Last week, we discussed how your event or association’s fans can be an incredibly effective marketing tool. Today we’ll share MGH’s social media marketing manager Ryan Goff‘s tips for identifying who those super fans are, how to vet them, set expectations, and manage and measure the success of their work. These tips are based on a speech Goff gave at the 2012 Social Media Tourism Symposium. The next symposium is Nov. 6-8 in Huntsville, Ala.

Getting started

Step 1. Develop a questionnaire for potential ambassadors that goes beyond yes/no answers. You’re looking for expert sources who have more than surface knowledge of your company, association or event, so don’t be afraid to cover more than the basics. Phrase questions so they provoke a range of responses.

Man-Megaphone-3Step 2. Put the questionnaire online and make it easy for people to find. Share it on social networks, on your website, through newsletters and emails — wherever your fans interact with you.

Step 3. Interview your top candidates by phone. Use what you learn there, and through the questionnaire, to build profiles so your staff can compare potential ambassadors side-by-side. Treat them like potential hires and really vet them.

Step 4. Define expectations and incentives. Write a contract so both parties understand the requirements and the potential rewards. Create a checklist of tasks you expect ambassadors to perform day-to-day, week-to-week or month-to-month. Regularly assess the work they do.

Step 5. Select a small group (10-20 people) and treat them like valued employees. Invest time in training them. Bring them on-site to an event, association headquarters or company. Share your short-term goals and big ideas for the future. Give them a behind-the-scenes tour. Educate them about deeper initiatives and core values. Answer any and all of their questions. Help them bond with each other. Think of them as an extension of your team.

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 2.22.14 PMStep 6. Empower them to not only be brand advocates, but evangelists. Never tell them what to say. If they’re true ambassadors, they’ll figure it out. If a mistake is made, don’t correct it for them. Point out the error and let them make it right. If something negative is posted, you may have to step in immediately to mediate and diffuse the situation offline. If you can’t trust the ambassadors you have, you need new ambassadors.

Step 7. Make them part of your marketing campaigns. Feature them in newsletters, online stories and social media posts. Let them to be your public face by making them central to advertising campaigns and offering them to the press for interviews.

Step 8. Be transparent. Create a disclosure statement on your website that ambassadors can link to so people understand the relationship they have with you when they post on other sites or interact with people on yours.

Step 9. Measure engagement. Track activity. Stay in touch. Reward and spotlight high performers. Talk with ambassadors who aren’t living up to your expectations to uncover underlying issues. Don’t be afraid to fire chronic under-performers, thank them for their service and explain why you need to terminate the relationship.

Track their effectiveness 

Here are five things you can measure to see whether your program is working.

  1. Twitter bird announceActivity. How many posts, comments, questions, pictures or other stories are your ambassadors generating? How often are they active on your site or social networks?  Stay alert for dips in activity or sharp spikes.
  2. Engagement. How are people interacting with them online or on social media? Are they having conversations? Or are they failing to comment on what’s being shared? Are they retweeting, liking or sharing ambassador-created content on other sites?
  3. Web traffic. Are you seeing an increase in the number of new or returning visitors to your site? Are you showing up more often in search engines? Both metrics are good signs that ambassador-created content is increasing search engine optimization of your site. Sign up for a free Google Analytics account if you don’t have one so you can track this on a monthly basis.
  4. Audience size. If your ambassadors are engaging your audience and creating good content, you’ll see your fan base on social networks increase proportionally. 
  5. Time spent on site. Are people spending more time? What pages are most popular? This is another metric you can track with Google Analytics.

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Brand ambassadors can transform how people think and feel about your event or organization. Have you ever been so frustrated by something that you tweeted about it? Did anyone online answer that complaint? How did that make you feel? Share your thoughts in our comment section below.