Influencers: A New Breed of Brand Ambassadors

Alex Shears 3 months ago

Seeing an influx of influencers on your social feeds is the new normal, but if your company hasn’t yet taken advantage of some promotional snapping, then it might be worth looking into one of the best ways to spread love for your brand.

Working with a brand ambassador brings huge potential and opportunity, allowing for an element of human interaction to take hold of your marketing plans. Ambassadors have the ability to encourage consumers to identify with your brand, relaying that a product or service can cater for ‘everyday people.’ A message you can’t afford to miss out on if you’re looking to boost your online presence and engagement with your offering.

But how do you pluck the best ambassadors for your brand from such a huge pool of professional storytellers?

Where to even begin?

When selecting a brand ambassador, it’s important to remember you are asking someone to speak on your behalf. A scary thought indeed, but even more reason to take extra care in your search for a genuine voice for your brand. This will require some investigative skill such as filtering through an influencer’s themes, messaging and values across all of their platforms. But what are you rooting around for the most? Someone your dedicated audience can relate to.

Traditional market research is also recommended during your selection process, but now more than ever it’s important to use tools available to scope out true engagement and followings. This, combined with your own networking, allows you to make informed decisions and gather insights in order to minimise risk.

Risk

As with any business investment, there is risk involved in hiring a brand ambassador. It can be difficult to accurately measure a return on investment with this type of collaboration, but there are various ways to track your engagement metrics.

In such an instant world, reputation can be damaged quickly. Although picking an influencer with a high following and engagement is beneficial, this level of exposure means your brand ambassador is also far more open to scrutiny. In turn, your brand has more eyes over it and will be put directly in the firing line should anyone disagree with the messaging.

A post’s popularity can dip as quickly as it can grow. This was true for brand ambassador Scarlett London last year. For a paid partnership snap with Listerine, Scarlett posted what you might call a 'typical' influencer shot of her enjoying breakfast in bed surrounded by balloons and heavenly food. But the post gained over 2,000 comments for all the wrong reasons. Quickly criticised for her ‘obvious product placement’, Scarlett’s following pointed out that the posed image wasn’t related to the mouthwash (conveniently placed in the background) and also accused her of using tortilla wraps to stage the pancakes.

Unfortunately, this resulted in a shower of online bullying for the influencer and a bad name for the shiny and bright Listerine. The post highlights how easily an ambassador can come under fire and how brands need to maintain some form of creative control throughout a campaign, without taking away from an ambassador’s voice.

If you are planning a campaign with influencers, then tick off these points on how to minimise the risks:

  • Do a history check on your chosen ambassador and study their previous content
  • Consider campaign timings and what’s trending
  • Research past partnerships and ensure they are not consistently working with competitors
  • Negotiate on payment and gifting terms
  • Measure your campaign in terms of traffic driven to your site
  • Measure everything from clicks, likes, reactions, shares, comments and brand mentions
  • Ask to see posts before they go live to ensure that they align with your strategy and messaging
  • Agree on a level of creative control from both parties

Does size matter?

Don’t be completely put off by the risks associated with a larger following, this often gives you the advantage of having an engaged audience at your fingertips. Smaller micro-influencers can also have a dedicated audience, with a larger engagement percentage, especially in a niche market. Take a smaller food blogger, for example, they are already speaking to a specific audience who are much more likely to identify with them, rather than a huge lifestyle influencer that they can’t source trusted information from, such as unique recipes.

Fiji water

One of this year’s refreshing collaborations came from Fiji Water’s Body Wore What campaign, where the brand took advantage of working with an ambassador who was already killing it in the fashion and lifestyle space. The brand partnered with Danielle Bernstein’s powerful blog, We Wore What, in order to position themselves as a brand which wanted to motivate consumers wishing to improve their health.

The campaign offered eight-minute workout videos with Bernstein as an easy exercise alternative – keeping an already engaged audience hydrated and up to speed with some of the latest fitness tips. Danielle has 1.9 million dedicated followers; allowing Fiji to target a readily available lifestyle audience. Reaching not just fitness fanatics, but anyone interested in looking and feeling healthy.

