Brand ambassadors.

If you haven’t heard the term than don’t fret – we’ll be covering them in detail throughout this post.

What you should know, right now, is that these are the individuals that stick through the thick and thin of your brand.

They’re the ones getting to the streets to talk about your offerings (without having to tell them), and they’re the ones that will take your online business to the next level because they have the tools and know-how when it comes to promotion.

So, just to recap before we get started:

  • Brand ambassador are (generally) your most loyal and vocal community members
  • They’re the ones that push hard with word-of-mouth recommendations
  • Your sales, reach, and authority will grow with each additional ambassador

Sounds good, right?

Here’s how you can begin recruiting them:

Step 1: Identify and categorize your fans

The first step, as with any type of research, is to take the time to monitor your social and website activity to see who is active in commenting and sharing (plus if they’re emailing you). Go back through your website comments, social updates, and following to see who’s very active in the community, and then begin categorizing these individuals which gives them a rank and “weight” when it comes to getting in touch down the line.

For example: You may find a handful of individuals that share each and every status update you have on your Facebook page – that’s potential!

Step 2: Give a test (and keep track of who’s participating)

Develop and launch a campaign which allows your community members to become active in participation whether it’s a photo sharing contest or some kind of video remix. What you’ll do, in this step, is essentially create a “barrier” which further aids in identifying those that are most active within your community and those that are eligible as being labeled a brand ambassador.

For example: Individuals that make remix videos based on ads show great promise because they’re engaged with the brand and took the extra step to participate.

Step 3: Create something exclusive (before you get in touch)

What you’ll want to do is build up something that really allows a potential brand ambassador to become part of the inner community and this is accomplished through exclusivity (think: VIP section). This “something” could be a future marketing campaign, sending out prototype products, early access to a program, and many other ideas that you have in mind. The point of the exercise is that you want something in place so new ambassadors have something to play with right from the get-go which generates immediate excitement about their new “exclusive” position within the community.

For example: If you were to operate forums than you could create a special area for mods and other active participants that add additional value to their activity.

Step 4: Reach out to those active members

With the VIP area in place it’s time to get in touch with those active members. A simple email will often do the trick but if you want to go the extra mile than get them on the phone, on Skype, or in a Google+ hangout – either way … make it personal. Let them know what you had in mind, what they gain, and if there are ways to make it a better experience. From there it’s a matter of catering their needs so they’re primed with the arsenal to promote your products and brand.

For example: Use the Web to find contact information for these active members and shoot them an email about how much you appreciate their participation and that you had a few ideas in mind in which you’d like them to join in on the fun.

Step 5: Let ‘em loose with a campaign

Jump back over to exclusive area and update these new brand ambassadors with a campaign you had in mind – or, better yet, let them change the game with their own suggestions and input. Once you’ve landed on what you want to do it’s a matter of giving them the tools for the job. They’ll jump onto their social networks and start doing their thing all-the-while you lend support much like a commanding officer of an army.

For example: You could provide ambassadors with video, royalty-free audio, video editors, and other media so they have everything they need to have fun with the campaign in their own way.

Step 6: Give them rewards for their effort and participation

Each time a brand ambassador does something remarkable – reward them with something of equal or greater value. You can choose to send them a few bucks or a simple thank you; whatever you choose make it worth their while so they have an incentive to keep doing what they do.

For example: Give them one of your premium products or go the extra mile and lend some aid in their projects (if they need).

Step 7: Repeat

And … repeat this over and over again until you have an army of brand ambassadors.

A final word about brand ambassadors

These individuals should be, in some form or another, treated like royalty; that’s not to say that other members of your community aren’t VIP but you have to appreciate when an individual takes time out of their day to help you grow your business because they’re passionate about what you have to offer.

Treat the opportunity with extreme care and delicacy. Sometimes you may need to bend over backward for these individuals but it’ll be worth it once your authority, reach, and profits start climbing due to their participation.