IKEA challenged us to increase their perception as a ‘Loved Brand’, enhance their credibility and create brand advocacy through a team of carefully selected brand ambassadors.
IKEA’s main objective was to connect with new audiences – our challenge was to approach advocacy marketing in a radically different way. We moved away from the influencers who were ‘popular’ online, in terms of number of followers, and towards those that were most ‘influential’. The IKEA brand was already inspiring spontaneous and non-sponsored conversation, our aim was to get the brand more involved with those conversations and boost their visibility online.
Loyal customers and employees were capable of generating a more credible impact, even if they had less followers. Successful brand advocacy campaigns are often more profitable and more valuable than paid advertising campaigns, due to the ability of advocacy to generate more conversation and greater consideration of a product or service.
To make this project possible, we had to come up with a formula to ensure that our ambassadors were authentically inspired by the brand, and held values that mirrored IKEAs. That’s how the IKEA Gen was born.
To identify members of the IKEA Gen, we measured their brand knowledge, their connection to the brand and, most importantly, their ability to contribute to IKEA culture. Basically, we wanted our ambassadors to do things the ‘IKEA Way’; doing things together, leading by example, caring for others and the planet, and being cost-conscious – among other things. In addition, members of the IKEA Gen had to be credible and honest. Internal ambassadors also needed the ability and desire to share their knowledge and expertise with other IKEA employees.
We created the IKEA Ambassador Club, made up of two types of members:
- IKEA fans: customers who already belonged to the IKEA family. They had to be digitally savvy, aligned with brand values and, crucially, a fan of the IKEA brand. They needed to have above-average potential for impact (based on micro-influence) on the communities they existed within.
- IKEA workers: employees with high levels of expertise and credibility. For generating interest in the programme and adding value, IKEA workers were rewarded with unique experiences.
But how could we effectively capitalise on this added value and keep our ambassadors engaged? Brand Advocacy strategies are usually fairly different to Influencer marketing strategies (with influencer marketing, there tends to be some sort of financial compensation offer) – and so developing a long-term value proposition at the beginning, before we had approached a single influencer, was essential.
The recruitment process
- We developed an initial diffusion strategy & began identifying ‘IKEA lovers’
- We created a form to help us identify the influencers with the most potential based on their level of digital maturity, their capacity for impact and their alignment with IKEA values.
- After narrowing down our influencers, we took a look at their audiences through the use of social network analysis tools.
- In order to recruit IKEA employees, we identified those with the most potential through the employee database – taking into account their level of digital maturity.
As a result, we identified 125 unique candidates – both internal and external. Now, our aim is to keep building our IKEA gen family. At the same time, we have an optimisation plan in place that will help us to keep motivating our ambassadors as our relationship grows stronger.
The long-term value proposition
We developed a central hub, a community or ambassadors to help us facilitate our follow-up strategy. To strengthen our relationship with our ambassadors, we:
- Created a digital platform for IKEA ambassadors.
- Developed and launched a daily engagement strategy.
- Developed an exclusive brand content strategy.
- Developed an experience based incentive programme (training, trips, events, challenges, special products, meetings with experts, etc.).
- Implemented a collaboration strategy which allowed us to co-create with our ambassadors – giving them the opportunity to make decisions that had a real impact on the IKEA brand and its marketing strategy.
- Created an outreach strategy through official social platforms in order to increase visibility.
What value did we bring to IKEA?
In addition to increasing brand visibility and helping IKEA to impact more audiences, we introduced IKEA to the concept of co-creation. Our ambassador hub acts as an idea incubator, and the programme is one that can be continued to be scaled up.
Today, IKEA ambassadors also contribute throughout the commercial calendar with marketing and communication campaigns – they have become one of the most important brand channels. This new way of collaborating with ambassadors has led to the creation of an authentic brand manifesto. IKEA has changed the rules of influencer marketing; building a value proposition based on prescription marketing, engaging content and authentic communication.
In just 12 months, we have:
- Demonstrated IKEA’s commitment to building relationships with influencers without monetary incentives – proving that this approach is sustainable. The campaign resulted in a 5% increase in sales and an 11% increase in store visits.
- Generated more than 63 million impressions through ambassador content.
- Observed a 12% increase in the engagement with the IKEA Family newsletter after members of the Family were incorporated into the IKEA ambassadors programme
- Strengthened relationships between IKEA, IKEA ambassadors and members of IKEA Family.
- Finally, IKEA ambassadors have produced more than 9,000 pieces of content.
We placed our trust in the effectiveness of building real, authentic human relationships. If you want to know more about the IKEA Ambassadors, you can visit the programme’s official website here: https://www.embajadoresikea.com/embajadoresikea/