5 Tips to Boost Your Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sales

In 2018, more than 174 million Americans shopped from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday and spent an average of $335 per person during that five-day period. Thanksgiving Day brought in $3.7 billion in online sales, Black Friday brought in $6.2 billion and Cyber Monday topped out at $7.9 billion. 

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How can you make sure your brand is getting a piece of these whopping sales numbers? Black Friday is a great opportunity for marketers from every business to get out in front of the holiday buying season and maximize profit. 

From eCommerce to concert promoters — brands should engage their ambassador teams to help drive sales and create more organic impressions.

This is the chance to really create buzz around your products and get early bird sales rolling before the end of the year. 

Here are five ways to get the most out of the biggest shopping holidays of the year by utilizing ambassadors:

  1. Harness the power of word of mouth – Referrals work, plain and simple. Get your ambassadors engaged and ready to promote your upcoming deals and products out to their friends.
  2. Save money – Because organic referrals have the lowest cost of acquisition and the highest LTV of any other marketing spend, why not utilize referrals during this time when ad rates are at their highest?
  3. Think different – With brands like LuluLemon – they didn’t use famous athletes, they hired elite local yoga instructors to be ambassadors so the brand could take on a hyper-local neighborhood feel. You don’t have to break the bank to run an ad campaign this time of year, think about your audience, and find a way to reach them.
  4. Find your advocates – These are the “diamond in the rough” consumers. Every brand has them. They will talk about you wherever, whenever, however and to whomever, both online and offline. Utilize your advocates to drive organic content & create the strongest referral sales conversions. 
  5. Amplify your socials – When you have your ambassadors create or engage with content on Instagram or Facebook through SocialLadder, that’s money that stays in your pocket, not the pockets of a tech giant.

 

 

Sources:

Forbes – “Every Result You Need To Know From Black Friday, Cyber Monday And The Holiday 2018 Season So Far”

Washington Post – “Black Friday’s not dead yet: 70 percent of American adults shopped Thanksgiving weekend”

Are You a Victim of Influencer Fraud?

$1.3 billion. That’s how much influencer marketing fraud will cost brands in 2019. Influencer fraud can do more than just financial damage to your brand. It can also weaken your brand’s reputation and affect its credibility. Fake influencers seem to be legit at first glance, but their biggest identifier is that their followers are almost entirely fake accounts or bots. It’s important to identify some of the key warning signs that you might be experiencing fraud. 

Some warning signs of fraudulent activity are: 

  • Recently created accounts with tons of followers, but very little engagement
  • Unusual spikes in followers or engagement soon after a post 
  • Generic comments that have nothing to do with the post 

This is why more and more brands are shifting their focus away from influencers to ambassadors, who typically don’t have the same high follower count, but instead have a much more engaged audience. Brand ambassadors are real people who already love your brand and want to spread the word about your products or services to whoever will listen to them. 

Ambassadors are experts on your brand, and rather than searching for them through databases or hiring agencies to find them for you, they’re often living right in your backyard. Your employees, interns, partners, and existing customers are already engaging with your brand on a daily basis and they make great ambassadors. And you already know they are credible people who post authentic content about your brand. 

The numbers don’t lie — it’s time to make the shift away from focusing on follower count, and more on the things that actually drive results: organic content creation coming from real people your audience trusts.

5 Tips for Building a Campus Ambassador Program Without Losing the Human Touch

Looking to tap into the nearly $574B spending power that 21.4M college students have? With school back in session, college students are a great way to expand your brand’s footprint & discover a new crop of brand loyalists–the key to success is building a campus ambassador program.

Whether it’s flyering around the dorms, hosting events on campus, or driving social engagement, college ambassadors can help you increase brand awareness and sales with the target Gen Z audience.

 

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Check out some of our best tips & tricks for activating your brand on campuses.

1. Choose the Right People

Hiring students who are naturally motivated to talk about your brand to their friends is important. Your brand has an identity, so the people who represent it in the real world should share some of its qualities and the brand should seem like it authentically fits into the ambassador’s lifestyle. 

Lululemon, for example, when they built their ambassador team, they wanted the brand to feel like it had a hyperlocal feel, so instead of paying for traditional endorsements with celebrity athletes, the yoga-focused brand built an ambassador program of local influencers, elite athletes & top-notch yoga instructors who create a community, provide feedback on product and partner with the brand for social impact programs. 

