What Are Brand Ambassadors and How Can You Use Them?

Written for EO by Jessica Thiefels, social media coach and organic marketing consultant.

Consumers are tired of being marketed to, especially on social media. In fact, 74 percent of millennials and generation Z consumers don’t want to be targeted by ads in their newsfeed, according to Lithium. What’s more, 56 percent of these consumers are cutting back on social media as a result of advertising.

The answer? Brand ambassadors. Brand ambassadors are consumers who love your product or service, and share their love with your potential customers. They typically share their appreciation on social media or their blog, but brand ambassadors also work in-person giving out samples or speaking about products at events.

WHY USE BRAND AMBASSADORS?

These advocates humanize your brand and add authenticity to your marketing efforts. Hootsuite also suggests that brand ambassadors can help drive traffic to your website, increase your brand presence in targeted regions, and provide positive word of mouth. The key is choosing the right brand ambassadors.

To figure out if you could benefit from a brand ambassador, first consider if your organization is ready for the broader reach and increased attention.

CONSIDER THESE FIVE FACTORS WHEN SELECTING BRAND AMBASSADORS

When choosing ambassadors, consider these important qualities:

  1. Passion: How passionate are they about your brand? Have they already been acting as ambassadors, sharing their love for your brand on their social media channels? Have they reached out on their own about working with you?
  2. Product use: Have they already purchased your products? Customers are the best place to start your search for ambassadors. According to Founder U’s guide on how to promote a product: “Do you notice that some of your customers rave about you on social media without any prompting from you? They might be a natural brand ambassador that can carry your new product into spaces you couldn’t reach on your own.”
  3. Influence: How influential are they within your target demographic? You can determine this by looking at their follower count and calculating engagement rate per post. Use RivalIQ’s 2018 Benchmark Report to compare.
  4. Authority: Do they have a trustworthy brand and provide accurate information and honest opinions? In a world filled with “fake news,” consumers are looking for brands they can trust.
  5. Creativity and authenticity: What does this person bring as an ambassador? Do they have unique ideas they’ll be applying? Do they come across as authentic in their interactions?

Also, consider how you’ll compensate the individual. Will you send them new products? Can they make requests? Is there a minimum number of posts they need to do each week or events they need to attend?

As you begin to look for ambassadors, consider the many ways you can use them to expand your reach and take your business to the next level.

Create Content for Social Media

One of the most common ways to work with brand ambassadors is social media posts. This type of agreement helps you generate user generated content.

Instead of using a stock photo or product image in your Instagram post, for example, you might repost an image from your brand ambassador. The value is two-fold:

  1. You save time and money by creating less content on your own.
  2. You can post natural, relatable images of your product in use, which helps humanize your brand and higlights the benefits of your product. 

Promote New Products

Build brand ambassadors into your product launch plans. Ambassadors can help drive initial sales, especially when they’re posting on social media. For example, ship new products to all ambassadors for an Instagram live unboxing paired with a discount code for their followers. Or, ask ambassadors to facilitate a giveaway with their audience using branded hashtags.

Or, invite event ambassadors to promote the new product at industry events. With free giveaways you can drive brand equity, authenticity and take advantage of face-time with potential customers. 

Write Authentic Blog Reviews

Collective Bias found that 75 percent of consumers trust product endorsements by non-celebrity bloggers, which explains why the mommy blogger industry was one of the first to explode in online influencer marketing, with moms endorsing the products they love for their families and kids.

Brands can make use of this influencer marketing by selecting ambassadors who have built a large online following. These ambassadors can include your brand in “product roundups” or holiday gift guides, or refer to them in a variety of posts, as specified in your brand ambassador contract. In many cases, you end up with a mix of blog content and social media posts, expanding your reach exponentially.

Note that many influential bloggers charge for this work, so you may need to pay a one-time fee if the relationship is not on-going.

Target Specific Regions

If you want to target or expand into specific regions, look for local ambassadors to promote your brand. These ambassadors can provide support both online and offline, at events and on social media. In this case, you’ll still want to keep all the standard qualifications in mind, in addition to looking for people who have a strong influence within that specific region, not just online.

There are many ways to use brand ambassadors to promote your products and drive trust and brand equity for your business. Keep these ideas in mind as you determine how to best use brand ambassadors for your marketing efforts.

Jessica writes about online marketing best practices. Her work can be found on more than 500 websites, including Virgin, Forbes, MarTech, Score.org and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.

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