A decade ago, influencer marketing was nothing short of a subsidiary tactic for generating brand awareness. Marketers didn’t put any value to it until recently, when social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok began having an influx of users. Today, what was deemed a marketing afterthought is estimated to be a $5-$10 billion industry.
Despite this opportunity, some consumer-packaged goods (CPG) companies are still skeptical on whether they should invest in designing and maintaining a brand ambassador program. For that reason, we decided to create an in-depth guide on why an ambassador program is a must-have for brands in 2021.
So let’s get down to business.
What's a Brand Ambassador Program?
A brand ambassador program is an ingenious marketing strategy where a company works with influencers to achieve specific goals like improving sales, building a brand reputation, or recognition.
The ambassadors usually leverage their social media channels to accomplish the goal of promoting your company’s products. This can be through online channels like social media posts or blogging or offline strategies like seminars, trade exhibitions, and events. Blending the two is the perfect combo.
In essence, brand ambassador programs usually don’t follow a distinct timeline or duration, but most of the partnerships are generally long-term. For the best outcomes, companies must equip their brand ambassadors with up-to-date and real-time information to keep the end-users hooked on the brand’s content. This information includes:
- New product details
- Price changes and available discounts
- Any changes in the brand’s marketing tactics
- Brand press and announcements
What's to gain from a Brand Ambassador Program?
Working with credible brand ambassadors benefits your business in several ways. Most importantly, they can boost your brand on social media, instigate sales increases, and spread positive messages about your brand. Below is an in-depth look at how your business can benefit by having brand ambassadors.
Ambassadors stretch your budget further
Unlike one-off, short-term influencer partnerships, ambassador programs secure more competitive, long-term rates with influencers. Influencers are more likely to give a brand a better rate on a per post basis if they know they’re entering into a long-term, mutually-beneficial partnership.
Ambassadors amplify brand awareness
Thanks to their enormous social media following, brand ambassadors can create awareness about your company, making it a household name among people who never heard of it before. They also promote brand awareness faster than traditional advertising.
Ambassadors improve your brand's image
Did you know that consumers prefer associating with a respected figure rather than an unknown or faceless brand? Brand ambassadors can help promote your brand’s image and help it stick to a consumer’s memory. Ambassadors also help improve your brand’s image by attaching positive experiences to it.
Ambassadors protect your reputation
Imagine your company making headlines in the press for alleged, wrong reasons. Without brand ambassadors, your consumers would most likely believe the misleading headlines. An ambassador comes in handy on such occasions to defend your company against defamation or derogatory statements that might hurt your reputation with your customer base.
Ambassadors offer unmatched publicity
No more making huge investments in paid ads to promote new product releases, upcoming events, or company news. A brand ambassador can overdeliver on all of these and at a budget that’s more attractive than traditional marketing tactics.
Ambassadors are advocates for your brand
Aside from boosting your brand awareness, ambassadors also spread positive word-of-mouth about your company, improving people’s opinions about your brand and increasing your brand affinity.
Ambassadors can grow your brand's social accounts
Picture this: you’ve contracted ten ambassadors who have a social media following of 100,000 each. If they are repeatedly posting about your products with a link to your brand’s pages, that’s 1,000,000 people being exposed to your brand. That will definitely gain new followers for your brand’s social accounts. Additionally, you can ask your ambassadors to do a “live take over” of your brand’s account to grow your following even more.
Creating a Successful Brand Ambassador Program: What does it take?
Creating a successful brand ambassador program may seem complicated from the outlook. But if take a step-by-step approach, it’s not as difficult as you expect. Here’s our proven formula:
Step #1. Set your goals and key performance indicators, KPIs
What do you aim to accomplish from the program? Here, you should list or determine the following:
- The budget you can afford to dedicate to the program
- The number of ambassadors you want to include
- The kinds of brand-to-ambassador engagements
- The volume of posts required for you to hit your goals
- The volume and quality of content you want your ambassadors to share
- The increase in new customers and sales that you expect to gain
Step #2. Draft an incentive strategy
How do you plan to deliver incentives to your brand ambassadors? The three most common strategies for incentivizing your ambassadors include:
- Upfront reoccurring payments – where you compensate them on a regular basis in advance using cash, gift cards, and/or products. This is the best option when you want your ambassadors to create original content about your brand and products and feel like they are an extension of your team.
- Payment after post – this is where you give your ambassadors creative direction and a posting schedule then pay them on a per-post basis. This option is usually recommended for long-term collaborations where you’re still feeling out the influencer’s value.
- After post + bonus payment – this involves giving your ambassadors a goal to hit over a certain time period (like the holidays) and then monitoring their sales performance. This option can be a win/win partnership for a influencer that converts and a brand with popular products.
Step #3. Identify ambassador unique strongholds
Every company has unique goals and objectives, making it challenging to find a one-fits-it-all brand ambassador model. However, you can decide whether an ambassador under consideration is the right fit if:
- They’ve used your brand’s hashtags or shown love for your products repeatedly
- They’ve engaged in similar campaigns previously and performed impeccably
- They have a large and active online audience
- Their engagement rate is above average for their following
Step #4. Find and invite your ambassadors
The next step is announcing the opening position and finding potential candidates. If you’re already running an influencer marketing program, we suggest asking your high-impact, top-performing influencers first since they’ve already been exposed to your brand. After selecting your preferred ambassadors, the on-boarding process begins. This involves sharing your:
- Brand needs and expectations
- What your ambassadors will receive in return
- Shout outs on your brand pages
- Free products
- Consumer insights and research
- Marketing campaign calendar
Step #5. Launch the Program
Below are our recommended best practices for communicating with your ambassadors after launch:
- Brief them regularly
- Notify them of new products and offers first
- Give them the liberty of creating the content their way
- Make them feel like an extension of your in-house team
- Ask for their feedback on your brand and products
- Send them curated gift packages with items like:
- Product samples
- Company swag
- Seasonable items
Step #6. Track Success
After getting your brand ambassador program up and running, the next step is measuring its success by revisiting your KPIs and comparing them with real-time performance.
Watch indicators such as:
- Your brand’s following and other social metrics like engagement
- Your website or e-commerce traffic
- Sales volume year over year for the period
You can leverage performance analysis tools like Brandwatch to gauge the overall impact of your ambassadors’ posts and comments. What’s more, you can conduct ambassador surveys to gain feedback regarding crucial factors like incentives, communication, program execution, etc. This can give you ideas of what adjustments you want to make to the program going forward.
Get the hype and buzz your brand needs
Ambassador programs are all about creating long-term relationships with influencers. When your influencer’s audience sees your brand’s content repeatedly over the long-term, your company begins to grow exponentially, both in sales and awareness. Isn’t that every business owner’s dream?
Need help finding ambassadors or designing your ambassador program? Contact us today and our expert team will be happy to help you get the results you’re looking for. Cheers!
About the Author: Kristina Coughlin
Kristina is a social media marketer with a focus on D2C brands. She’s the Founder and Operations Director at Get Hyped, the leading influencer marketing agency connecting CPG brands with their target audience. Check out her LinkedIn content for more influencer marketing best practices and tips. https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristinacoughlin/