Regular readers of What’s Up, USANA? (or followers of USANA on our social media sites) know that in late August the company held its annual International Convention. It’s an important and exciting four days filled with plenty of opportunities to share on social.
I’ve written before about how I believe the true power of social media is most evident at live events. It engages attendees and non-attendees alike.
I’ve also shared that our core group of Social Media Ambassadors is vital to helping us achieve our primary goal — building brand awareness.
But we as a social media team have additional goals, two of which include: Fostering brand loyalty and striving to surprise and delight.
Our experimental Social Media Ambassador Lounge — an exclusive area reserved for our peer-nominated Ambassadors — aimed to help us deliver on those promises. And in talking with Ambassadors during and following the event, I believe it did.
But as with anything experimental, there are always lessons to be learned and things that could have been done differently — no matter how successful it ends up being.
Strong social media advocates are invaluable for business owners. I recommend getting to know your most loyal fans and followers (who are also your patrons) and thinking of ways to reward them from time to time.
Here are five lessons learned from our first-ever Social Media Ambassador Lounge. Special thanks to the entire #USANA16 social media team for making it such a memorable event.
1. Work to Build Buzz
Admittedly, I was hesitant to publicize our Lounge (outside of the invited Ambassadors, of course). It was our first crack at something like this and I honestly didn’t know if it would be a rousing success or a dud, so I erred on the side of keeping it a lower profile event to minimize potential fallout. We didn’t create much signage or do a lot of advertising.
On one hand, it added to the “exclusive club” feel for the Ambassadors. But looking back, I wish I had done more to generate curiosity and interest among International Convention attendees (as members of my team had suggested).
Next year you can bet our Social Media Ambassador Lounge will be a centerpiece of our International Convention promotional efforts — and ideally the masses will be clamoring to get in and asking how they too can become Ambassadors.
2. Create an Agenda — But Be Flexible
We divided our Lounge into two sessions — a more formal educational, information-driven session in the morning and then a let-loose, party-time session in the afternoon.
We advertised the agenda in advance to our Ambassadors but we adjusted on the fly (rearranging components in the morning, extending a happy hour in the afternoon, etc.).
Get a feel for how your audience is interacting and reacting and, if necessary, throw your agenda out the window and let the event unfold organically.
3. Include a “Wow!” Element
This was a no-brainer. We knew we wanted to reward our Ambassadors with something outside-the-box special. And for our business, that often means spilling the beans on a big announcement.
So that’s what we did. We gave our Ambassadors a sneak peek at the big announcement that everyone else had to wait until the following morning to hear (as a bonus, we brought in a popular USANA scientist to break the news).
Our goal here was twofold. First, we obviously wanted to give back to our Ambassadors for everything they do to help us during the year. And second (a little more selfishly), we wanted to make sure our Ambassadors had a heads-up as to what the announcement would entail so they could have a head start on sharing to social. I believe both facets were accomplished beautifully.
4. Express Gratitude
This is so important. We wouldn’t be where we are without our loyal and dedicated Social Media Ambassadors. Our International Convention is the one time each year where we can sincerely thank this group in person. Take time to interact with and listen to your guests.
5. Have Fun!
Events are supposed to be fun. Plan ahead so you can spend the event itself relaxing and enjoying the company of your guests.
We have honored Social Media Ambassadors for the past four years, and each year we try to do a little something extra to thank them for helping us spread the word on social. We took a giant leap forward in 2016 with the Social Media Ambassador Lounge … and I can’t wait to see where we take it in 2017!
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