IKEA is ubiquitous. Who doesn’t have a set of shelves, a mirror or at least a cushion bought from the Swedish giant? However, the brand wanted to take this presence to the next level and increase its perception as a ‘Loved Brand’ in a market where competitors are constantly emerging. So it challenged us to build a credible and effective brand advocacy, and we accepted the challenge without hesitation.
IKEA’s main objective was to enhance its credibility and 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.
We were also interested in the fact that the protagonists of these conversations had the capacity to reach audiences that were new to the brand. Some users (such as IKEA’s employees and most loyal customers), although they have less potential impact because they have a smaller following on social networks, could generate a more credible impact (advocacy value). The initial hypothesis told us that, due to their expertise within the organisation and/or their real and honest experience with the brand, they would generate perceptions of trust that were more valuable, higher quality and more profitable than any paid advertising.
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 Gene was born.
This concept allowed us to find those candidates who should be the main prescribers in the project. To identify them, we measured their knowledge, motivation, attachment, and most importantly, their ability to contribute to the IKEA culture. This meant doing things ‘The IKEA Way’, their internal mantra, which implies: doing things together, leading by example, caring for others and the planet, and being aware of the cost of things, amongst other attitudes. In addition, it was important that those selected were credible, honest people, and in the case of the internal ambassadors, co-workers, who had the ability and motivation to pass on their expertise and knowledge of IKEA in an altruistic way to others.
We created the IKEA Ambassador Club, composed 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 co-workers: employees with high levels of expertise and credibility. In return for generating interest in the programme and adding value, IKEA co-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 there is a limited time-frame in which you can keep your ambassadors active and interested enough in what you have to offer. Therefore, developing a long-term value proposition at the beginning, before we had approached a single influencer, was essential.
How was the recruitment plan activated?
We developed an initial diffusion strategy and began identifying ‘IKEA lovers’ in the CRM of the company. We then created a formula 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.
In the second phase, we measured the nature and origin of their social audiences (applying social node analysis tools for pre-selected candidates). In addition, in order to recruit IKEA employees, we also detected opportunities within the co-worker database, taking into account their degree of digital activation. In this way, the necessary internal champions could be found.
At present, we have access to 121 unique candidates (including internal and external profiles), and in future stages our intention is to expand this number (always finitely), ensuring, as before, that each type of ambassador is represented proportionally. At the same time, we defined an optimisation and constant renewal plan based on the motivation they presented at each stage of the project.
What was our value proposition to the IKEA Ambassadors?
As we have said, a lasting value proposition is essential to keep our brand ambassadors motivated and willing to continue working with us in the long term. To this end, a meeting place for the ambassadors was created and developed, as well as an ever-active follow-up strategy with different phases.
We developed a central hub, a community of 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.
“IKEA has changed the rules of influencer marketing”.
What value did we bring to IKEA?
This mutually beneficial relationship has brought numerous benefits to IKEA. In addition to increasing its prescription capacity, dissemination and impact on new audiences, it has created an asset that was previously non-existent in the organisation: a launcher of ideas, co-creation and activation R&D for the entire brand value proposal, which can (and should) continue to grow in the future.
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 this sense, Good Rebels has demonstrated that IKEA’s commitment (as described in the IKEA ambassadors’ manifesto) to building relationships with influencers without offering a monetary incentive is sustainable, with figures such as a 5% increase in sales and an 11% increase in store visits from IKEA ambassadors. Our ambassadors alone have created more than 9,000 pieces of content, generating more than 63 million impressions.
And all this in just 12 months. At Good Rebels, we place 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/