The concept of brand ambassadors, or social influencers, has been around for years. The use of social media didn't create the need for brand ambassadors, it just made it far more common. Think about the impact Michael Jordan brought to Nike. What would Nike be without the "Air Jordan?" M.J. came into the league in 1984 and so too came the famous Air Jordans. People clung to his athletic success, big smile and winning attitude. They wanted to "Be Like Mike." They wanted to share those experiences through the products he was affiliated with. Using brand ambassadors is the exact same idea. Through brand ambassadors, you are not selling products, you are selling the experience. You are humanizing your marketing which has proven to be far more effective in today's marketplace. According to Visioncritical, four out of ten Facebook users have gone beyond liking, sharing, or commenting on a product to actually buying it and 43% of social media users have purchased a product after sharing or favoriting it on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter. These are really good numbers and a great representation of how brand ambassadors can impact your sales. So how do you go about using social influencers? Here are a few tips to help you make some sense of this not-so-new concept.
Before you set any goals you need to ask yourself some big questions. Are you looking to grow your brand awareness or are you looking to sell products? Is there a specific demographic that fits your brand? Do you want to target people locally, regionally, or nationally? These questions will help you select ambassadors and give them direction. Growing your brand awareness will help you develop a long term social strategy while focusing on specific products, which in turn, will help you generate some immediate sales. Maybe you can select some ambassadors to focus on brand awareness and some to focus on specific products. Define exactly what you want to get out of a brand ambassador program and it will give you a much more clear direction.
Who Is A Brand Ambassador?
When you think of brand ambassadors you might think of professional athletes, models, or celebrities. That can get expensive! Kylie Jenner reportedly gets at least $3,000 per tweet so unless your brand has a sweet money tree in the back, that is probably not an option. Don't think of social influencers on the 10,000 foot level, think about the grassroots level. Who is using your products currently or who lives a lifestyle that could benefit from your products. Search out and track some social media users to see how many followers they have, how frequently they are posting, what kind of response they receive, and how they are interacting with other accounts. These ambassadors are going to potentially represent your brand or products so do your homework.
When it comes to social media, quantity is not always better than quality. People have a pretty good B.S. detector these days and if your social influencers are constantly posting about your product or brand things might look a little fishy. Posts should have an authentic feel that connects your brand with the ambassador's way of life. Don't expect your influencers to force feed your brand down their follower's throats or you will do more damage than good. Instead, having a variety of ambassadors that can help champion your brand across different social media circles is a better approach. Finding the right amount of frequency will be something that you will need to work out. You don't want to over saturate your ambassador's followers so start slow and build up over time. You don't have to hit a home run with every post, you just have to share a lifestyle.
Each ambassador is going to be motivated by different rewards. The main thing they are all looking for is recognition and this is the easiest way to reward them. Feature their content, tag them, use their photo, post their blog articles and give them credit where credit is due. This will will help them build their followers and in return get you more exposure. Other ways to show your appreciation is to provide them with free products or host exclusive events for them--just keep your rewards relevant to your brand. If you are going to toss out gift cards to Amazon then you are missing a chance to build that brand loyalty. Rewards should be tiered based on your influencer's involvement. Influencers that are more involved should receive more rewards. Provide incentive for ambassadors to move up to higher tiers as long as they are providing quality content.
Ways Brand Ambassadors Can Help
These days consumers have developed an immunity to marketing. People are so overwhelmed with ads, messages and push sales tactics if they feel someone is trying to sell them something they just flip the switch and tune out. However, people have become increasingly engaged with social media and reading blogs on the internet. Brand ambassadors fill that roll. They provide content that is authentic to their lifestyle and representative of the experiences that brands want to portray. So using influencers on social channels or to create blog content is a great way to connect with consumers without being "salesy." People are attracted to the authentic nature they see from brand ambassadors and make the connection between them and the products they are using. Here are a few ideas for ways brand ambassadors can help your brand:
- Regular photos of their activities
- How-to blog content
- Videos of their activities
- Feature stories of their trips or expeditions
- Product reviews
- Product R&D tests
- Word of mouth recommendations
Brand ambassadors can be a huge benefit. The key is to develop a clear set of guidelines and expectations so everyone is on the same page. This will also make it much easier to measure the ambassador's performance and the impact on your marketing efforts. You don't have to find a big name to represent your brand, find someone who has a decent following and fits the qualities and values of your brand. It can be a fun experience to see how people interact with the ambassadors and your brand. Good luck and be sure to follow along with our blog for more social media marketing ideas.
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