By fostering more on a grassroots model the ambassadors feel connected to HQ and therefore take pride in their role. For example, if you have a women’s clothing brand you probably don’t want members of a men’s basketball team representing you on their campus.

2. Clearly Outline a Path for Success

If you don’t have a strategy with a quantitative plan in place — with clear expectations mapped out —  managing hundreds or even thousands of college students will immediately feel like herding cats. Don’t forget — their #1 priority is being in college — so don’t make it complicated for them to spread the word about your brand.

Once you have hired the right people, you should make sure you give them a clear checklist of what they will need to do and give them tips and tricks on how to be successful. By being transparent about the standards and the goals you have for the program your ambassadors will be more likely to stay engaged. Checklists and leaderboards will help you keep everyone on track. 

For example — if your ambassadors are expected to hang 50 door hangs, ask them to submit evidence and then automatically verify via photos and Google Maps that they completed the task.

Once you have your foundation tasks in place, give ambassadors easy ways to unlock more rewards / payment in exchange for creating increased value for your brand. For example — if your #1 goal is new subscribers, increase the compensation model for your ambassadors to get more emails/downloads/sales. 

3. Establish Expectations

Don’t forget that most college students have never been salespeople — in fact, most have probably never had a boss or even a job (other than maybe walking dogs or mowing lawns) — so you need to give them the tools and training they will need to be successful critical thinkers and problem solvers who can — most importantly — meet deadlines, without losing the human touch between you and the ambassador. 

Create an onboarding experience that clearly communicates your expectations so you can get them set up to succeed from the start.  For example, use calendar reminders for important deadlines or create forms for them to fill out that makes it easy for you to collect important information rather than going back and forth via email.

For teams really looking to scale, identify Team Leads and empower them to take ownership of managing the ambassadors on their teams and then compensate the top-performing Team Leads when they deliver great results. The key is to continuously reinforce the ambassadors and what they are contributing to the business so they feel that they have ownership in the process and help to validate that their relationship with you — the brand — is priceless.

4. Streamline Communication

“I don’t want to lose the relationship we have with our ambassadors, our program needs a human touch,” and we agree. But this doesn’t mean that your brand’s full-time employees need to be bogged down with every individual request that comes from an ambassador. Trust us, it’s a slippery slope and it actually means your ambassadors are confused if they keep reaching out with questions.

Use community-focused tools like group chat, message boards, and Team Leads to help keep your ambassadors engaged.

Put everything in one place — like a Google Drive — so they can easily find answers and get back to repping your brand in their voice. By giving them access to things like up to date logos/brand guidelines, knowledge banks / FAQs, articles, receipt folders, event recap forms, templates, and approved sales language, you are empowering your team to quickly discover the resources they need.

This will give ambassadors an easy path to get their questions answered quickly and your brand team time to focus on the overall strategy of the program. 

5. Empower the Team to be Creative

Now that you have your team selected, on-boarded and have clearly communicated expectations — unleash your team and challenge them to tell you what will work on their campus. For example for a Big 10 School, a tailgate for a homecoming football game might provide the perfect backdrop for your brand, but for a Northeast city school a St.Patrick’s Day event might create a bigger impact.

Create event forms for ambassadors to fill out. When approved, set a budget and set them loose. Just remember to make sure you give them the checklist of things you need in your event recap at the end like photos, surveys, etc.

Always remember, campus reps are there to give you feedback about your brand. Listen to them. They know what will work with their friends so trust them to meet your expectations. This way your brand’s persona will match what works on their campus vs trying to give your ambassadors a “one size fits all” list of tasks that work for your brand. Ultimately this will feel more authentic which will result in more conversions & organic impressions.

A college ambassador program can act as a powerful tool for all kinds of businesses– festivals, consumer apps, retail brands, political candidates, privatized campus housing, and more. And the best part is that there is mutual value because college students are hungry to learn and to improve their skills. By giving them a meaningful introduction to the world of business — and more importantly, teaching them the fundamentals of sales process & entrepreneurship– you can develop a network of lifelong brand advocates–and potential new employees after graduation.

SocialLadder: The Shiny New Asset That Your Sponsors Will Love!

Properties ranging from concerts and festivals to sporting events and local fairs are increasingly facing more scrutiny over sponsorship assets and offerings. They are under constant pressure to provide more value and a concrete measurement of ROI for that value. Rights holders need to take a proactive role in their partners’ success by moving beyond packages that simply provide signage and other standard inventory in favor of imaginative, impactful and measurable engagement assets.

