Thinking Social / Value

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Years of thinking social archives >

What Might A Social Media Planner Want From A Brand Ambassador

This post first appeared on Leo Ryan’s blog “Burning Head.” 

In the previous post I looked at what sorts of things a social planner might want to ask for when negotiating an event sponsorship. In this post I’ll explore what we might want to agree with a Brand Ambassador. Thanks to @Amymabin and @Vic_newlands for their significant input into to this.

As with the last post, this is not an exhaustive list of what can be done with an ambassador, but rather a check list of the kinds of permissions, rights and access that you might want to request when negotiating the partnership so that we can make the most of the relationship in social media.

Leaving aside all of the difficulties that sponsoring individuals can involve let’s just assume the ambassador is a great brand fit and is largely drugs free. Given this positive connection we’ll probably be trying to create social media occasions to amplify that and broadly this amplification will fall into categories of either paid social media, owned or earned media (although as I wrote this post those categories continued to undermine each other, merge and generally not be as helpful as I’d have liked).

Earned Social Media and what we might want from a brand ambassador
Often it is the case that a brand has developed a relationship with an ambassador not just for their image, but also for their own personal social media audience and reputation. If that’s the case we need to make sure that everyone; the brand, the ambassador, the brand’s followers and importantly the ambassador’s followers are all going to be comfortable with the association and see the benefits of it. Especially the followers.

If we are appointing an ambassador for the size of their audience we also need to be realistic about what that is. On twitter, not all followers are equal. In fact lots might just be porn-bots. There are some incredible audience figures out there; Lady Gaga has more than 33 million followers, Wayne Rooney more than five and a half million and David Cameron’s official Prime Minster’s handle has 2.2 million. Howeveran analysis of their top 100,000 followers by a UK company reveals that only a small percentage of their followers are ‘real’ people: Lady Gaga has only 29% “good” followers, Wayne Rooney 30% and David Cameron 37%. So you might want to do some authentication before paying an ambassador for their audience.

And while we’re on the subject of Wayne Rooney…this time last year Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshire both tweeted #makeitcount and a link to the Nike campaign website which resulted in their sponsor Nike being censured by the ASA and the footballers being required to delete the tweets. Subsequently the ASA posted this article with the advice that the footballers should have used the hostage #ad or #spon in their tweets.

So with those two caveats in place we might want an ambassador to tweet hashtags related to campaigns and links to campaign sites. Similarly we might want them to share brand assets with their audience in other media specific channels; images up on Picassa, videos on YouTube and so on. Assuming a good fit bewteen the brand’s target audience and the ambassador’s followers, this can be really useful; if these assets are going to be of real value or interest to the ambassador’s audience they may then then re-share them with their networks with all of the added value and credibility that come from a friend’s recommendation. But make sure they are of real value. No quicker way to turn off a social audience than to spam them with unwanted commercial messages, and your ambassador certainly won’t thank you for pissing off their hard earned followers.

To leverage the ambassador’s existing social profile on the brand’s properties you’ll want permission to link to all of their public social profiles, permission to tag them in posts and permission to share their posts when appropriate.

Owned / Paid Social Media and what we might want from a brand ambassador
Recent media options like promoted posts and promoted tweets have made the whole owned / paid distinction a little murky. We can post to our owned Facebook Page audience (which will reach approx 16% of them) and then pay to have that post promoted to reach a larger audience. Of our own existing facebook audience. Which feels a bit like owned media…Promoted tweets are similar except that we can pay for our tweets to go to a new audience who don’t currently follow us, which feels a lot more like paid media, except that it’s also going to our owned audience…sigh. Oh for the days of a 30 second TVC.

Regardless, as a brand we may want to include the ambassador in our owned and paid social media. This could include using their image or quotes in adverts on Facebook or YouTube, but it might also include some of the newer paid media formats; promoted posts posts and promoted tweets. Which begs the question of whose tweets and posts are being promoted; the brand’s or the ambassador’s? If it’s the Brand’s it’s a little more straight forward; clearly there’s a commercial relationship. But if the brand is paying to promote the tweets or posts of the ambassador, we need to be completely transparent and make sure that we clearly signal this as per the Nike example above.

Ambassadors can be a great source of interesting content for the growing demands of social channels content calendars. It seems obvious, but if you don’t ask, you’re not going to get; along with the usual media access you’ll want to ensure that there is sufficient time with ambassadors for photography & video creation for Facebook content. If you are going to use them as a content source you’ll also want access and rights permissions for any video or image library assets and access to events that ambassadors attend whereby video/image content can be captured. Another source of easy content is the Ambassador’s POV on different events and issues. To make use of this you will need to get permission to send through questions regularly (via agent or directly) for ambassadors to answer on specific topics planned for content calendars.

We could ask our ambassador’s to live blog or tweet from events for us. It’s going to be hard for them to provide blow by blow commentary on their own performance, but are there other events that they can provide a point of view on? In doing so, do they have the requisite content creation skills or do we need to have them agree to work with a content developer (cameraman, photographer, copywriter). If these are events that they usually compete in or appear at then the ambassadors can potentially really add additional insights for the social audience following them. For this to work however you may also ask that they undergo social media training. In the same way that those not used to the probing attentions of journalists will be given media training it’s a good idea to give social media newbies instruction and even a side-kick for their first few outings online until they get their confidence up, get a feel for what is actually interesting to their audience and are comfortable with online etiquette.

As with the stages of event sponsorship, we could ask our ambassador’s to provide either live or pre-developed content before during and after the event, depending on where we feel they can add the most value and depending on their availability; if they can’t appear on-site at an actual event then a post-mortem delivered from another location might be just as useful.

Once an ambassador is doing the thing they do (on stage, on court or track or at the book signing) they are likely to have the world’s media focused on them. So what access can the brand have that adds some value to the fans’ experience of the ultimate performance? Is there a way that the fans can be involved in the preparation; providing assistance, information or just encouragement? There are all kinds of platforms for crowd sourcing, is there an element of the ambassadors efforts that they can open up to a wider audience on one of these platforms? If there is a long preparation stage before each appearance: is there anything interesting that we can get from their training or rehearsals? Are they prepared to share their training or rehearsal tips?

It’s not an exhaustive list, but hopefully a useful start when negotiating contracts with Ambassador’s who we feel have something to offer in social.

Keen to see any other thoughts and examples in the comments below. I’d have dearly loved to have included links to great examples of all of these, but it’s late on Sunday night and the duvet is calling. Perhaps next week…