In the age of Instagram, influencer marketing is everywhere: Influencers contributed over 1.5 million Instagram posts in 2017.
Brand ambassadors have become an important part of influencer marketing for driving authentic conversation and engagement.
As millennials — the generation with the largest buying power in the US — move away from traditional media and more toward social proofing, ambassadors have only become more important as an influential medium between brands themselves and their target audience.
“Brand ambassadors can act as the single voice or mind with an understanding that all of our ongoing conversations are working to engage with people who have a continuous engagement with our brand.”
-Austin Wisner, Senior Director, Integrated Media Strategy at Elite SEM
Why Brand Ambassadors For Social?
One way to boost your influencer marketing strategy is by creating a brand ambassador program.
Brand ambassadors are customers who love your brand and product so much, they’re willing to recommend them to the world.
Companies with brand ambassador programs can form a more authentic community around and connection with their products and brand.
How To Build A Brand Ambassador Program
A brand ambassador program refers to how a company chooses, works with, and compensates influencers for promoting their brand and products.
Before you start recruiting brand ambassadors, make sure to do the following:
1. Know Your Brand
Make sure that you have your value proposition, messaging, and branding nailed down.
If you don’t have a clear understanding of these, your ambassadors won’t either. Many brands launch influencer campaigns before their products go on sale, which can be a great pre-launch strategy.
That said, they know exactly who their target audience is and what — and who — they’ll be most responsive to.
2. Identify Your Metrics
What does success look like for your brand ambassador program?
This can be as straightforward as the number of sales. It can also be media mentions, online traffic, or brand awareness.
It really depends on what you plan to get out of your ambassador program and how it plays into your company’s overall marketing strategy.
Identifying this up front will help you set expectations with ambassadors and measure the program’s success.
3. Define Your Ideal Influencer
Where does your target audience spend their time online? Who do your ideal customers look to for advice? Which factors most impact their purchasing decisions?
This will look very different for a B2B SaaS company than for a digitally native fashion brand.
Do some research around who your target audience follows on social media, and why they trust them.
Working with ambassadors that shoppers already trust can build a stronger connection with your brand.
4. Plan Compensation
For some brand ambassador programs, the incentive for influencers is as simple as free products in exchange for a social media post or review.
However, as influencer marketing grows in popularity, the landscape is becoming more competitive: 44% of influencers say that they accept less than a quarter of the proposals they receive.
If you’re choosing to work with major influencers, be prepared to offer more than just product in exchange for promoting your brand to a huge (and loyal) following.
With the above in mind, you can launch a brand ambassador program that drives traffic and brand awareness, increases sales, and builds a stronger brand community.
Benefits Of Having Brand Ambassadors
One way in which brand ambassador programs take your social media strategy to the next level? User-generated content, or UGC. 63% of US shoppers trust UGC more than posts created by the brand itself.
Having brand ambassadors share visual content like product photos or unboxing videos shows potential customers how real people use your product.
Posts from customers are also liked and shared more often than brand content: UGC posts see 28% more engagement than standard brand posts.
That’s because consumers have become experts at tuning out brands.
“We as media consumers have grown so accustomed to seeing candid content while scrolling through social media. This makes branded content stick out like a sore thumb,” explains Joanna Alter, Co-marketing Manager at Yotpo.
“There is a stark difference in tone between staged ads and the surrounding posts, which means that those ads are easily ignored.”
Your brand ambassadors can double as event marketers. They’re already passionate about your brand — leverage that!
Bring brand ambassadors to trade shows, demos, and networking events.
Good brand ambassadors will champion your brand and connect with customers in a way that can feel much more genuine than your typical event marketing team.
Working with brand ambassadors can provide an ongoing feedback loop about your products and brand. Before you launch a new product or service, give brand ambassadors an exclusive first look in exchange for their honest opinions.
This can make sure that new products are ready to go to market without having to pay for pricey user testing.
Even when you’re not launching something new, make sure your ambassadors know that you’re always open to candid feedback.
Ask for feedback about both your products and services and the brand ambassador program itself often.
Since they’ll be more in touch with the broader customer community, they can also pass along what others are saying about your brand —and even what the competition is doing in comparison.
Brand Ambassador Takeaways
Influencer marketing is here to stay: 70% of millennial consumers value peer endorsement over celebrity endorsement.
If you want to connect with a customer community, you need to have members of that community in your circle.
By following the tips above, you’ll be able to create a successful brand ambassador program that builds brand loyalty and awareness — and helps your bottom line.