Storytelling to the masses

Before making your mark in the influencer world, you need to ask yourself probably the most important question when finding an ambassador - does their story match up with yours? You need your exciting new relationship to be as natural as possible, and your brand ambassador should be able to easily have a conversation with your audience that doesn’t comprise your values or theirs. The more in tune an influencer is with your brand, the more likely they will appeal to your audience. Follow an influencer closely before forming a relationship, in order to better understand their storytelling abilities.

A growing trend among marketers is to use real customers. Who better to tell your story than a loyal and happy customer? Someone who uses or talks about your brand daily can be your ideal advocate, and this type of collaboration can have a real impact on the future fans of your brand.

There is also a movement of finding free ambassadors, especially if your campaign is for a cause influencers believe in. If your brand is championing a good cause, many influencers may choose to get involved at little or no cost to you.

It’s important to create user-generated content for these reasons. Through creating content your audience craves, you are more likely to find ambassadors who are interacting with it, making them the perfect match for your brand! And when distributing such content, aim to get it placed where like-minded ambassadors may hang out.

Beauty guru and global retailer, Glossier has perfected the art of producing content that their users really want to see. The brand has built a loyal army of followers who are looking to feel fabulous, simply by allowing them to be a part of the brand’s journey. Through various campaigns that allow the consumer to get involved in product conversation, the brand has built a network of ambassadors around the world. With customers doing most of the boasting for the brand, there’s no need for detailed marketing plans. User-generated content, such as engaging and pretty Instagram posts that have made sense of what customers want have been instrumental to the brand’s success.

Approaching the influencer

Relationship building is key to leveraging relations with the right ambassador. Direct messaging on Instagram or email are the best ways to get in touch initially. From the get-go you will need to let them know exactly who you are and what you’re expecting from the relationship. Start by introducing yourself and detail why you think they are a great fit for the brand. Detailed briefs will also be required to outline what’s expected of them and the guidelines of the campaign - including timeframes.

What is your unique proposition? Some influencers can get hundreds of emails a day, so what makes you special? Many brands send out free samples and regular updates about the company as part of showing off their personality. The influencer needs to get familiar and excited about your brand, so jump through the hoops and give as much background as you can. Lastly, always end your email with a call to action, directing them to the next steps for your relationship.

‘It’s nice to e-meet you’ simply isn’t going to cut it, so here are a few other things to remember when trying to grab the attention of a future ambassador.

  • Interact with their content
  • Follow them
  • Ensure your content appeals to them and their audience
  • Offer them something more than money such as content that is of value to them
  • Give before you take
  • Respect their time
  • Learn to accept rejection
  • Flattery never fails - use your first line of communication to compliment their work

An engagement worth celebrating

Other than manually checking for authentic engagement by looking at the percentage of comments and likes in comparison to following, it can be difficult to measure real engagement levels. The general rule is that for platforms such as Instagram, an influencer who has an engagement rate of six per cent or more is killing it!

Use tools such as Follower Check and Social Blade to find legitimate followings and expose any followers who may have been bought. It’s also important to manually check some of the followers leaving comments on their posts to ensure the accounts are authentic. Look out for accounts with thin content or those who leave repeatedly generic comments, and if they follow thousands, but only have a few followers themselves, you can almost guarantee they came from an Instagram bot!

Putting aside the risks and uncertainty, working with a brand ambassador can help your brand generate a buzz and stand out. If the collaboration works, you will boost your online presence, social reach and generate awareness of a product, campaign or issue.

The real aim of working with a brand ambassador is to build a better relationship with your customers. And, if you build a customer relationship that’s strong enough, you just might be able to throw out the marketing rulebook.

We hope you found these tips useful for getting started with influencer marketing, so here's a quick checklist to get started on your ambassador journey:

  • Check engagement levels and following
  • Discover values
  • Weigh the risks
  • Find the right tone and storyteller
  • Approach in detail and be friendly
  • Grab attention and interact
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