The Power of the Right Brand Ambassador/Influencer
A brand ambassador is a powerful part of any marketing campaign. Many successful brands have used brand ambassadors and influencers, both of whom can advocate for your brand and positively influence those around them. But marketing power comes with responsibility. It pays to know why you need a brand ambassador, who is on your side, and how to go about planning your campaign. Properly leveraging social media platforms can help boost your marketing efforts as well.
What Is an Influencer?
Influencers are extremely vocal about a topic or brand, and typically use social media as a vehicle to express their opinions. They seem to have an innate ability to influence those around them. Such individuals may be micro-influencers, or everyday people who happen to be food, travel, fashion, and other types of bloggers. They may have around 1,000, 20,000, or 50,000 followers but are effective at engaging their audience and creating buzz about a brand.
Content creators, on the other hand, may have 100,000 followers or more, and perform a similar function on a larger scale. These may be bloggers and YouTubers who have gained notoriety. Other effective influencers are industry experts and, as many brands have gravitated to channels online and off, celebrities.
Influencers often focus on their own topics of interest and work to their own standards. Whether they work directly with your firm or not, they still have the power to sway their audience’s opinion about your brand, whether it’s positive or negative.
What Is a Brand Ambassador?
An ambassador to your brand is someone you hire and maintain a long-term relationship with. They advocate for your brand based on the deep knowledge you instill in them. As the face of your business, a brand ambassador comes across as an expert on your brand, product, and services, but can also be a spokesperson, influencer, or celebrity who’s under contract with you.
Brand ambassadors are instantly recognizable. Their duty is to cooperate with your organization step by step, on your schedule. The public can instantly connect them with your brand. But diehard fans, whose names may not be publicly known, can also be strong influencers. Plus, their engagement typically comes at a lower cost; oftentimes freebies or premium customer service is all they need in return.
This arrangement can turn regular customers (albeit vocal ones) into loyal followers. No matter who you choose as a brand ambassador, choosing the right person and maintaining a relationship with them is central to achieving and sustaining long-term results.
How They Differ
Choosing an influencer from your audience can have great benefits, although these are often short-term. They’re often easy to reach out to, but unlike a brand ambassador, it can be difficult to get an influencer to say exactly what you want them to. Nonetheless, there are ways to improve your chances of favorable results. These include:
- Picking someone from within your audience
- Setting realistic objectives that match their power of influence
- Being fully transparent about your brand
- Going beyond potential to analyze their conversion rates and engagement
An influencer can become a brand ambassador. That means you essentially hire them to represent your brand, offer positive vibes, and increase awareness and, ultimately sales. In many cases, they can achieve similar campaign marketing results as a brand ambassador.
Why Do I Need a Brand Ambassador?
Simply put, to promote your brand and build your image. In today’s digital-driven marketing ecosystem, brand promotion and image building involve the same basic challenges as when TV advertising was the primary medium. Consumers simply trust the recommendations of their peers over those paid to promote a product or service.
While watching television, viewers often change the channel when there’s a commercial break. But marketers have found more opportunities on the Internet. Your audience can interact with your brand via websites and social media. Comments, likes, shares, and re-tweets can and do bring substantial value to brands.
When a brand ambassador expresses satisfaction, others will believe their testimonials as sincere and legitimate opinions. A brand ambassador offers credible insights. Their objectivity is crucial whether people know they work for you or not. The first thing consumers often see on Google or social media is the sentiment of their peers. Credibility can help make them try new products and build your image.
Brand Ambassadors and Instagram
The power of Instagram cannot be ignored. A study conducted by Dana Rebecca Designs found 72% of customers decided on fashion, beauty, or style-related purchases based on what they saw on Instagram. Even though this study focused exclusively on Instagram, it didn’t undermine the importance of Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, which influenced 23%, 22%, and 3% of shoppers, respectively.
People of all age groups are using Instagram. Millennials being the most represented group, 89% of them are active on Instagram, while 82% of Gen Xers and 65% of baby boomers are. Of each user group, 74% of millennials, 63% of Gen Xers, and 54% of baby boomers make purchasing decisions on the social media site.
Other studies of other social platforms found Instagram is popular among shoppers, which demonstrates where your brand ambassadors should be. It’s therefore not just for selfies and travel photos! Your biggest social media influencers can use Instagram to shape your brand and company by:
- Posting intriguing photos of your products in use.
- Making videos that demonstrate and explain the product/service.
- Building a following of users interested in your brand.
But don’t only rely on Instagram followers. A business profile can help you analyze your audience’s behavior and the performance of individual posts. Your profile can provide valuable information to customers. According to the Instagram Business website, 80% of accounts follow a business. So, with over 1 billion accounts active worldwide on a monthly basis, an Instagram presence can provide significant exposure.
Advertising with stories, photos, videos, carousel ads, and collection ads doesn’t hurt either.
Choosing the Right Brand Ambassador
A brand ambassador can be anybody—a customer, employee, celebrity, or social media guru. To find the right one, first define what you expect of them. Will they write content, submit product photos, provide testimonials, appear in ad campaigns, or be at your corporate events?
Many marketing teams prefer referrals. But you don’t necessarily need them. Active brand ambassadors can be found on the web in many capacities; they may be on Twitter or online forums, posting opinions first-hand or comments on others’ posts. Their own articles and blogs can provide the insights you need to enlist them.
A social media monitoring tool, such as Meltwater, takes the guesswork out of the equation. It enables you to discover major influencers and connect with them. Potential brand ambassadors are accessible, and approachable. They’ll take any opportunity to spread their influence.
When you find one, express your appreciation quickly. A swift reaction enables you to demonstrate this and communicate your awareness of what an audience is saying. Customer sentiment and loyalty can be improved when your audience knows your business relies on its feedback. Measuring engagement is an important step in employing this methodology.
To engage your brand ambassadors:
- Invite them to participate (send emails or post messages on your website and social media).
- Give vocal influencers freebies, such as office stationary, a coffee cup, or free access to your application.
- Offer a discount on your product or service to anyone who is vocal about your brand.
- Reach out to the faces of your company (whoever answers messages from your inbox or app, or even sales people who answer the phones).
Will a Brand Ambassador Help My Business?
Starting a campaign with a brand ambassador requires a few considerations. Your contact and reward must be relevant to your brand, but sometimes a simple and personal “thank you” in the comment field can get the ball rolling. Budget is another important consideration, but here are some insights on what you can expect to pay:
Know their expectations first. On the higher end, some brand ambassadors may demand a first-class flight and coverage for all travel expenses. But many are so in love with your brand they’ll accept free products and other perks. If it pays in the long run to give away free stuff, then go ahead. Just make sure to show you appreciate their participation.
Internally, it’s essential to outline everyone’s expectations, so draft a contract that states everything you and your brand ambassador expect from the relationship.
Thus, here is the next challenge—maintaining your relationship. Working with a brand ambassador requires relationship building. You don’t want to over-communicate, but it’s important to check in regularly with them. The work they’re expected to do must be clearly outlined. Make it clear what they should wear and say, and who to talk to, if attending an event, and know when that event is scheduled. For content generators, inform them on deadlines and continue reminding them.
Also, provide them with company news, photos, and videos to help motivate them and make them feel like they’re in the loop. Be dependable and consistent in your messaging and communications, and your brand ambassadors can be the face of your brand for the long term.