Our next member spotlight: Ambassador Programs

(Sarah Hawk) #1

I’m going to approach the Member Spotlight a bit differently this time around. In the past I’ve sprung them on you and it hasn’t been conducive to good follow on discussion. I wonder if some notice might give you time to think about questions or ways that you can utilise the expert knowledge to your own advantage.

Next up in the spotlight is Rebecca Braglio and she’s going to be talking Ambassador Programs.

If this is something that you’ve been thinking about or could do with some advice on, post your questions and I’ll put them to Rebecca when I interview her next month.

(If you’re new and don’t know what I mean when I refer to the Member Spotlight, here is Bas’s interview about analytics and Irreverence’s interview about behaviour change.)

If there is a topic that you’d like to learn more about, let me know that too and I’ll source an appropriate expert to put under the spotlight in coming months.

(Tiffany Soles) #2

LOVE this topic! It is something that we’re trying to start. I am definitely interested in identifying and recruiting Ambassadors (especially if a reward system is in place for them) and then how to effectively utilize these Ambassadors, once they have been identified?

Thank you!!!

(Sarah Hawk) #3

Fantastic! I’ll grill Rebecca accordingly! :wink:

@Kristinaking did you make much progress with your program?

(Kristina King) #4

Late to the convo.

No, I did not make any progress. We have too many competing interests right now between departments, as well as a userbase that I’m not entirely sure needs something like this. However, I think I will at least designate some “champions” (I really need to find a better term for that) so other users know these particular users can be trusted without me chiming in to validate :wink:

(MHCommMgr) #5

I would also be interested in this. We already have an ambassadors program with a yearly reward, but deciding who receives the awards is time-consuming, cumbersome, and subjective (though probably fair). I’d love to refine/streamline it and suggestions would be great. Also, we have a lot of people who sign up as ambassadors after we reach out to them, but for various reasons (usually health challenges or an end to the particular condition they were dealing with, which is a great thing), they are not always active participants in the community, even though they are supposed to be. It’s hard to reprimand them or judge them for this, when we are a health-related site and they all go through health challenges, but it means we keep a lot of ambassadors who can’t be effective due to loyalty (as in, they once were effective but now cannot be). I’d love to find a new way to approach this and how they are rewarded.

(Suzi Nelson) #6

I have questions about this! I’m an Ambassador Program newb, so I’m going to be annoying and ask really basic questions like…

How do you (Rebecca!) define an ambassador program?
How do you determine who would be a good fit as an ambassador? Do you look at hard numbers or do you just have a gut feeling?
How do you determine ROI (both for the company and the community)?
What are the strategies of an awesome Ambassador program (incentives, gamification, etc?)

That’s all I can think of for now. :smiley: Thanks for posting this!

(Sarah Hawk) #7

I know that @rebeccabraglio has been flat out with a new job so I’ve been giving her a bit of space to get settled, but there is so much interest here that I’ll nudge her again.

I’ll keep you posted.

(Rebecca Braglio) #8

Wow some amazing questions already here - as @HAWK said just started new job so please bear with me! I’ve also managed to cause a tendonitis flare-up on my dominant hand, which is making typing pretty awful. So working on it in increments.

(Rebecca Braglio) #9

I’m now with a health-related community/ies as well – Health-Union has really found a successful way to manage “ambassadors” (they don’t have a formal program, they are considered “patient advocates” though) who deal with the condition the site is about (migraines for migraine.com as an example).

(Priscilla McClay) #10

I have a question for Rebecca: How do you know when the time is right to start an ambassador programme?

My community is just over a year old and I think this could be a great project. In my previous job, I used to find new ambassadors/volunteers by looking for members that were already modelling the right sort of behaviour and inviting them to apply. But in my current community, I’m not sure whether I have any obvious candidates yet.

Although activity levels are growing, perhaps I need to work on retention and building a sense of community before candidates for an ambassador programme will begin to emerge. But, equally, having an ambassador programme could help to improve retention and sense of community, so it’s a bit of a Catch 22!

Should I consider putting out a general call to members for volunteers and just see who puts themselves forward? Or wait a bit longer and work on other ways of building retention first?

(Rebecca Braglio) #11

FANTASTIC question. In fact, I had recommended against creating one for the last company I was with because I felt it was too early.

I think it depends on the age of your community, why you are creating the program and what you hope to gain from it:

  • If it’s just to help increase posts or drum up some brand awareness, then earlier would be better. I think a year’s worth of data is reasonable. I’ve found that activity in communities changes season to season (and can vary amongst different communities) - and you’d want to see those patterns. At least a year’s worth of data also gives you an idea of who is committed.

  • If it’s to meet company goals/drive profit, I think you need more than a year of data to look at. You also need to compare it to the company’s data/analytics to see how they relate.

Based on your post, I don’t think a launching formal ambassador program is your answer here. I think that before you can get someone to volunteer you have to have established a solid reason for them to return. I’d shift my focus to creating regular programming, events, and other retention methods.

Once you start being able to identify potential ambassadors and begin developing relationships with them (and between them) that will help give them reasons to continue investing their activity. If you have a handful selected, you can use them to help you develop the program based on their feedback.

But whatever you decide, I think it’s more important to focus on starting SMALL and INFORMALLY to see how it develops on its own. If you don’t have any obvious candidates, don’t launch one. If you have some gut feelings of potential ambassadors, start developing relationships with them and BETWEEN them NOW.

Hope this helps!

(Priscilla McClay) #12

Hi Rebecca,

Thanks for the detailed response, that’s really helpful. It’s good to have some reassurance that a volunteer programme is not something that should be rushed into.

We’re a charity, so the aim is definitely not to drive profit. I would see the aims as being about increasing the amount of activity, making sure everyone gets a reply and feels supported, and modeling the behaviour and culture we’d like to encourage on the community - probably similar to the patient advocates you’ve mentioned above. I have also thought about working with them to come up with a content plan of new conversations they could start, which would be more engaging coming from them than from me.

Fortunately we do see lots of very supportive behaviour on the site already, but relatively few members who’ve been regular posters for a long time. The community covers end of life care and bereavement, so I think the most likely candidates would be people who were a bit longer past their own loss but wanted to give something back to others. It will necessarily take time for us to have members who are at that point.

Yes, informally I am building relationships with active members and working to build relationships between them by getting in touch with people to recommend relevant conversations.