Apr 11, 2018

What if you could speak to your customers in a way that’d get your message across? And what if they’d listen to every word that you said, with rapt attention?

You can! By enlisting the help of brand ambassadors. While you can talk about your products all day, the truth is that unless you have some sort of established authority, your audience by and large, won’t be that interested in what you’re saying.

Enter: brand ambassadors, your secret weapon for obtaining a captive audience. Not only will an ambassador bring their credibility to the table, they’ll also be able to translate what you’re selling into terms that your audience will be able to connect with. Having a representative for your brand will also give you access to an already-existing audience –their own.

What makes brand ambassadors so valuable? It largely comes down to credibility and trust. According to one recent survey, recommendations are considered to be the best type of brand advertisement. Consumer trust in brands is relatively low, but their confidence in endorsements, especially from people that we know, is a lot higher.

Because of this, ambassadors could be your secret weapon when it comes to speaking to your audience.

Why Use Brand Ambassadors?

Increasingly, consumers are more likely to trust influencers over brands.

A joint study by analytics firm Annalect and Twitter found that social media users, on average, trust influencers’ opinions almost as much as their own friends’. That’s powerful. What’s more is nearly 40 percent of those surveyed reported purchasing an item after seeing an influencer promoting it.

Brand ambassadors, it turns out, have influence.

While you could reach out to well-known or even celebrity social influencers for your campaigns, it’s important to keep in mind that these influencers aren’t always a good fit. Usually, these types of influencers will change, often considerably. But the good news is that you don’t have to splurge on a celebrity endorsement in order to benefit from an influencer. Many brands are sidestepping the issue of cost, and instead teaming up with “micro-influencers,” influencers that have a smaller audience. Not only will micro-influencers charge less, but they also tend to have a much more targeted audience; something that could prove to be extremely valuable.

In some cases, though, influencers aren’t the answer. This is where brand ambassadors come in.

While the term ‘brand ambassador’ could be used to refer to anyone that you hire to promote your company, often this term is used to refer to small-scale, everyday social media users, with a smaller following. They’re often overlooked, but in many cases, these social media users could prove to be your diamond in the rough.

What Are Brand Ambassadors?

Like I said, celebrities can be considered a type of brand ambassador, but for the purpose of this article, the term will be used to refer to everyday social media users.

These “everyday ambassadors” aren’t people who started their accounts with a specific theme in mind. Instead, they’re everyday consumers who have real-life friends and acquaintances as their followers. Their fan base may be smaller, but their friends and family trust their opinions.

“For brands looking for an endorsement, choosing a brand ambassador over a micro-influencer may help you gain a rush of new customers based on trusted recommendations and meaningful engagement,” writes Brian Freeman, consultant, investor, and founder and CEO of endorsement platform Heartbeat.

“The typical social media user generally is focused on collecting followers from his or her friend circles, not from the world at large,” Freeman continues. “If you’re a brand working with consumers, this type of user is much more helpful to your cause.”

There’s another benefit of using ambassadors as well, those conversations that they have about your brand will also carry on into the offline world.

Eighty-three percent of respondents to a Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report said they were more likely to discuss products offline with their friends than to contact a micro-influencer whose post they’d scrolled past on Instagram.

In short, representatives can offer a much-coveted form of marketing: word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth marketing is more positive in nature, and first-hand accounts are more credible than negative chatter online. A good brand ambassador will be able to get involved in conversations, on your behalf, and encourage new prospective customers to give you a try.

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Benefits of Brand Ambassadors

Still not convinced? Here’s a look at some tremendous benefits of using brand ambassadors. See why you’ll want to think about enlisting one, or several for your company.

  1. Brand Ambassadors Can Make Your Brand More Personable
    Generally speaking, people like buying from other people, rather than a faceless brand. When it comes to brand ambassadors, the same concepts apply. Ambassadors can give you a face, or faces, to represent your company, while making your message far more personable. Whether through social media or in offline conversations, they can prove to be your company’s unofficial spokesperson. In their everyday and casual conversations they’ll be able to translate your message to the consumer, in a way that’ll resonate with them.
  1. Brand Ambassadors Can Expand Your Reach
    Generally speaking, the more people you have helping to raise awareness, the better. While brand ambassadors may not have the biggest following, compared to professional influencers, the average Facebook user still has about 338 friends –certainly nothing to sneeze at. And when you consider the level of influence that they’re likely to have over those friends and family members, their value becomes even more obvious. Plus, consider the compound effect. If you have, say, five brand ambassadors, each with 300 friends, you could increase your reach by 1,500 people. Not bad!
  1. Brand Ambassadors Can Help to Increase Traffic to Your Website
    If you find a potential representative who happens to run a blog, this could prove to be even more valuable. Not only will you benefit from your ambassador talking about you on social media, but they may even be willing to link to your website from their blog or do a post that mentions your products, helping to improve your search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your site.
  1. Brand Ambassadors Can Help to Protect Your Reputation
    Brand ambassadors can even help to mitigate the impact that negative reviews have on your company, by contributing positively to online conversations. In some cases, they can even help out with customer service issues. For instance, if someone posts a question on Facebook or Twitter or has a non-technical issue, they may be able to offer advice or share their own experiences.
  1. Brand Ambassadors Provide Word-of-Mouth Advertising
    As we’ve seen, positive word-of-mouth advertising is more credible than negative online conversations. According to Hootsuite, research by Keller Fay Group shows that only 8 percent of brand conversations are truly negative, with the overwhelming majority –66 percent being positive. Brand ambassadors can prove to be a tremendous source of positive word-of-mouth promotion for your company.
  2. Ambassadors Help Increase Awareness of Your Brand In New Regions
    Looking to expand into a new region? Having a brand ambassador that’s based in the region that you’re looking to target can help to increase the chances of your campaign landing successfully.