Boots and Hearts, Canada’s largest country music festival did just that. They offered a top tier sponsor, Coleman, the opportunity to name a collection of challenges that were published to ambassadors. Coleman was tagged in all ambassador’s posts, and their affiliation with the festival was shared across all ambassadors’ social accounts. The Official Checklist Challenge (pictured) alone generated over 38,000 impressions for Coleman. Boots and Hearts used the SocialLadder platform to boost their sponsors’ visibility and impact in and around the festival, unlocking increased value and possibilities for strategic upselling of future festival sponsorship packages.

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The SocialLadder technology provides a range of features that properties can take advantage of, and offer as an added value to their sponsorship partners. By offering sponsors access to the power of a SocialLadder ambassador team clients are creating solutions that can drive their sponsors’ business objectives while weaving the sponsor into the fabric of a highly engaged and connected community.

Here are a few ways to leverage SocialLadder ambassador challenges:

  • Sponsored Challenge: Name a set of challenges for a top tier sponsor to increase their visibility and brand awareness amongst the ambassador community. 
  • Sponsor Check-In Challenge: Task ambassadors with attending a Sponsor’s store opening, retail location, or event.
  • Sponsor Survey: Circulate a sponsor’s market survey digitally to a new, engaged, online community. 
  • Share and Sign Up: Drive signups for a sponsor’s blog, mailing list, or newsletter.
  • Sponsor Tags: Don’t forget to instruct ambassadors to tag your title sponsor on their unique content challenges. Imagine being able to report to your sponsor that you generated hundreds of thousands of additional impressions on their behalf!

Add these features into proposals to secure interest from new prospects or into existing agreements to enrich relationships with existing partners. Including sponsor-specific content in your SocialLadder ambassador initiatives, whether online or in the field shows your increased efforts in finding new ways to drive ROI for your partners, and keep them coming back for more.

Why You Should Engage Your Ambassadors Year-Round

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you know the power that ambassadors can have in helping to promote your upcoming events. From ticket selling to field marketing to social media posts, your ambassadors are not only your biggest fans but also your biggest advocates. 

You spend time building this engaged community, so why let the momentum slow just because your event has ended? 

By engaging your ambassador community year round, you can not only continue to generate buzz about your brand, but you can gather valuable consumer feedback & insights to make your next event even better. 

Here are 3 ways ambassadors can improve your marketing efforts 365 days a year:

  1. Organic content creation 

Ever heard of #ThrowbackThursday? Chances are your ambassadors have taken tons of photos and videos during your event. Encourage them to share their own content throughout the year to show all their friends what a great time they had as they begin planning for the next.

2. Ambassador spotlights

Your ambassadors have put in the work and vouched for your event, why not show them some love? . Use the time in-between events to give props to your community. Showcase some of your top sellers and social stars to bring attention to the program make your ambassadors feel like they’re really a part of your brand. You can even check out some of our own spotlights here for some inspiration.

3. Get feedback

Looking to get some ideas for  next year’s lineup or new merch offerings? Look no further than your ambassadors! Push out post-event surveys and polls to get insight into what your fans actually want to see as you prepare for the next event. And then put those initiatives into action! 

 

Digital Marketing for Cannabis: A Roundabout to Regulations

According to the 2019 edition of the Marijuana Business Factbook, “retail sales of medical and recreational cannabis in the United States are on pace to eclipse $12 billion by the end of 2019 – an increase of roughly 35% over 2018 – and could rise as high as $30 billion by 2023.” With these staggering numbers in sight, the pressure remains for cannabis brands to aggressively reach their audiences via social media, by building a community through social platforms.

But with federal regulations in (both Canada and) the US restricting and monitoring the promotion of cannabis, strict social media advertising guidelines are supresive, and unlikely to change anytime soon. 

With cannabis brands being limited to a lifestyle and educational approach what is a cannabis brand to do to stand out to consumers?

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Rather than a traditional retail approach, cannabis brands need a strategy & the right tools to reach audiences organically, and communicate their branding messages to even larger audiences, more and more cannabis companies are building brand ambassador teams to help them educate budtenders and consumers. 

A brand ambassador program enables cannabis companies to: 

  • Amplify user-generated content creation & organic chatter
  • Manage on-site Dispensary representatives
  • Grow customer acquisition
  • Drive sales to specific eCommerce or brick and mortar locations 
  • Build a trusted relationship with ambassadors through a rewards program  

With a SocialLadder ambassador management program in play, Cannabis brands will be able to stay true to compliance while growing the brand and improving engagement with consumers through social media.

