UPDATE May 1, 2019—A brand ambassador is defined as a social media user who consistently promotes a brand’s image, products, or services. In general, brand ambassadors leverage their social prowess to boost brand awareness and embody the values and missions of a brand.
In contrast to a spokesperson, brand ambassadors have an ongoing relationship with the brand, working collaboratively to showcase new products, share relevant content, and attend brand events. Brand ambassadors share a personal connection with the brand—an identity—and build a story with the brand.
Due to their personal investment and social influence, brand ambassadors interact with the brand’s audience, bringing back insights to a brand.
Brand ambassador programs enable a range of people to work with the brand and usually span a large time period to fully develop professional relationships and allow brand ambassadors to introduce the brand to their audience.
To find these avid brand ambassadors, brands may rely on social listening which involves finding customers who are passionate about the brand and who are already actively sharing information about it on their own social channels.
Consumers are inundated with massive quantities of information from competing brands on a daily basis making it difficult for businesses to stand out. Fueled by the time people spend on social media, brand ambassadors give brands a megaphone to cut through the noise.
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This month @subaru_usa celebrated National Earth Day and National Park Week with their Love Promise of “Subaru Loves the Earth” #partner ?? and loving the environment means more than just enjoying the great outdoors, it means working to preserve it. Here’s one of our adventures we had with Subaru at the Zephyr Cove Park when we went to Lake Tahoe. #FindYourPark ? Whether it’s out on an adventure or at the Sonic drive thru, they love that trunk life with our @harmankardon speakers! Always fun times in the “party bus” is what the kids call it ? yup, our kids for sure! Love that Subaru aspires us to adventure more while at the same taking action towards the national park zero-landfill initiative. Subaru has diverted over 1,000,000 pieces of waste from local landfills through TerraCycle Zero Waste Boxes ♻️ This waste has been recycled and turned into park benches, bike racks, and more! If you want to help— you can collect anything from snack bags, disposable cups, lids, plastic straws, coffee pods, and bring any recyclables to a local participating Subaru retailer to be recycled. #DontFeedTheLandfills #SubaruAmbassador #SubaruAscent #SubaruLove
In order to understand why brands leverage brand ambassadors to reach their target audience, you must identify the characteristics of an ideal brand ambassador and determine what exactly they offer to both brands and consumers.
Brand ambassadors fall into two main categories: unpaid and paid.
Unpaid brand ambassadors are evangelists with organic enthusiasm for a brand. These unofficial brand ambassadors encompass a range of people, like a loyal customer who encourages friends to try a brand or an online reviewer who writes positive reviews.
A paid brand ambassador is sponsored by a brand, either through monetary payment or in exchange for free products and services. Paid brand ambassadors range from celebrities paid to represent a brand to social media influencers demonstrating new product they received for free.
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Young boy herding the cattle for several km until they can get water from an extremely deep well. The whole process is a major endeavor, but it’s mandatory in an overly deserted country. Water is gold, even more than we usually give credit for. This photo was shot in Niger ?? . (C) Joel Santos . . #liveforthestory #canoneosr #eosr #canonambassador #niger #travelbloggers #travelblog #portraitmood #portrait_mood #travelstoke #travelphotos #joelsantosphoto #adventureseeker #doyoutravel #travelmore #goexplore #wonderfulplaces #openmyworld #lovetotravel #adventurethatislife #roamtheplanet #travelpics #amazing_shots #african_portraits #joelsantosphoto
Paid brand ambassadors are some of the most powerful tools at a brand’s disposal. Their large, loyal followings coupled with a strong presence across the digital media landscape make them ideal candidates for connecting with online audiences. Now, as social supplants mainstream media, brands are looking towards social media influencers on every platform to become their new brand ambassadors.
Brand ambassadors are easily distinguishable with four fundamental qualities:
Brand ambassadors are thought leaders in their field, acting as industry icons that audiences strive to emulate. Their positions of authority make them persuasive representatives of a brand.
The best brand ambassadors are well-networked with other leaders within their communities. A brand ambassador will have a passion for building relationships with the most relevant industry influencers. Brand ambassadors also constantly reach out to a brand’s audiences. This means brand ambassadors know how to establish deep connections with a brand’s most valued customers.
