4 clever brand ambassador programs that go beyond SponCon

Sponsored content - or SponCon - was the ingenious alternative of modern marketing to traditional advertisements. SponCon mimics native content to look organic so it doesn't disrupt the user experience or the natural flow of a platform.

Diverse people thinking planning marketing brand concept

But social media is so saturated with inauthentic and repetitive SponCons posted by influencers that only about one in five users trusts it, while most find it annoying. However, a survey by SUMO Heavy found that social media still influences the purchase decisions of 58% of their respondents. Instead of using influencers and SponCon, harness the power of social media by creating an ambassador program.

A brand ambassador program is a social marketing tactic that encourages existing customers and supporters of your brand to become advocates, both online and offline. Unlike influencer marketing, you don't pay someone to promote your brand based on their number of followers - you ask real consumers to tell people about you.

Brand Ambassadors help you increase your social media presence and brand awareness, manage your reputation and increase sales as people trust recommendations from friends, family, and other consumers more than influencers' SponCon. Use these four proven Ambassador programs as inspiration for your own impactful iteration.

    1. Xbox has built a loyal community of ambassadors

    Xbox created its Ambassador program to build a loyal community of gamers who can follow Xbox updates, interact with each other, and have fun together.

    xbox ambassador
    [Source] The Xbox Ambassador Program improves the gaming experience by adding a social aspect.

    The program

    Xbox did two things differently when it came to its Ambassador program - it built a unique experience and set a unique goal for itself.

    The Xbox Ambassador program is like a game. To become a “Gamer” (Ambassador), Xbox users must be at least 17 years old, have no prior enforcement action against their accounts, and have a 1,500 gamerscore. This final qualifier ensures that Ambassadors are existing Xbox users and fans.

    Xbox has gamified the program with a system of experience points (XP), levels, missions, and rewards. Ambassadors do social chores like adding friends or building positive game forums to earn XP and level up. Every time Xbox releases an update, it also gives its ambassadors "missions" related to those updates. Ambassadors who complete these “missions” will earn more XP faster. The more XP an Ambassador earns, the more rewards they will receive - Xbox merchandise, free games, and more.

    The goal of Xbox with its Ambassador program is not to generate more revenue or increase brand awareness, as is the case with most Ambassador program goals. Your goal is to build an engaged community. And Xbox does this by asking their ambassadors to go through the program and complete missions together.

    The result

    Xbox now has an entire community of devoted supporters who connect and play together. With Ambassadors keeping each other informed and willing to help, Xbox has saved time and money in support staff and hours. The ambassadors have also provided a steady stream of social media content to Xbox to help build their brand reputation.

    Why it works

    xbox tweet
    [Source 1, Source 2] Xbox ambassadors share their programming experiences on social media.

    A major driving force behind the Xbox Ambassador program is the 1,500 gamerscore criterion for reviewing new ambassadors. Xbox has made sure from the start that its ambassadors really love the brand, enjoy games, and want to see what the company has to offer.

    They never stopped working on the Ambassador program either. Xbox is still creating new missions, sweepstakes, challenges, and other content that keep Ambassadors coming back and inviting new people.

    Xbox has built a community of real people who build real connections and trust one another.

    2. The ambassadors of Lululemon became local representatives

    Lululemon has created a pool of ambassadors who love the brand and represent the brand's goals and ideals to increase sales and loyalty in local markets.
    Lululemon ambassador
    [Source] Lululemon's ambassador program focuses on real content and relationships.

    The program

    Lululemon's ambassador program is global but local - Lululemon's target market is global, but they use grassroots marketing to get their target market's attention. The sports and track and field company works with local sports professionals to really shape the communities they belong to. Wherever they had a store, they had at least one ambassador.

    Ambassadors are either handpicked by the brand or apply to represent the brand through their local stores. A Lululemon Ambassador works with the company to increase its brand awareness and reputation by delivering free in-store yoga classes, posting about Lululemon on social media, wearing Lululemon items, and organizing events in partnership with Lululemon.
    In return for all of this hard work, Lululemon enables its ambassadors to run local social impact initiatives and display photos of their ambassadors in its stores to aid the ambassadors' business. Ambassadors also receive free and discounted Lululemon items, free or discounted fitness classes, discounts for family and friends, business coaching and personal development classes, and social media advertising.

    The result

    Lululemon's ambassadors are a consistent source of real user-generated content (UGC). The company now has a loyal following who love their products and free courses.

