12 min read
If you’re looking to take your marketing efforts to the next level, brand ambassadors could be just what you need.  The company’s brand is everything to its customers and prospects. And think about it, you don’t leave up to chance the one aspect that represents everything to your target.
You have to manage it. And do so responsibly, with thought-out planning, and taking into account any detail that could affect or improve something. 

What is a brand ambassador?

A brand ambassador is a person who is compensated by a brand to help increase brand awareness, often by promoting that brand’s products or services on social media. 
We can define ambassadors as either be celebrities or average consumers, and they’re distinct from social media influencers. Influencers are always paid, while brand ambassadors sometimes work for free. Ambassadors are often prior customers, too, and work with your brand long-term, while an influencer might just work on a single campaign.
Brands use ambassadors for several reasons. Ambassadors can help humanize the brand by exemplifying its corporate identity, showing other potential customers that the company has a face. They also help put the brand in a positive light to increase brand awareness. And finally, ambassadors are an excellent method of building trust around your brand and boosting revenue.

 

How to find brand ambassadors?

If you’ve never worked with ambassadors before, you might not be sure where to start. Here are four things to keep in mind when you choose your brand ambassadors, plus the best way to start a brand ambassador marketing program.

Brand image

These can be extremely beneficial for brands, the staff need to demonstrate the brand image too. Too many times I’m let down by a poor brand ambassador.Matthew Beaty, Junior Account Executive @ ZEAL Creative Limited.

Choosing a brand ambassador can be a difficult decision. There’s so much that goes into this choice. And there’s an overwhelming amount of people out there who want to be brand ambassadors. By keeping a few key ideas in mind, you can carefully pick the best ambassadors for your brand.
The first and most important qualification for a brand ambassador is that he or she should honestly believe in your brand and what it represents. Think about what your brand stands for — your company’s mission, vision, goals — and look for ambassadors who want to be a good representation of your brand and are passionate about the same things. Whatever your brand represents, ambassadors need to be willing to express that too. After all, brand ambassadors are an extension of your brand. So they need to be a good depiction of your company for the people in their circles.
What do brand ambassadors do?
Along the same lines, your brand ambassador should respect the values and goals of your brand. Find ambassadors that share the same general principles as your brand and are happy to represent your specific ambitions. If you see any red flags that signify potential issues down the road, it’s best to not work with that person, because your values are something you shouldn’t compromise.  
Finally, a brand ambassador’s work and/or personal interests should align with your brand. If you make fitness apparel, you might want to work with ambassadors who are involved in the fitness industry in a professional capacity, such as working as a personal trainer or competing as a professional athlete.
You could also choose to work with ambassadors who have other 9-5 jobs but are still passionate about fitness — like weekend warriors who enjoy documenting their workouts on social media. When brand ambassadors have personal interests rooted in what your brand does. They’ll be able to effectively and authentically represent your brand.

 

Trust and influence

If you don’t trust your employees to serve as brand ambassadors, then who do you trust?Michael Brenner, CEO, Author, and Keynote Speaker @ Marketing Insider Group

Your brand ambassador should be someone whom people trust, and someone who exerts influence over a large segment of your audience.
How can you discern whether these two things are real? Look for a brand ambassador on social media to scope them out beforehand. Instagram is an especially popular platform among social media influencers and brand ambassadors. 76 percent of social influencers use Instagram as their primary platform to collaborate with brands. And since the Instagram influencer market is worth around $1.7 billion, your business can see massive results if you get in on a corner of that revenue. 
What are the best brand ambassador examples? 
One example of a brand that does a great job picking ambassadors is Lululemon. This famous athleisure company has made brand ambassadors out of several Instagram influencers, such as Kevin Pearce. He’s a former professional snowboarder who suffered a brain injury and is now a motivational speaker with 65,000 followers. 

Kevin Pearce, elite lululemon brand ambassador founded LoveYourBrain

Another brand with a solid ambassador program is Naked Juice. Over the past few years, this company has worked with big-name celebrities such as John Legend, micro-influencers such as chefs with “foodie” accounts and a large following, and small lifestyle bloggers. Brand ambassadors are a highly effective form of Instagram marketing, and now more than ever, it’s a tactic that nearly all of the big companies are using.
When you identify potential ambassadors, what should you look for? Two big things. First of all, you want your brand ambassador Instagram profiles to be marked by authenticity — in other words, they need to be somebody that people really trust. Has this person done sponsored content or brand collaborations in the past? Look to see whether their content was authentic or sales-y and how well it was received by their followers. Ideally, you’ll see high-quality content that motivates and provides value to their followers.
Second, your ideal ambassadors should have a large social following of users that regularly engage with that person. Sometimes, it’s better to look for smaller influencers, as they often have more engagement. Note how many likes and comments someone gets on their posts; make sure the number of engaged followers isn’t too much lower than the number of total followers.

 

Professionalism

Really impressed w/ the professionalism of the @TargetTrek riders. Great bunch of talented, young guys who are fantastic brand ambassadors.Lee Applbaum, CMO @ Parallel Well-Being.