Brand ambassadors have a strong online presence, notably on social media. They reach thousands to millions of people on a single platform and have gained access to consumers’ social media feeds. Many will create content daily, providing their followers with new ideas on a constructed schedule and carving out space in their followers’ lives. When brand ambassadors promote sponsored content, their fans are receptive to their message.
Outside of social media, brand ambassadors are helpful in event marketing. Skilled brand ambassadors will speak on behalf of a brand with professionalism and charisma. Brand ambassadors will encourage their followers to meet them in person, boosting event registration. The presence of a brand ambassador can draw in attendees and add a personal touch to events.
As social media platforms have grown more ubiquitous, the success of social media marketing has given rise to three types of “strategic individuals:” brand ambassadors, social media influencers, and traditional celebrities. Though distinctions between these three groups blur as social media influencers become celebrities in their own right, understanding how each functions as part of a company’s larger marketing strategy helps brands determine which type of partnership will be most impactful.
While social media influencers can also be brand ambassadors, in general, these individuals are focused on their audiences on social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch—and create content within a particular area of interest (i.e. beauty, fashion, travel, tech).
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The major distinction? A social media influencer focuses on publishing organic content with some sponsored promotions from a range of different brands sprinkled in, but they are not a dedicated ambassador for any particular brand.
Traditionally, celebrities are known for their work and public contributions to the world of music, film, art, modeling, television, high society, or politics. While celebrities have often endorsed brands through various advertising channels, their perceived lack of expertise and inability to genuinely connect with audiences on social media platforms has led marketers to opt for collaborations with brand ambassadors and social media influencers instead.
As social media channels have attracted larger audiences, however, the lines between traditional celebrities and social media influencers has become increasingly difficult to decipher.
Today, the average person spends nearly two hours per day on social media. As individuals spend an increasing amount of time online they’ve also demonstrated an aversion to ads. Two out of three Millennials use an ad blocker on mobile and desktop, a number that’s likely even higher for Generation Z members.
In order to more authentically connect with consumers online, many marketers are implementing brand ambassador programs with social media influencers. Here we’ll identify the benefits of building a brand ambassador program with influencers, and provide tips to guide your brand ambassador program with real-life examples.
Exposure & Engagement
Influencers present a valuable opportunity for brands to gain both exposure to and valuable engagement with their enormous online followings.
Influencers’ audiences trust their opinions, compared to celebrities who typically amass larger but more impersonal followings. Because influencers consistently create content around specific niches, they are regarded as everyday relatable experts and tastemakers in their respective categories, thus making them more trustworthy.
Consumers have reported that they relate more strongly to social media influencers than traditional celebrities. 62% of eight to 24-year-olds say they would buy a YouTuber endorsed product over a celebrity endorsed product, which demonstrates influencers’ suitability for brand ambassador programs.
1. Establish Brand Ambassadorship Goals
When designing a brand ambassador program with influencers, marketers should start by clearly outlining program goals. An ambassador program can be used to drive sales, grow brand awareness, promote individual product launches, and increase website traffic. Advertisers should ask themselves why they’re building an ambassador program and outline key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure.
2. Define Your Ideal Brand Ambassador
Brands should also consider the age, gender, geographic location, interests, and other qualities of their ideal ambassador. Individuals connect best with those they can relate to, and therefore a brand’s ideal ambassador should reflect their target demographic. More importantly, the brand ambassador’s following should reflect your consumer target demographic.
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XXX No words can truly express how grateful I am to join the @Lululemon ‘Ohana. Everything in life has lead to this very moment and I’m SO THANKFUL!!!! I’m living the dream life surrounded by the dreamiest friends, family, community, mentors, motivators. Thanks to everyone who has helped me in & out of the water to get where I am today ??? @Lululemon Photo: @coconutcomradery
Sportswear brand Lululemon has chosen its ambassadors wisely. For example, professional surfer Malia Manuel has an ongoing partnership with the company. As an athlete, Manuel is well-positioned to reach Lululemon’s athletic target demographic of yogis, runners, swimmers, surfers, and fitness generalists. Manuel embodies Lululemon’s active, athletic lifestyle.
