Tips for Building a Social Media Ambassador Program
As I talked about last week, social media influencers are a great way to expand the reach of your content and to reach new potential donors. One way to capitalize on this trend is to create a social media ambassador program, which makes it easy for your most loyal followers to connect with you and share your content—all at low cost to you.
The marketing team at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago recently developed an ambassador program that has already paid big dividends in brand awareness among new audiences while offering an engaging volunteer opportunity for their most passionate fans. Here are their suggestions to you to create a similar program.
Begin your social media ambassador program by reaching out organically to just a few influencers who you think might be a good fit for your brand. Ambassadors often fall into the nano influencer category, with fewer than 1,000 followers, but they're people of influence within their own networks. They are active on social media with engaged audiences and a genuine interest in your brand. Potential ambassadors include patient families, people who have volunteered with you, and board members who are really connected to your mission.
Wait to cast a wide net and set goals for your program until after you see what people are interested in and what types of influencers work for you.
Give Your Program Its Own Brand
Giving your social media ambassador program its own sense of identity makes the people who are part of it feel connected to each other and to the world. The marketing team at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago chose to position their program as a unique volunteer opportunity.
“Volunteering at a hospital is time consuming and challenging,” said Kary McIlwain, senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer. “This is an easy way for people to get involved and feel like they're giving back.”
To further support the image of the ambassador program as a volunteer opportunity, Kary and her team give ambassadors template language for resumes and their LinkedIn profiles, so they can talk about their involvement and the impact that they're making.
Make the Job Easy for Your Ambassadors
One critical component of a social media ambassador program is an online portal that serves as a hub for shareable posts and other content. Kary’s team chose to have their web developer build one from the ground up, but there are also a number of commercially available digital platforms.
Regardless of whether you choose to build or buy, there are a number of functionalities to look for to simplify the process of getting content to your ambassadors, and for them to get the content to their audiences, such as:
- Filtering content by social media platform, action (e.g., share a photo, take a survey), and topic
- Adding personal messages or captions to content before posting
- A profile page where users can track their activity, rewards, and incentives.
Show Your Gratitude
Appreciation is an essential part of any foundation’s activities, and an ambassador program is no exception.
“It’s so important to show gratitude for these people who are using their personal platforms to advance our goals,” said Karyn Rowe, manager of digital programs.
The team at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital recognizes its ambassadors by sending them digital swag, such as photo frames and filters, and by featuring ambassadors in their social media channels and on their website.
They also have a reward system in their ambassador portal that assigns points whenever an influencer takes an action. Each action is worth a certain number of points, which can be redeemed for things like phone chargers and pop sockets. Influencers can also earn badges, such as Twitter Star and Facebook Top Fan.
Once the pandemic resolves and in-person opportunities become possible again, they hope to offer more unique incentives like hospital tours, tickets to events, and exclusive networking opportunities.
Track Your Progress
To gauge the success of your ambassador program, it’s important to know which ambassadors are bringing you the most website traffic and leads. One way to accomplish this is by giving each ambassador a unique UTM code for their links.
In addition to having good tracking, you need a strong analytic strategy so you know what is working and what isn’t in the program. Tracking likes, shares, and mentions is a good start, but you should also aim to monitor the downstream effects of these engagement activities by tying them to web page referrals and conversions.
Social media changes quickly, and your program needs to change with it. By having the right metrics in place, you’ll be well poised to keep track of your progress and change course as the channel evolves.