In this age of social media, you of course have probably have heard of brand ambassadors and influencers. Perhaps, images of top influencers making sometimes, unfathomable amounts of money for what seems to be relatively little work come to mind. Whatever knowledge you already have in regards to social media influencer marketing, you may be probably wondering how brand ambassadors could benefit you business, potentially serve your company, and how you can use brand ambassadors effectively to drive results for your company.
We will be getting into the nitty-gritty of what a brand ambassador is and their role, the differences between brand ambassadors and influencers, and how you can use brand ambassadors effectively to serve your business and elevate your company’s performance.
But, let’s first think about social media influencer marketing (By the way, we have another article on that topic you should check out to further inform your understanding of the social media universe.) from the perspective of a customer. Say a customer makes a lot of purchases from websites like Etsy, Amazon, etc. and posts content of their purchases on their social channels whenever they receive a product they love and then tags the brand. The brand notices these tags and then decides to feature that customer’s content on their social channels, such as in an Instagram story, for example. Of course, the customer will be excited about being promoted or mentioned on the brand’s social channels, right?
Ok, now imagine that this customer continues to do this for some time, so often in fact that at some point the brand decides to take this customer relationship to the next level (no, not like that!). They decide to make this customer a brand ambassador. See, this customer was already acting in a role of that of a brand ambassador from the get-go.
This company may then decide to reach out to the customer with a proposal that sounds a little like:
“Hey, we notice you purchase a lot of products from us. Thanks so much for your support and appreciation of our brand. How would you like to be a brand ambassador for us? We can offer you 50% off your next purchase, and 30% off every purchase moving forward. We will give you a discount code for your followers to use, and everytime a follower of yours makes a purchase using that discount code, you will receive a ____ % cut…”
The company can then leverage this customer’s social network to cultivate wider brand awareness to continue to grow their brand and drive customer conversions.
And so, can you!
Ok, so now you’re probably thinking, but isn’t that what an influencer essentially does?
Let’s first take a closer look at what a brand ambassador is.
What is a Brand Ambassador?
Just like from our example earlier, a brand ambassador is a real person, a real customer who simply loves your brand and your products. They may be very active in purchasing products from your brand, and passionately show that they enjoy using your products and services.
Here’s the thing. Brand ambassadors don’t necessarily have to be a celebrity or have a massive social network of followers. They should be very good at sharing their love for your products through word-of-mouth or through sharing content on their social channels. Also, as an active customer of your brand, they usually have developed a level of expertise in your brand and your industry category, and can therefore, serve as an authority to represent your brand and company to their audience and your audience.
For instance, a makeup artist may be a brand ambassador for a cosmetic company such as Urban Decay, or a fitness instructor may be a brand ambassador for a protein bar brand. Each of these people has developed an expertise in a brand’s products and/ or products within that category of business or industry and can successfully represent that brand to share their knowledge and passion for that brand’s products or services.
Ok, so now you may be wondering what the difference between a brand ambassador and an influencer is.
What are the Differences Between A Brand Ambassador and An Influencer?
Brand ambassadors and influencers at first glance, seem to be very similar to each other. Their main differences come down to the relationship you as a brand would have with one of them, how your working relationship would begin with a brand ambassador vs an influencer and how long each would be working with or serving your company.
A brand ambassador of your company is probably already a very active customer of your brand and you can therefore count on them to continue being an active customer of your brand’s products or services. As their customer relationship with your company continues, they will also likely continue to share their love for your brand. While, you may at some point may decide to incentivize them to further promote your brand and services, remember that is not how the relationship with you started — it started organically, as they were a real customer of yours.
An influencer on the other hand, is someone who is incentivized to use and promote your brand’s products and services from the get-go. Rather than using word-of-mouth to talk about a brand, an influencer would demonstrate their passion for a brand through showing how they use a product, perhaps giving a tutorial on how the product should be used and explaining how it benefits their life or lifestyle. Therefore, while a brand ambassador may or may not be paid by a company to share about a company’s products or services, an influencer is always incentivized to do so.
