Make sure you have the necessary resources before you launch. Resource requirements will depend on the nature and scale of the program, but here are some considerations.
Almost every organization that we spoke to named sufficient human resources as a key success factor.
In large programs that means a full time staff member who is responsible for the planning and management of the program. In smaller programs a community manager with time allocated to the day-to-day running is sufficient. If you are starting small and don’t have a budget for extra staff, be realistic about blocking out some calendar time for existing staff to commit to the program.
A good benchmark is 15-20% of your existing community resource, with a dedicated staff member required when your program reaches 50+ members.
In organisations with global communities where member responsibilities are locale based, a globally dispersed team of community managers may be necessary to ensure that each area is managed by someone with appropriate knowledge and the ability to build relationships with members.
Bigger organizations should consider creating a cross-functional team to secure early buy-in and build strong relationships with all key stakeholders.
Other areas to consider are:
Marketing (landing pages, promotional messaging, emailing member segments)
Design (branding, swag)
Technical (platform tweaks)
Reporting (pulling and presenting data)
Legal (expertise and review)
Training and Support
Training and support requirements will depend on the nature of the program, who your members are and what they are tasked with doing.
PRODUCT TRAINING WORKSHOPS
If your members will be acting as the first line of support for your product it is important that they have the necessary knowledge required to do so with confidence.
TRAINING GUIDES AND MANUALS
Make sure members have quick and easy access to necessary technical documentation, product guides, manuals etc
ONLINE OR OFFLINE SEMINARS
Bringing together members to upskill, retrain, or share knowledge is a powerful way of bonding the group and building brand appreciation with the added bonus of keeping your members up to date with latest knowledge and best practices.
Formal certification is a great way of ensuring you keep control of the quality of information being passed to customers. It can also be used as a motivational incentive if it is perceived as something to aspire to.
If your members are considered an extension of your brand it makes sense to equip them with the skills necessary to handle crisis situations. Companies like Polpeo offer training of this nature by simulating a brand crisis on social media. An escalation plan for negative sentiment and crisis situations is an important resource to have in place before launching a member program.
Major changes to product offerings, platform or the business will require training for superusers so that they can stay on message and help to manage expectations from the broader community.
To run a successful program you need tools for resource management, reporting and communication with and between members.
For small programs this is a simple set-up consisting of a private area within the existing community infrastructure, spreadsheets for managing member requirements and simple dashboarding and reporting tools.
As the program grows you will need to introduce more powerful CRM and communication tools.
For Ambassador programs that aren’t platform based you should consider a custom product which will afford you the ability to centralize communication with your members, give you somewhere to store documentation, allow you to track activity and pull data for reporting.
A member directory with rich profiles to keep track of motivations and skillsets
Application/registration forms and member approval processes
Communication channels (forum like groups, SMS messaging, email campaigns)
Event management, shared calendars and time-zone support
Knowledge bases or document repositories
Referral management and affiliate link tracking
Gamification and incentive management
Budget for Incentives
While it’s not an absolutely must-have, a budget for incentives is preferable. The best programs work on intrinsic motivation but a budget for small gifts, swag or discounted products or services is useful. Members need to feel valued above the rest of the community.
In larger programs the incentive budget will be significant, especially in those cases where sponsored travel, events and/or certification are included.
People are a key success factor. Aim for 15-20% of your community resource.
Having reporting, marketing, design and technical support is beneficial.
As your program grows, consider a dedicated ambassador management platform.
Make sure you have enough budget to cover any necessary training requirements.