Key to the success of your ambassador program will be keeping your team motivated, incentivized, and well-managed.
We always talk about the importance of keeping your ambassadors incentivized when it comes to their use of our platform - it helps them stay engaged with their role and motivated to do the best work possible, and therefore continue to add real value to your institution.
In this article, we’ll cover:
How to incentivize your ambassadors
Incentivization is really important for the long-term success of your ambassador program. Once the initial buzz of building a profile, creating some content, and having a few conversations has died down, you need to work hard to keep your ambassadors engaged and motivated, so they continue to do an excellent job for you.
But, if you can’t afford to pay your ambassadors, don't worry; in 2020, we ran a survey with some of our customers’ ambassadors and found that being paid for their work was far from the biggest motivation for them to apply for the role.
Actually, the most popular reason given for becoming an Ambassador was simply to help prospective students make the best decision about their future - 87% of our Ambassadors chose this.
Next, chosen by 59% of our ambassadors, was wanting to help spread the word about their institution, while 48% said it was to help them build skills and experience for their CV/resume.
This says a lot about the type of person that puts themselves forward to be an ambassador; they want to help their peers and they want to champion your institution. Those are two really powerful traits for you to harness when working with your ambassadors.
Digging into our qualitative results, we also found some other insights on the benefits of being an ambassador; ambassadors generally feel like they are more knowledgeable about their institution, as well as building their own communications and leadership skills. Again, these are all tangible benefits you can use to help promote your own ambassador programs.
But, the key thing here is to not simply assume your ambassadors are just in it for the money, particularly when you communicate with them. Make sure you don’t lose the intrinsic motivators if you layer on other distractions like payment; you want the payment to be a thank you rather than the major reason ambassadors do their job!
A large number of our customers use the career points and leaderboard to run their own monthly ambassador of the month contest, similar to what we do across all of our customers globally.
At the end of each month, the top three ambassadors on an institution’s leaderboard could be rewarded with vouchers. This will help encourage your team of ambassadors to keep creating content, answering FAQs, and having chats - as well as building some healthy competition between themselves.
Not only that, with the leaderboard being visible to everyone in the ambassador app, the monthly competition is transparent. Ambassadors can also track their position at any time and take action to help them climb the rankings, if they want to.
Another way to keep your ambassadors engaged is easy to overlook but can be incredibly effective - giving your ambassadors regular reminders of the difference they are making .
The majority of our customers do a fantastic job of exactly this. They regularly email their ambassadors with updates on the impact their work is having, for example, pulling out how many prospective students they helped over the last month.
It’s a really simple idea, but shouldn’t be overlooked. Share your positive results with your ambassadors and make them feel good about the work they’re doing for you! To help you do this, TAP automatically sends you a monthly report showing you what impact your ambassadors are making, which you can share with them. On top of that, we also celebrate the impact of all our ambassadors in our monthly ambassador update email.
If you're still after a few more ideas, here are some other ways we've seen our customers keep their ambassadors engaged and incentivized:
Use the content groups feature as an internal messaging tool, and encourage ambassadors and admins to use it to chat with each other, stay connected, and share ideas.
Involve your ambassadors in your content planning - organize a monthly call where they can help you brainstorm ideas and build campaigns.
If you see positive messages from prospects, why not screenshot them - make them anonymous - and share them with your ambassadors to underline what great work they're doing?
For some real examples of how some of our customers are incentivizing their ambassadors, check out this article.
Tips for ongoing ambassador management
Thinking more generally about the ongoing management of your ambassadors, there are a few things you should consider.
First of all - don’t forget that these people are part of your team, so make sure they feel like it! Regular meetings, whether it’s every couple of months, or each semester, can make a big difference. They can also help with your ambassadors’ development as they can have the opportunity to share ideas and input into institutional campaigns, which is a great thing for your ambassadors to add to their CVs and resumes.
Ideally, these meetings would be in person, so you can only put faces to names but also encourage some team bonding over free pizza for example. These meetings should give the ambassadors feedback, present them with the impact they’ve had over the last semester, plans for the upcoming semester including content plans, and then act as an opportunity for ambassadors to ask questions, give feedback or share their own ideas.
Beyond that, be sure to set up an internal communications channel that isn’t just back and forth emails. On our platform, you can use a content group to ensure everything is in the same place and it’s super easy for ambassadors as it’s all on their phone.
In our guide to recruiting ambassadors and building your program, we covered the importance of giving content a prominent position in the role of an ambassador - right from the application stage - and it’s important to keep a focus on content when you check-in with your team.
This goes beyond simply talking about content ideas; get into a cadence of setting content assignments e.g. weekly or bi-weekly content groups around different themes. Make sure the content requests are clear, but allow enough room/flexibility for the ambassadors to embrace their own content style (e.g. if some aren’t comfortable being in front of the camera, they don’t need to be - they can always film/capture other things).
Lastly, building an ambassador program for education institutions can really help you understand your prospective students - your ambassadors make an ideal focus group!
Get your ambassadors together, think back to when they were applying to your institution, and get them to share some insights with you.
What kind of information were they looking for at various stages of their recruitment journey?
What kind of content did they like? What was missing?
Where did they go to do their research?
You don’t even need to try and do all of this in one go or with one focus group session; the point here is that you have access to these ambassadors and can get into a rhythm of working more collaboratively with them for market research purposes, as well as ensuring they do an amazing job of representing your institution and showcasing the experience of being part of your community. And, once more, being involved in this kind of research is great for your ambassadors’ development and is something else they can include on their CVs and resumes.