Influencer marketing is all the rage right now. As consumers today trust influencers more than traditional advertising and celebrity endorsement, more and more businesses have included influencer marketing in their overall marketing strategy. To ace the game in 2021, many brands also created brand ambassador programs to leverage the power of word-of-mouth marketing.
While establishing an ambassador program is an investment that requires careful planning and implementation, the effort can be very rewarding in the long run. In this blog, we will help you define what a brand ambassador is and go through 4 basic steps to launch an effective ambassador program. Let’s start!
What is a Brand Ambassador Program?
Closely related to influencer marketing, a brand ambassador program is seen as a longer-term relationship with influencers to enhance awareness about the brand in their communities. Given the rapport between the influencer and the brand, brand ambassador programs can help to create authenticity and allow audiences to resonate with the content.
In fact, content shared by influencers often receives more engagement than branded content, especially for micro-influencers and nano-influencers (60% higher engagement than more popular accounts)!
Who can be a Brand Ambassador?
It is common for an influencer to be selected as a brand ambassador given their enormous following and influence in a specific niche. However, a brand ambassador will not only be social media influencers. They can also be your loyal customer, dedicated employees, or industry experts.
Let’s take Coca-Cola’s Ambassador Program as an example. In 2016, this brand empowered its 700,000 global employees worldwide to represent and promote the company. Employees are supported with apps and other materials as they spread positive messages through their social networks and are rewarded for their activity. According to American Marketing Association, an Employee – Ambassador program like this can help brands to:
- Save billions in marketing costs and lead to overall higher productivity among employees
- Generate higher productivity
- Increase employee retention rates at nearly 90% more than companies without brand ambassador programs
Steps to launch an effective ambassador program
1. Define your ideal ambassadors
The first step to launching a successful brand ambassador program is to define your ideal ambassadors. Specifically, a set of criteria should be listed to help brands define their future ambassadors. A critical factor we always recommend brands to look at when choosing ambassadors is the Brand and Ambassador Affinity. There are many cases where brands get lured by an influencer’s popularity (high number of followers, high engagement…) and partnered with influencers who do not suit their brand image. Let’s explore 2 examples below.
In 2017, Kendal Jenner was chosen to be the ambassador for Adidas Originals and was featured in Adidas’s campaign Originals. The ad was beautiful and stunning, yet all people talked about was the mismatch between Adidas and Kendall Jenner. They felt that Adidas should have cast a real athlete whose story is inspiring and relevant to the brand’s message instead of… a supermodel.
Another example is between Volvo Cars and beauty influencer Chriselle Lim. Their campaign faced awkward consequences as Chriselle Lim did not suit their brand image. It can be explained that Volvo was trying to reach out to younger customers via social media, but the influencers have little or no affinity to the brand’s image. For more detail about this case study, can check out our previous blog about Influencer marketing mistakes and 4 lessons to learn from them.
To analyze an influencer’s performance on social media, it is important for brands to look into their audience’s demographics such as age range, location, gender distribution and their interests, apart from usual metrics like number of followers and engagement rate. Doing so can help your brand to leverage influencers whose audiences are aligned with your target consumers, so your campaigns will receive greater engagement and generate a better conversion rate!
2. Define the goal of your ambassador program
As with any influencer marketing campaign, there needs to be clear goals for the brand ambassador program. Specifically, an ambassador program can be used to grow brand awareness, drive sales, promote a specific product line, and more!
Furthermore, a clear goal should also be accompanied by clear measurement. If the aim is to boost sales, tracking links and promo codes should be included in the content. In its ambassador program, beauty brand Pura Vida Bracelets gave its ambassadors personalized discount codes to track their performance. By sending their ambassadors free products, early access to new products, and other supporting marketing material, the brand increased its sales by 300% YoY and lowered customer acquisition costs by 7X!
On the other hand, if the program is aimed to increase awareness, you may want to look at tangible statistics such as estimated campaign reach, number of posts, increase in engagement, and following by 30% over the next 3 months, for example. However, an ambassador’s activities are usually not limited to social media, so brands will need to figure out other metrics to measure their performance.
3. Set clear guidelines for your ambassadors
A clear and detailed guideline should be made to ensure that your ambassadors understand your brand’s message so they can perform up to your expectation. A guideline is particularly important if you’re working with nano-influencers or those who are new to being a brand ambassador. In which case, brands can get more involved in the content creation process and provide a support channel to assist them.
However, brands should also allow their ambassadors some creative space to get playful with the content as they know what their audiences like best! One of our favorite examples is the partnership between @kerstinong and @underarmoursg. Kerstin Ong is a student-athlete and is an ambassador for Under Armour Singapore. Apart from sharing images of her wearing Under Armour athletic shoes, she also promoted the brand by challenging herself with single-leg hops over up to 7 shoeboxes! The video is exciting to watch, and it quickly gained popularity, becoming one of the most-viewed videos on her Instagram feed!
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Investing in ongoing training and nurturing the relationship with your ambassadors is critical to help them understand the brand and uplift their performance. Even when it is a paid partnership, brands should also provide their ambassadors with tangible benefits (discounts, free products or services…). The more ambassadors understand and love your products, the more positive, authentic content they will share with their audiences.
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4. Track and measure their performance
Like all social media campaigns, brands need to measure the ambassador’s performance and their campaign reach. By using Affable’s influencer campaign management features, brands are able to garner a wide range of information including Total engagement, total reach, number of influencer posts (including stories!), and even engagement breakdown so brands can measure CPE, CPM and other KPIs attached to the ambassador.
All content and metrics can be downloaded and exported into a PowerPoint presentation showing a campaign overview as well as individual performance.
Choosing your brand ambassadors wisely, giving them enough freedom to create, setting clear guidelines and tracking their performance, are the 4 basic steps involved in a brand ambassador program. For brands that are new to ambassador programs, we recommend that you start small (learning by doing!) and scale your program over time.
From finding the right influencers, reaching out to them, managing relationships and measuring performance, many brands are using influencer marketing platforms like Affable to help them run an effective ambassador program! Contact us and request a free demo today!
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