Turning Your Early Birds Into Your Top Advocates

5 Tips for Turning Your Buyers into Sellers

With all of the noise out there, consumers trust “marketing” less and less, so if you don’t know who your best customers are and then are turning them into your sales engine, you are missing out.

Let’s use the live event space to paint the picture. Buying an early bird ticket certainly has its advantages for music fans especially because it locks in the lowest price. For event promoters, it means they have fans who are committed to attending.

Being an “ambassador” might not feel like the right fit for everyone. But marketers who ease their audience into ambassador programs by building trust with their biggest advocates tend to have the most success.

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Here are the five keys to a successful early-bird campaign with SocialLadder:

1. DELIVER A GREAT PRODUCT 

This is the first thing, and the only thing to focus on. Without it, your customers won’t trust you and if there’s no trust, in the long run, there will be no product.

2. IDENTIFY YOUR ROCKSTARS 

Every great brand has a rockstar customer. The ones who adopt early and then spreads the word quickly. They are your “diamonds in the rough”. These are the people that trust your brand so much that they don’t even wait for the festival lineup to drop or for a celebrity to endorse it.  These are the Talkers and Planners … and they like to talk … A LOT. Marketers who can identify these people early will win big because they will help organizers expand their reach & drive awareness without cannibalizing sales.

3. BUILD A RELATIONSHIP

Understanding the needs and values of your buyers is important because it gives you the ability to create experiences for your fans. Fans who engage authentically and commit to ticket buying early will be a good temperature gauge for what to expect against your overall sales results. By getting up front real-time data you can inform other marketing efforts with the insights you gain through advanced reporting. Imagine the targeting you could do if you knew all of the brands or artists your fans were following?

4. ENHANCE WITH EXPERIENCES NOT CASH

Once in a lifetime fan-focused experiences will keep fans intrinsically motivated to spread the word about your lineup, onsite experiences & ticket price increases. Come up with rewards that will be a true motivator for your fans, but keep in mind that the greatest rewards can be something that shows the appreciation you truly have for your fans. Beyond Wonderland — for example — offered Insomniac fans a chance to hang backstage with their CEO Pasquale Rotella.

5. REWARD THE BIGGEST VOICES

So you’ve lined up fan-focused rewards and figured out who your Planners are, now it’s time to boost the organic chatter so you can pull back on your digital spend and get more REAL fans talking. Take the time to align your marketing calendar with your ambassadors and your word of mouth buzz will takeoff.  Imagine Festival, for example, generated over 3 thousand unique pieces of Instagram content, reaching nearly 4 million people. Imagine that!

Imagine That: It’s Not Just About Ticket Sales!

In 2018, Imagine Music Festival was met with a critical decision. Their first option was to continue to power their ambassador program with the same tool they had used historically, an option that was focused solely on ticket sales.

Or…  

Imagine had an opportunity to engage outside-the-box thinking and select a new program that would maximize ambassador team efforts through a highly-engaged network of music fans, social media integration, and advanced field marketing tools.

The choice might have been difficult, but the outcome was clear! On-boarding SocialLadder (and stepping away from the expected approach) proved wildly successful for their fans and paid off in a big way for Imagine. Not only did it give their ambassador manager the tools to track the team, it also gave the fans a fun way to stay engaged.

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What were the keys to Imagine’s success? Utilizing the “ImagineNation” street team alongside the SocialLadder network allowed SocialLadder to run in tandem with the festival’s competitive ambassador program.

Similarly, the vast SocialLadder toolkit was used in driving social media engagement, field marketing, and innovative rewards that resulted in the following intrinsic upside for fan ambassadors:

  1. Fans were brought together in a cohesive, active fan-focused community
  2. The program helped to widen fans’ reach and social circles
  3. Fans were rewarded with elevated experiences for their efforts

And for Imagine, the increased engagement resulted in a program that produced THREE TIMES the ticket sales revenue than the competitor’s campaign did.

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The biggest win for the promoters was that 80% of the ticket sold by ambassadors to their friends were NEW ticket sales by buyers who had never purchased a ticket before.

The results were staggering:

  1. 682 Ambassadors Completed 16,673 fan engagement challenges
  2. In 100 days, more than 22 Million native social impressions were generated
  3. SocialLadder ambassadors were responsible for nearly $800K in ticket revenue

Optimizing the ambassador experience was a key driver in the success of the SocialLadder Imagine Festival program. SocialLadder made it fun for fans to be ambassadors. By giving fans more than just selling tasks, they were able to be rewarded for being active and engaged in the community.