To create the best possible experience for everyone involved, your brand ambassador needs to be highly professional. It is someone who commits wholeheartedly to goals and agreements is willing to put in the work and knows how to play on a team.
How to monitor your brand ambassadors? 
Unfortunately, some of these traits are things you won’t know until you begin working with someone. There are a few ways, however, that you can get an accurate picture of someone beforehand. Take a look at your potential brand ambassador’s Instagram and again. Check out the content they produced for previous collaborations; is the content high-quality and engaging? 
You can also tell a lot from speaking with your brand ambassador. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:
  • Do they seem to be knowledgeable about both social media marketing best practices and your specific brand and audience?
  • Do they sound pleasant and happy, excited to work with you?
  • Are they honest about their weaknesses and shortcomings (for instance, transparent about any scheduling conflicts that might prevent them from posting on a particular day)?
  • What social media tools are they using?
It’s also important to take note of how responsive they are. You want to work with someone who communicates clearly and quickly. Whether they suggest their own original ideas to help move your brand forward. These are all excellent indicators that a brand ambassador will be professional and easy to work with.

 

Marketing savvy

I’m excited to have @Shaq join the team as a Papa John’s board member, franchisee, and brand ambassador. He brings fun, energy, business-savvy and shares our love for 🍕! #PapaJohnsEmployeeLeah Mackey Schultz, Director, Social Media & Engagement @ Papa John’s International.

A brand ambassador’s job is to market your product or service to a broader audience — so they won’t be able to be effective at that job unless they know something about marketing.
Consumers are becoming increasingly more marketing savvy. They’re up on the latest technology trends, tired of being bombarded by continuous advertising campaigns, and have no patience for content that isn’t relevant. Brand ambassadors then need to understand the mindset of today’s consumer, so they know how to craft a campaign that works.
What are some necessary skills a brand ambassador needs to have?
They should be well-versed in social media marketing, knowing all the ins and outs of their chosen platform. (An ambassador who primarily uses Instagram, for instance, should not only recognize how to create high-quality posts but should also be fluent in Instagram Stories and IGTV.) They also need to understand basic marketing principles, such as how to demonstrate the value of a product in a way that creates and nurtures leads.
Ambassadors should also have a solid grasp on who their target audience is and what pain points that the audience has. As you’re evaluating possible ambassadors, ask strategic questions about their follower base to discover how much they know about their audience.
Finally, ambassadors need to be able to provide insightful feedback that can be used to improve marketing strategies. Collaboration is called collaboration for a reason — it’s a two-way road, a cooperative effort where both parties (the brand and the ambassador) have a say. Here are some great books on that.
By selecting a brand ambassador that’s marketing savvy and can help analyze the results of a given campaign. You’re essentially gaining another team member that can provide some valuable out-of-the-box insights for your business.

 

How to create a brand ambassador program?

Once you know how to choose brand ambassadors that fit with your brand, start a brand ambassador marketing program. Lay out a list of qualifications that you want your brand ambassadors to have. Some of these will be non-negotiable traits that you publicize, such as the willingness to post on social media a given number of times. Others will be nice-to-haves that you keep in the back of your mind.
How many brand ambassadors should you have?
The answer will vary depending on the size of your business. If you’ve never tried to find ambassadors before, put out some feelers to see how many of your pre-existing customers are interested. You may want to start by finding 10 people who are committed and excited to work with you. Later, you can ramp things up.
In addition to going out and finding ambassadors on your own, you may want to put an application on your website. Some companies have rolling applications while others set specific periods of time. For instance, applications might be open for one week, and then brand ambassadors are chosen for the next six months. This can help create a sense of exclusivity around being an ambassador. 
Once you’ve chosen brand ambassadors, clearly define what you want them to do, and send them your product (for free or at a discount) so they can begin creating content. Create other value propositions as well, such as the chance to win free swag or an opportunity to have their photo used on your website 
Pro Tip: Brand ambassadors are an excellent avenue to get some user-generated content). Work to continually strengthen your relationship with your brand ambassadors by not only offering opportunities for swag and contests but also by merely interacting with them. Learn more about nurturing a better relationship with them on these blogs
The final step in a brand ambassador marketing program continually measures performance to ensure it’s successful. Study things such as impression and reach; web traffic; shares; and revenue. These statistics will help you gauge how successful your brand ambassadors genuinely are.
One real-life example of a company with a fabulous brand ambassador Instagram program is BANGS Shoes. This unique company creates sturdy, made-for-adventure shoes that are entirely vegan and ethically sourced. BANGS is a company that focuses on community and adventure — traits that are reflected in its large community of brand ambassadors.

bangs shoes ambassadors program - how to apply form

Brand ambassadors have to apply for the program, and those who are accepted receive a discount on a pair of shoes. Every month on a predetermined #bangsblitz day, the ambassadors post photos of themselves wearing their shoes — traveling, hiking, and loving life. But it doesn’t stop there: Bangs also provides a Slack community, a pen pal match-up, and even in-person meetups for ambassadors.
The company works to foster a sense of community, and many ambassadors become lifelong friends — not to mention lifelong customers, too.

How to build your brand ambassador program?

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to brand ambassador marketing, but by strategically planning your approach, you can boost your brand awareness and revenue with this marketing method. Loyal brand ambassadors can help promote your business for years to come. Also, just in case you need more insights from our friends at Brand Mentions published a great piece on influencer marketing tools and strategies.

 

Rafaella Aguiar is the Director of Marketing at Kicksta. She specializes in content and social media marketing. You can find more daily marketing tips from her at @kicksta.co.