How a new generation of BA programs is turning everyday fans into brand evangelists
We all know that brand ambassadors can have a powerful influence, both in person and online, on how a brand and its products or services are perceived. And as consumers increasingly favor genuine interactions with everyday people, rather than out-of-touch influencers, the role of the BA is evolving and expanding. With that evolution comes a fresh slate of brand ambassador programs that companies are tapping into to galvanize their live and digital audiences. Here’s a look.
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For online phone case brand Casely, the most effective platform has been Brandbassador, a digital program that connects the brand to its biggest fans (read: not influencers) and rewards them for interacting with Casely across its social channels. The appeal of the platform is its ability to help brands scale their businesses and audiences by automating communications with brand ambassadors. And it seems to be working—since implementing the program in the summer of 2019, Casely’s Brandbassador reps have generated more than $2.9 million in online sales (and counting).
Shortly before launching the brand, Casely’s founders discovered that a large portion of consumers weren’t loyal when it came to shopping for phone case brands. In hopes of flipping the script, they began to manually communicate with consumers, in-bounding nearly 500 emails and social posts per day from fans who were interested in working with the brand. Soon, Casely was manually managing communications with more than 10,000 brand enthusiasts.
“We had a whole bunch of spreadsheets and it was pretty chaotic, trying to keep up with all that data and be able to still offer something that brings value to these customers,” says Mark Stallings, co-founder and ceo at Casely.
The Brandbassador program consistently helps Casely find its biggest everyday fans, rather than inaccessible influencers, and rewards them for interacting with the brand across its social channels. Since implementing the program, Casely has grown its BA audience to 35,000-plus brand evangelists.
So how does Brandbassador work? Fans download the app and sign up for Casely’s program. The brand uses some light criteria to accept or deny the applicants, then separates them into various tiers based on how digitally engaged they are with the brand. Casely also takes into consideration which of its products the person has purchased in the last six months and which social platform they use most.
Through the platform, Casely sends members of its segmented BA lists on digital “missions,” which range from creating a TikTok video with a Casely accessory, to helping pick the brand’s next charity of the month, to creating a phone case “style book” on Instagram featuring photos of outfits that match each case, all the way to making sales using Brandbassador discount codes.
“It’s definitely a platform that you can’t just plug in and think it’s going to work on its own,” says Stallings. “I would recommend having at least one employee whose main role is focusing on building a community that is not just like, ‘Hey, you can get free products or you can make commission if you bring us sales.’ You want to build a community of customers that truly get behind your brand and stand for what your messaging is. Because if they truly don’t love what you’re doing and get behind you, the numbers will not be there.”
MORE PLATFORMS WORTH EXPLORING
Like Brandbassador, Zyper is a digital platform that allows brands to leverage their most loyal customers as a new “marketing force.” The platform uses technologies including computer vision, natural language processing and predictive analytics to identify the top one percent of a brand’s biggest supporters. Those superfans create original, on-brand content and share it with their own communities to drive affinity, marketing insights and sales. Since its founding in 2017, Zyper has worked with beauty, apparel, footwear, and f&b brands, including Nike, L’Oréal and Kellogg’s.
The CrewFire platform rewards fans and customers for sharing content on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. After fans sign up to participate, the brand develops content it wants shared out, then sends texts and emails to the BAs inviting them to share the post(s). The brand ambassadors are rewarded for sharing the content (or sharing the brand’s preferred hashtags) by earning points, which can be exchanged for rewards like gift cards and apparel. In addition, brands can identify and motivate more passive community members and learn about their behaviors via a Telegram Polls feature. P&G, Insomniac and Walker and Company are among brands that have utilized the platform.