Top ambassadors unlocked once in a lifetime experiences that will ensure their return in 2019.

The biggest headliner you’ve never heard of

Think about your group of friends. There’s usually that one person who always seems to be coming up with something to do — picking the restaurant, finding a new destination, or suggesting the next festival to attend. This is the planner — the one who convinces you to do something you may have no idea how to do and makes sure you have the time of your life doing it. Planners are the most important person to any event organizer, and luckily there is a way for organizers to harness their power and reward them for all of their hard work.

Firefly Music Festival realized the power of these fans and wanted to find a way to make them feel like they were a part of the festival’s planning process as a whole. By harnessing the power of natural planners, Firefly was able to create a robust program of 1,600 fans who became their biggest advocates. Then, using gamification, Firefly challenged these fans to start doing what they do best — round up their fans and make the plans.

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In just 90 days, these superfans rounded up over 2,000 of their friends to attend the festival and generated 13 million+ impressions by creating content and sharing their tips for how to experience the festival better.

By creating a “home” for the planners, festival organizers were able to say “thank you” to these valuable fans by making them the headliners — hooking them up with elevated experiences that are generally reserved for the artists and sponsors like backstage passes & VIP camping upgrades.

So next time you’re stressing about finding the big name to bring people to your event, don’t forget about the real headliner: the planner.

Need help identifying them? Ask us!

BREAKING NEWS: Ambassador Programs Drive Results

STUDY SHOWS THAT MORE THAN 80% OF AMBASSADOR SALES ARE TO FIRST TIME BUYERS

MYTH: Ambassador programs cannibalize sales.

FACT: SocialLadder ambassadors sell 80%+ NEW sales for brand partners.

SocialLadder ran a study of two repeat festival partners — Lights All Night, an electronic festival in Dallas, and 515 Alive, a hip-hop festival in Des Moines. Two communities of different fans in different locations with the same results.

Of all sales made by SocialLadder ambassadors for these two festivals, an average of 83.5% were NEW sales, purchased by first-time buyers.

 

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A few tips for how your brand can find new buyers:

      1. Build a community of authentic ambassadors

Festivals are always a reunion with friends I consider family. They’ve changed my life and who I am. They’ve taught me the meaning of community!”  –Nikki Breslauer, April Ambassador of the Month

The fan journey is the most important part of the festival experience. When a fan opts into being an ambassador, you want them to feel like they are part of a community that they can relate to and feel special about. Ultimately, they are going to be helping your brand extend its reach to their friends, so make them feel like family. When ambassadors don’t feel like they are promoting alone, their overall experience is reported as being better.

      2. Convert Your Customers

The best ambassadors are people who have already purchased your product — especially early-bird or presale buyers. These are the folks who are already committed to attending your event or who have experienced your brand — which makes them your biggest fans and thus most likely to help you reach new fans (aka their friends & family).

SocialLadder is able to help brand marketers capitalize on this by automating emails to customers encouraging them to personally invite their friends to buy.

      3. Align marketing strategy with ambassador team tasks

63% of marketers interviewed in The Pulse Report: 2019 Industry Trends said that word-of-mouth was an effective strategy, and 49% said that social media — especially Facebook and Instagram — is an effective strategy to drive ticket sales. Aligning your marketing calendar with ambassador tasks is a great way to reduce your paid media spend and get ambassadors to help you spread the word — ultimately boosting your content to their personal following.

     4. Use rewards to motivate your ambassadors

What’s more hype than an exclusive afterparty or VIP tickets to your favorite festival? Using fan experiences like artist passes, free tickets and exclusive merchandise are great ways to boost fan engagement and to say “thank you” to ambassadors for their hard work. Make it easy for fans to promote your brand by providing them with sample social media posts, email messages, images, logos, event descriptions, event hashtags, and any other brand assets that will make it as easy as possible for them to spread the word, and in return earn points to unlock priceless experiences.

     5. Track results

In addition to making it easier for marketing directors to track ambassador activities, SocialLadder’s integration with e-commerce platforms like Shopify and Eventbrite enbles brand marketers to track the overall effectiveness of programs and view data to see which sales are new sales. Understanding what your customers enjoy and how they engage their friends is an important part of the marketer’s journey and an even more important factor in building a long-lasting relationship with your customers.