Three Ways to turn Influencers into Brand Ambassadors
Marketers are well aware of the importance of brand awareness. But creating a unique brand is about more than having a recognizable logo and a catchy slogan. To succeed, your brand must differentiate itself from its competitors in your niche. Building true brand awareness and trust online is complex, and involves more than plastering banner advertisements on social media platforms and websites.
Users today are deluged with marketing messages, ad placements and paid content across analogue and digital media. Advertising is everywhere: on bus stops, on pop-up mobile ads, text messages, in their feeds, on TV. The result is users are increasingly immune to paid ads, and marketers today need much more than a good message. So how do you gain a level of brand awareness that will ultimately increase your ROI? One solution is turning your influencers to brand ambassadors.
Brand Ambassador vs influencer - what’s the difference ?
Brand advocates, brand representatives, brand associates, brand ambassadors, influencers — the terms are often interchangeable. Essentially, all these terms refer to individuals who work with companies, on a paid or unpaid basis, with the aim of increasing brand awareness and trust amongst potential customers. They know and appreciate your brand, and are happy to spontaneously and repeatedly recommend it.
While brands might work with influencers on an ad-hoc basis, brand ambassadors are more deeply connected to the brands they promote. They are true brand fans and act as customer advocates. A few other key differences between influencers and brand ambassadors include:
- Brand ambassadors are fans of your brand. They are committed social media users. Influencers however, may know your brand but are less invested in the detail of its products, services and values.
- Brands should aim to develop long-term relationships with ambassadors, and activate them repeatedly throughout the year. Influencers often work with brands on a short-term or one-off basis for special events or seasonal promotions.
- A brand ambassador may not have more than 1,000 followers. Whereas influencers usually have a minimum of 1,000 followers.
A brand ambassador may not be an influencer in the common sense of the term. Often, ambassadors are brand employees, business partners, or clients. Micro- and nano-influencers can be highly effective in the role of ambassador. Small profiles can draw attention to, and build trust in, your brand because they are authentic and have a profile that is similar to your consumers. Content creators also make good ambassadors due to their moderately larger audience. ‘Small’ influencers like these are inherently believable, making use of them more advantageous for your business.
But take note: a one-time collab isn’t enough to turn an influencer into a brand ambassador. The goal is to foster long-term relationships. Keep reading to find out how.
1. Communication is key
To convert an influencer into a brand ambassador, it is essential to build a good, personal relationship with them. Start by personalizing your emails; content creators are like anyone, they don’t like generic messages. Address your future brand ambassadors directly and include positive personal notes and comments on their work in your message. Make it clear why you want to work with them specifically, or remind them of projects on which you have collaborated on before.
Regular communication with your ambassadors will help you build a durable and mutually-beneficial relationship. Make them feel special with handwritten notes, an appreciative comment on social media, a “thank you” after a project. That’s how you strengthen your ties.
2. Stay in touch, even outside campaigns
Frequent collaborations generate interest in your brand and enable you to convert influencers into brand ambassadors. It is important to renew your collaborations with your favorite influencers during key periods of the year and inform them of what’s new at the company. Send them products regularly so they can get to know and appreciate the brand. Invite them to product launches and company events so they feel invested in the company’s success. If they are true fans, they’ll enjoy trying out new products and mention them spontaneously in their posts. Such organic communication increases your brand’s visibility outside of influencer marketing collabs.
3. Create unique experiences and innovate with co-branding
Attract influencers to your brand by offering them premium consumer experiences. More than beautiful products presented attractively, this means personalizing gifts and products to suit their needs. Match beauty products to their skin type, take note of their dietary preferences, and personal interests and hobbies. Personalization is essential to helping them understand and appreciate your products, and to encouraging them to talk about your brand on their channels.
Beauty brand T.LeClerc, for example, activated its ambassadors with a ‘digital wheel’ which delivered personalized recommendations for foundation colors based on the user’s preferences. Ambassadors posted about the wheel and its recommendations, while encouraging their communities to do the same.
Offering unique experiences is a powerful means of differentiation. Be innovative and work with your brand ambassadors on co-creation or co-marketing opportunities. The benefits are obvious: shared values and combined audiences will help both the brand and influencer increase their followers and awareness. Fashion retailer NA-KD often uses this strategy to launch collections co-created with brand ambassadors.
Finally, be sure to involve your brand ambassadors in your campaign planning and strategy. They have valuable insights and understand their audience better than anyone. So what’s holding you back?