3. Partner With Influencers Who Are Already Supporters Of Your Brand
Consumers increasingly view influencer marketing as more palatable than traditional advertising, with 70% of YouTube subscribers reporting that they relate to YouTubers more than traditional celebrities.
The authenticity that an influencer brings to promotional content can be compounded if that influencer has previously expressed organic support for a brand. Brands are best served by partnerships with influencers that truly love their products and can make genuine recommendations.
4. Outline Clear Contractual Obligations For Brand Ambassadors
Brands should create clear contractual obligations when building a brand ambassador program. Influencers should agree to a fixed number of branded posts per month or year. The length of the ambassador relationship should also be established.
5. Educate Your Brand Ambassadors
Brands should strive to create an honest connection with their ambassadors in the form of education and exposure to high-level company members. The more an ambassador knows about a brand’s inner workings, the better equipped they will be to share branded content with audiences.
If an ambassador can be detailed about product recommendations, they are likely to come across as more genuine to audiences. Ensure that the brand ambassador understands key product differences: features, price points, intended use, assembly, and durability.
For instance, Fresh Cosmetics took a group of social media influencers on a trip to Cambodia where they attended a “Product Sharing Session.” During the session, one of the company’s co-founders, Lev Glazman, educated the influencers on current and upcoming products.
The presentation served several functions:
6. Work With Brand Ambassadors On More Than One Social Media Channel
Aside from partnering with influencers on social media, brands can also feature ambassadors on their website, social channels, email marketing, and other marketing collateral. Ambassadors can also promote and attend live brand events.
The North Face highlights its ambassador program on its company website and leverages influencers beyond social media. The brand maintains a dedicated athlete page, which features professional athletes that the company sponsors.
On American rock climber and mountaineer Conrad Anker’s North Face page, visitors can watch a video featuring Anker himself, learn about his many accomplishments, and explore his favorite North Face Gear. By featuring its ambassadors extensively, The North Face emphasizes the people that embody its brand ethos.
7. Start Small & Grow Your Brand Ambassador Program
When building a brand ambassador program with influencers, brands can start small and scale their program over time. An ambassador program is a long-term investment that requires patience. Brands should avoid overwhelming audiences with branded content and focus on building a lasting relationship with both influencers and consumers.
1. Maybelline It Girls
Maybelline It Girls are among the most well-known brand ambassadors in any industry. To draw attention to new Maybelline products or attendance at a certain event, Maybelline brings together brand ambassadors who share their experiences and opinions candidly online.
For instance, during New York Fashion Week, Maybelline brings together famous make-up artists, digital influencers, and models around the world to establish a strong presence. Maybelline’s brand ambassadors let their audiences know about their involvement through social media, generating brand awareness.
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Here, Maybelline It Girl Velove Vexis shared a picture with Maybelline Global Director of Communications Melissa Reidhead to her 1.1 million Instagram followers. Velove’s well-executed post demonstrates that she is a liaison between brand and audience.
2. Amex Brand Ambassadors
American Express’ brand ambassadors, known as Amex Ambassadors, are constantly active on social media. Amex Ambassadors post photos on Instagram depicting the ways they can use American Express services and tagging the caption with #AmexAmbassador. The brand ambassador strategy allows American Express to appear in many different industries and appeal to a wide range of people, from music festival fashionistas to small business owners.
Fashion and travel Instagrammer Julia Engel is one of the most popular Amex Ambassadors. Here, she demonstrates how using the Amex Platinum is usable in foreign countries, and how the credit card has eliminated the fuss in traveling.
2. Bose Team Ambassadors
Bose has a rich history working with a team of brand ambassadors ranging from superstar athletes to top music artists to Millennial influencers. Banded together with the tag #BosePartner or #TeamBose, these brand ambassadors are fluid in their social media promotions of Bose products. This enables Bose to reach the demographics most in line with their brand values.
NFL quarterback and #TeamBose partner, Russel Wilson is a prominent brand ambassador who regularly shares photos and videos while wearing Bose headphones. Here, he draws in his attentive audience by sharing his main focuses around the holidays and asks his audience the same with a chance to win a pair of headphones.