retweet or share. When I want a particular person to share or retweet something I’ve created I do the same thing in return. That way no one has to be on the lookout all the time for what they’re supposed to be sharing. This practice is simple and effective.
If you’ve properly built a brand ambassador program your target audience will be the same as the blogs or websites your brand ambassadors maintain. Don’t assume you have a better audience because you’re a bigger brand. For example, in the fitness industry many brand ambassadors are not just brand ambassadors to one brand. They usually are brand ambassadors for many different brands. They also are active members within those communities and therefore are influencers themselves within multiple circles of fitness brands. I’ve had many brand ambassadors apply to a program because they heard of it from a brand ambassador they know from another company. That’s word of mouth recognition plain and simple. In many cases these people can help reach your target audience and therefore their social media mentions are important. Never be afraid of going too small. I know many brands’ instincts is to blanket the world when it comes to marketing but staying focused on a niche or even an incredibly specific niche can really help your brand grow. Your brand ambassadors blogs may not equate to as much traffic as Mashable or The Wall Street Journal but the target audience is spot-on and therefore important.
Some brand ambassadors are more passionate about your brand than others. Pay attention to these people and reward them in however you can. If one brand ambassador shares everything you post and is constantly talking your product up on their blog or social media channels pay attention to that! That kind of engagement is a gift and should be encouraged. Ask them if they’d like to guest blog on your company website, give them more product, a promo code for a service, a shout out on your social media….something that shows you appreciate their effort and attention. The more they repeat your brand to their own social media audience the more likely it is getting in front of the same people repeatedly and it’s only a matter of time before those people check your brand out. The old marketing rule of 7 comes into mind here.
I like to tell people to create a spreadsheet and list all the websites and or social media channels they know are willing to distribute content. Create a series of dates that represent when content was published. Make note of when various websites/channels engaged or helped distributed your content. Eventually a pattern of who is willing to share your content will emerge and you can focus on those moving forward; maybe even tailor your content on subjects you know their audience likes to read.
If you’ve taken the time to dutifully research and create great content it only makes sense to invest in your content distribution network as well. Brand ambassadors want to see you succeed and will help you get the word out.
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