Automated Ambassador Programs – Good or Bad?
by Andrew Krebs-Smith | March 12
When it comes to social media marketing, automation is something that is generally frowned upon. But we recently learned about an automated brand ambassador solution that doesn’t sound all bad. SocialToaster allows brands to recruit their biggest fans to easily register online as brand ambassadors. Users can then directly link their social media accounts to the program upon signing up, and then brands can automatically post updates to these users’ networks to promote a contest, discount, a new blog post etc. (There is also an option for ambassadors to opt out of the automated posting, thereby allowing users to review the content first before allowing it to be published to their network). Then, because each ambassador’s update includes a unique, trackable URL, SocialToaster reports on the users who have generated the most clicks, registrations, or purchases.
There are definitely some interesting and unique features about SocialToaster that could make the program a good fit for certain brands. For one, it’s reasonably priced compared to the cost of a custom-designed ambassador program, which many small businesses may not be able to afford. It’s also easy to install, and not incredibly time-consuming to manage, which a company with fewer resources may require. Lastly, SocialToaster is (very smartly) aware of The Federal Trade Commission’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which stresses the importance of disclosing relationships between advertisers and endorsers. Therefore any updates posted to an ambassadors network via SocialToaster will automatically include messaging that indicates the user as such.
Despite the many well-thought out features that SocialToaster provides, there are a few things about the service that do not align with the principles of creating an effective brand ambassador program. Whereas a custom ambassador program allows for sifting out your best ambassadors based on how much they love your brand, how vocal they are online, and how influential they are online, SocialToaster allows anyone with an internet connection to essentially become a representative of your brand. Furthermore, ambassadors are not allowed to tweak messages created by a brand, which could help the update seem more authentic and more aligned to the specific ambassador’s audience.
All in all, SocialToaster could be a good fit for a small or new business with little resources looking to expand their reach. And as social media leader Jason Falls pointed out, the platform could also be of use to bloggers and other online content creators, too. Like any effective word of mouth marketing initiative, the success of an online ambassador program depends less on the specific tools and tactics utilized, and more about how each step is implemented.
Would you consider using an automated brand ambassador program like SocialToaster? Why or why not?