Brand ambassadors are former and current customers who are happy with the brand to the extent that they will go beyond being passively pleased to being actively vocal about their feelings.

A brand ambassador is a person who says to their friend, “I just bought a new Buick. Best car ever made. Drives like a dream!” It’s the kid who will only wear Nike shoes to the local basketball court. It’s the foodie who says, “Oh, you’re going to Cincinnati? You’ve got to try Skyline Chili!” They give the company lots of lovepoints, and they distribute the love to their friends and colleagues.

Brand ambassadors build awareness and trust among your customers, followers, and prospects. The wonderful thing about them is that once they’ve paid you to buy your product or service, it takes only a small investment to ensure their loyalty and support. Look at it this way: You can spend millions of dollars on marketing and advertising and build awareness. You can also spend very little on making your customers deliriously happy and get results that are equally good or even better. In our experience, focused efforts to cultivate brand ambassadors can result in dramatic increases in sales—even doubling or more.

Word of Mouth Is the Most Powerful Advertising

One reason why word of mouth is so effective is that every day, consumers are bombarded with commercial marketing messages and information. Who could possibly pay attention to all of it? They’ve learned to cut through the noise and ignore what they deem irrelevant—including your company’s ads.

But choices need to be made, and consumers need reliable information about products and services. There’s no better place to get that information than from their peers. According to Nielsen, only a third of consumers say they trust traditional ads. The preferred source of product information? Ninety-two percent are more inclined to believe people who are in their circles than direct messaging from a brand. In second place comes online consumer reviews, with 70 percent of global consumers surveyed online indicating they trust messages on this platform.

It makes sense. If you want information about the quality and performance of a product, it’s more logical to ask an objective user of the product rather than depending on the paid messaging from the brand itself. A brand ambassador is perceived as a more trustworthy source for recommendations than traditional advertising. They have smaller audiences (like micro-influencers or advocates) and are seen as genuine members of a community or friends who wouldn’t recommend something they didn’t love.

Your Employees Are Brand Ambassadors

Your employees can also be brand ambassadors, spreading lovepoints among their peers. Employees who are proud to work for your company will spread the word about your organization’s core company values, its employee value proposition (EVP), and their own employee experience. As Influencer Marketing Hub revealed, employees are active on social media, and they talk about their work experience: 81 percent of young adults share information about their company. And Entrepreneur reported that social media content shared by employees gets eight times more engagement than content shared through the brand’s own social channels and is shared 25 times more frequently. Leads through employee social networks convert seven times more often than any other leads.

The responsibility begins with the organization’s leadership. You need to make clear to your employees the meaning of their work. Before you recruit your social media team to formulate an engagement plan, take steps to ensure your employees understand and embrace the mission, vision, and goals of the brand. Communicating your company’s “whys” to your team is essential to getting them on board and helps cultivate the necessary transparency to make  future content shareable and realistic.