How to Find the Right Brand Ambassador?

When enlisting representatives, what do you look for? How can you find someone who’s going to promote your company and represent you well?

When it comes to brand ambassadors, it’s important to remember that often, the quality of an account matters more than the quantity of followers. Your ambassadors may not have 500,000 Instagram followers, but they’re far more likely to actually know the friends and followers that they do have.

While your ideal candidate may change depending on your campaign goals, your company’s voice, and your industry, there are a few things that most ideal potential ambassadors will have.

  1. A Positive Attitude
    First and foremost, the brand ambassadors that you choose to work with should have a positive attitude. You’re going to want someone who’s easy to work with and who loves sharing about their favorite brands and products. Take a look at their online conversations, do they regularly share images with brands in them? Do they post helpful content? How are their conversations with others? Polite, respectful, fun, and engaging? That’s the type of person that you want promoting your brand.
  1. A Passion for Your Brand
    This one should go without saying, but it’s important to find a representative who loves your products or services. This is one reason why it makes sense to begin your search by looking at your own fan base first. If someone’s taken the time to like you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter or Instagram, chances are they’re positive about your brand or products. This is why some companies opt for brand ambassadors over paid social influencers. When someone’s passionate about the products and not just in it for the money, the audience is going to sense that.
  1. Great at Offering Insight
    Finally, look for candidates who are insightful, and great at keeping up with the pulse of public opinion. Ideally, you’ll want to find an ambassador who can serve as a valuable ally, someone who’s able to provide you with valuable feedback. For instance, if you decide to move in a different direction with your products or services, you could always run your plans by your brand ambassadors for feedback, to get an idea about how well they think a new product, service, or campaign will be received.

Paying Ambassadors

Should you pay your ambassadors?

This is one area where there’s room for much debate. Some advocate paying brand ambassadors for their time, while others say that you shouldn’t pay them at all; that they should be willing to endorse your brand for free.

The truth is that the decision to pay or not to pay will depend upon the type of endorsements that you’re looking for, and your campaign goals. While you can expect to pay a social influencer with 300,000 followers to run a specific campaign for you and charge for it too; when it comes to enlisting the help of casual social media users, payment, at least in the monetary sense, may not be required. In some cases, it may not even be the best option.

That being said, there are plenty of other things that true brand advocates will usually want. This includes access to special deals, sample products, and even acknowledgment. So consider giving them some free swag, first dibs on new products, or insider access to company events or product launches –depending on the size of your operation, of course. Bloggers will often appreciate being given exclusive promo codes that they can offer their followers. And as a bonus, you can even track the performance of each individual code.

As social media strategist, trainer, and speaker Mack Collier mentions in his article: 10 Things to Remember When Creating a Brand Ambassador Program, sometimes, your ambassadors may want insider access –in order to gain a little bit of street cred.

“A few years ago when I worked with Dell on its #DellCAP events, the customers weren’t paid to come (travel was covered), but they were given access,” writes Collier. “For example, they got to tour Dell’s Social Media Listening Center, then they got to spend 30 minutes talking to CEO Michael Dell…When they go back home, their friend might brag about having the latest and greatest Dell laptop, while they can respond with ‘Oh yeah, well Dell invited me to their world headquarters and I got to chat with Michael Dell himself!’ That’s a great example of rewarding your advocates.”

Whether you’re thinking of paying your ambassadors, reimbursing them some other way, or forgoing payment altogether, it’s important to discuss compensation with each potential ambassador up front. That way you can make sure you’re both on the same page and will be able to establish clear expectations from the start.

While it can be tricky assembling a team to represent your brand, brand ambassadors can prove to be a tremendously valuable way to reach new audiences. In a world that’s saturated with brands –all competing to be heard above the rest, having a good team of ambassadors can help you to speak loud and clear; a great way to differentiate yourself from the crowd.

 

Wondering WHERE to find brand ambassadors? Download your FREE bonus content sheet for ideas on locating ambassadors.

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