At the end of the day, whether the person representing your brand is a brand ambassador or an influencer, all their audience and your audience would see is a person who appears to be genuinely passionate about the brand. A brand must work with an influencer to figure out how that influencer can create content that appears to be organic to ensure that their followers will appreciate and trust their content and ultimately, the brand they are promoting. For a brand ambassador, however who again is already an authentic customer of your brand, their audience will likely, avidly trust their opinions through the content they share or by their conversations through word-of-mouth.
While a brand ambassador would likely have a long-term relationship with your company as an actual customer of yours, an influencer would probably have a shorter-term relationship with you through a contract in which they agreed to promote your brand for a designated period of time for a fee.
Isn’t An Influencer Supposed to Have Millions of Followers?
Not necessarily. Influencers are broken down into three levels or categories: celebrities, macro-influencers and micro-influencers and each have their own pros and cons. At the top of the pedestal, celebrities usually have millions of followers, so they therefore have the widest reach and will obviously charge the highest fee to work as an influencer for your company, but will likely have the lowest engagement with their audience. A macro-influencer has a following count over 100,000 with a moderate fee and moderate level of engagement with their audience as well. A micro-influencer, in contrast, who has a much smaller following with only thousands or tens of thousands of followers, will charge the lowest fee, but have the most active engagement within their smaller audience. Therefore, you would need to determine which type of influencer would work best for your company and marketing needs.
When an influencer has a big following, they are likely receiving a very substantial fee for promoting a brand’s products or service, but remember — not because they are necessarily already using the brand’s products or services. An influencer gives off the impression that they actively use a product or service, but in actuality are being paid to use and show that they use a brand’s product or service.
A very successful influencer program would therefore, have to be very discreet to create the impression that an influencer is actually a customer of the brand and prevent the influencer’s content from appearing to look like obviously paid ads. For instance, an example of content influencers may be paid to create for a brand would be a video showcasing their top 5 favorite items with the brand’s product being featured as number 3. Yes, that subtle. This way, the influencer’s discussion and passion for the brand will appear as more authentic and organic, and as if they actively use the product.
How Can You Use a Brand Ambassador to Serve Your Brand or Company?
The idea behind using a brand ambassador effectively for your company is to take advantage of their immediate and authentic passion and active engagement with your brand. Keep a lookout for people engaging with your brand’s products and services on their social networks. Repost their pictures or stories. Reach out to them and ask them to join a brand ambassador program with your company. Figure out what a financial relationship will look like with the brand ambassador and determine what benefits and/ or discounts you can give to them in exchange for the promotion. Using brand ambassadors is a fantastic way for you to deepen your engagement with your following and grow your own company’s following by leveraging a brand ambassador’s social network.
What Kinds of Content Can a Brand Ambassador Create For Your Company?
There are many ways your brand ambassador can share content showing their love for your brand across their own social channels. For example, they can post pictures using your brand’s products or services on their feed, or they can create even more engaging content such as videos. It would be easier and quicker for a brand ambassador to create images featuring your products or services rather than a video, but in a video they would be able to share a lot more valuable information to their audience. Videos would also potentially receive higher engagement and shares across a brand ambassador’s audience as well. Videos can be shared on any platform, from emerging networks such as TikTok or popular mainstays like YouTube, or other platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat stories. Videos may perhaps feature the brand ambassadors talking about their favorite products they use from your brand, why they will continue to choose your brand and recommendations they have for potential customers.
Beyond incentivizing a brand ambassador to further promote your brand, you can of course guide and offer your own ideas to help enhance their content promoting your products or services, as well as offer encouragement and appreciation for their authentic love of your brand.
Thinking about taking the plunge into using brand ambassadors and social media influencer marketing for your company? In need of some guidance on how to use a brand ambassador to elevate your company’s performance and growth?
Reach out to us. We can help you fine tune how you use social media in your digital marketing strategy with brand ambassadors, social media influencers, and more.