Elevating Your Brand with Influencers & Brand Ambassadors
Updated: Jan 10, 2022
Where people congregate, marketing opportunities abound. Whether it’s papyrus posters in ancient times or newspaper advertisements since the 16th century, influencers and brand ambassadors have taken many forms. Who wouldn’t want a dress fashioned by the queen’s seamstress? Buy the cigarettes the ultimate sexy-cool cowboy smokes?
Today, marketing relies heavily on technology. Radio and TV advertising have merged into internet marketing that’s evolved into multiple social media channels over the last decade-plus. And throughout history, one of the most reliable marketing methods is to associate a product with a personality that elicits emotional responses that generate sales — influencers and brand ambassadors.
What Are Influencers?
Celebrities like film stars and sports figures have been spokespeople for brands and products since the early 20th century. But when it comes to social media marketing, influencers are individuals whose claim to fame is expertise in a specific topic or niche with dedicated social media audiences.
That person could be a personal development guru, a financial consultant, a nutrition and fitness specialist, or a parenting or travel blogger. Regardless of the niche, this person inspires trust and influences others. And while they may market their own products or services, many are also paid to mention, demonstrate, and promote other products and brands for a fee.
Because influencers spend a great deal of time creating content to build engaged audiences with high levels of trust, they can be extremely effective in building brand awareness and driving sales. In fact, 89 percent of marketers say that influencer marketing generates better or much better ROI than other channels.
While some small influencers will accept free products in exchange for promoting brands, most expect to be paid for their ability to drive sales. Influencer pay varies by audience size, industry, and the social media platform the influencer uses. Depending on these factors, brands can pay as little as $20 or as much as $20,000 for a sponsored post.
Importance of Nano and Micro Level Influencers
It's also important to understand that even people with relatively small followings can be effective influencers. Niche experts with as few as 1,000 to 20,000 social media followers — called nano- or micro-influencers — often have highly engaged audiences. Although these influencers don't have the reach of their more well-known counterparts, their content may be perceived as more authentic or personal and therefore resonate strongly with attentive audiences.
What Are Brand Ambassadors?
Brand ambassadors are similar to influencers in many ways. They differ, however, in that a brand ambassador may or may not have a significant social media following.
Brand ambassadors can be almost anyone including actors with a specialty in brand ambassadorship and even employees and loyal customers. Brand ambassadors are often consumers who personally use and enjoy a company's products long before becoming ambassadors for their favorite brands. Success depends on appearance, personality, demeanor, and other characteristics that reflect the brand’s identity and earn trust.
While influencers promote products to their own audiences, brand ambassadors create content or deliver carefully crafted endorsements for brands to distribute independently.
Brand ambassadors also tend to cost less than influencers. While many are paid to promote products, others make public endorsements in exchange for free products. Some even promote brands without compensation, just to see their favorite companies succeed.
Why Are Influencers and Brand Ambassadors a Key Element in Marketing?
No brand would erect a billboard on a dusty country road in the middle of nowhere. Products and services need to be seen, and social media channels are jammed superhighways.
But even the best billboard on the busiest road won’t generate brand awareness or sales like word of mouth advertising, especially when those words come from highly respected influencers and believable brand ambassadors on social media.
The marketing benefits of influencer and brand ambassador marketing are many. The expanded reach multiplies exponentially. Audiences are impacted directly, and each of those individuals has friends, families, and even social media presences of their own.
Plus, alignment with an influential trendsetter is like joining the cool kids. The reputation boost can benefit sales almost immediately or be part of a long-term trust-building strategy. On top of that, an influencer's user-generated content is unique and doesn’t suffer from advertising blindness as banner ads do.
Finally, brand ambassadors lend a human element to a product or service. And it’s not just word-of-mouth advertising. Brand ambassadors grow brands through trust and, in some cases, customer service. Who wouldn’t want to buy from someone who feels like a trustworthy friend, neighbor, or hero?
Influencers and brand ambassadors help businesses market their products effectively through social media. Developing and executing an effective strategy for using these marketing channels is essential.