    Lululemon knows its target market and uses hyper-specific and hyper-local (large-scale) marketing to tap into this niche. It works with local fitness trainers, yoga trainers, fitness trainers, and other sports professionals to influence the places where they started a business.

    What really makes its ambassador program the success it is today is that it really invests in every ambassador and each ambassador's local community, which is evidenced by the incentives they offer. Having Lululemon genuinely show the care, interest, and support to its ambassadors and addressing local industry leaders has helped Lululemon achieve its current level of brand awareness and loyalty.

    3. Airbnb ambassadors worked as recruiters and onboards

    Airbnb launched its Ambassador Program - which is different from its referral program - to encourage existing hosts to recruit, review, and train new hosts by offering them a cash incentive.
    airbnb ambassadors
    [Source] As part of the Airbnb ambassador program, existing hosts were asked to become recruiters and trainers for cash.

    The program

    The Airbnb ambassador program is simple in its requirements and rewards. The program is only available to existing hosts who hire at least two new hosts each month. In return for the recruitment and support of these new hosts, the ambassadors receive a cash payment.

    Ambassadors could recruit new hosts both online and offline. After successfully adding a new host to the platform, the ambassador would have to look after his new recruit by providing training videos, making himself available for questions and personally guiding recruits through the admission process. It was a lot of work, which is why Airbnb also sees its ambassadors as contractors, as evidenced by the old ambassador position.

    The result

    By asking existing hosts - who are experts at hosting their properties on Airbnb - to train new hosts, Airbnb used word of mouth and saved time and money on recruiting and training costs. The company also increased brand awareness on social media as ambassadors typically wrote "Airbnb ambassadors" on their social media profiles, business cards, and other visible platforms.

    Why it works

    Airbnb ambassadors run training videos
    [Source] Airbnb ambassadors run training videos and webinars for new hosts.

    Airbnb treated its ambassadors like employees and gave them everything they needed for their “jobs”. They gave Ambassadors access to print services and digital tools so that Ambassadors can easily create training webinars for new hosts and order business cards and flyers.

    They also ran training courses, meetups and webinars - both online and offline - for the personal development of their ambassadors.

    4. General Electric's ambassadors have redefined the company's reputation

    General Electric (GE) wanted to improve its brand reputation by helping employees optimize their online profiles to attract more applicants. So they set up an employee ambassador program.
    General Electric's ambassadors

    The program

    Of the four ambassador programs on this list, GE is the only one that is solely focused on building brand reputation. It is also the only company on the list that uses its own employees as ambassadors.

    GE chose to set up an employee ambassador program to show potential new employees that GE is a great place to work. The problem was that the brand's online presence was next to nonexistent, as was its budget. So the GE team has looked at the resources it has: more than 350,000 employees worldwide. GE built its reputation by making sure its employee ambassadors knew how to share their stories and experiences online.

    Employee ambassadors receive training on basic storytelling, finding the “why,” and social reinforcement. At the end of the training, ambassadors are expected to know how to optimize their LinkedIn profiles, connect with thought leaders, expand their networks, and share GE history. GE also continuously encourages feedback from its ambassadors so that the company can continually update training content and improve the program experience.

    The result

    GE spent very little money on its ambassador program, but now has more than 13,000 ambassadors who continue to attract and connect with new candidates. The most notable results of the Ambassador program are that it has increased incoming applications by at least 800%, improved applicant quality, and saved GE approximately $ 3 million in social advertising.

    Why it works

    generalelectric's post instagram
    [Source] The GE ambassadors also shared their stories by taking over GE's top social media accounts.

    This ambassador program works because the GE team has used its opportunities to make a big impact. GE continues to invest in its employee ambassadors, helping them build their online presence, tell their stories, and share those stories with the world. In turn, the stories their ambassadors tell improve the company's reputation astronomically.

    Another key to GE's success is its focus on promoting feedback and tracking data. The company tested the program on a small group of employees and asked for feedback before scaling the program. GE only opened its Ambassador program to the rest of its employees after making sure it would be mutually beneficial based on the initial rounds of feedback.

    Build brand loyalty with ambassador programs

    Ambassadors are real people who love your brand. They are people who stand up for your brand even without incentives because they believe in what you do and what you have to offer. Creating an ambassador program will increase the voices of these advocates and help you gain more loyal followers compared to SponCon. It will also help you give back to your most loyal followers and show your appreciation.

    Create, manage and track your ambassador program with Extole's innovative brand ambassador software. Book a demo day to see exactly how we can help you.