What Are Brand Ambassadors and Why Are They Important?

Bright yellow soda can with straw, on pink background. Blog post on definition of brand amabassadors
Bright yellow soda can with straw, on pink background. Blog post on definition of brand amabassadors

Knowing and cultivating relationships with brand fans, aka brand ambassadors is invaluable. We are going to take a look at what it means to be a brand ambassador and how important they are in communicating with your consumers. We also have an Influencer Marketing ebook available to download for when you're ready to incorporate influencer marketing into your strategy.

Over the past few years, methods for reaching a target audience have changed significantly. What was once considered cutting-edge, no longer works. The days of one-direction communication are over. What’s the latest trend in marketing communications? Brand Ambassadors.

And by saying brand ambassadors, we are not necessarily thinking of big names. Okay, celebrities are brand ambassadors as well, but we want to focus on individuals who aren’t Oscar-winning actors but can still have a significant impact on a brand’s image. Let’s start from the beginning. People trust brand ambassadors. Companies (should) love them.

Table of contents

What Is a Brand Ambassador?

Essentially, a brand ambassador promotes a product or brand that they feel positively towards and want to share with their followers. There are many types of brand ambassadors. We are going to focus on the top 4 most popular:

  1. Influencers

  2. Customer Ambassadors

  3. Expert Ambassadors

  4. Affiliate Ambassadors

Brand ambassadors are also known by similar titles such as; brand advocates, brand representatives, brand associates and many more. But essentially these terms all represent individuals who companies engage with (paid and unpaid) to increase their brand awareness to potential customers.

Influencers

A transactional relationship, often paid directly by the brand to promote products, they usually have a medium-large engaged following across multiple social media platforms. Working with brands on specific campaigns and representing them both online and at physical events. 

We aren't just talking A-List celebrities, nowadays, brands focus on bloggers and personalities on social media (YouTubers, Instagrammers and TikTokers). These social media superstars often achieve similar campaign marketing results as the “big names.” They open their engaged community to brand partners and offer space on their blogs, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, and other social media channels.

Customer Ambassadors

These customers positively talk about the brand on their social media without being paid and encourage others to buy products. In turn they normally receive concierge-level customer service and are gifted items on a regular basis.

These are diehard fans. They tend to get satisfaction from being engaged with the brand and have longevity.

Expert Ambassadors

Not necessarily a customer of the brand or product they are discussing but are well known in the industry for their expertise. Think Dr Ranj on ITV1's This Morning, he is seen as a trusted source of information and health and wellness brands are keen to work him and in turn, appeal to his followership.

Affiliate Ambassadors

Similar to influencers, often shown on social media with *Affiliated/#Affiliated, these individuals normally receive a referral fee or commission on sales of the products they are promoting.

Arguably, the most significant and valued relationship is the customer ambassador, not to mention value on ROI. The Digital Marketing Institute (DMI) reported that 40% of Twitter users made a purchase based on a tweet. 

There are many ways to turn a regular (but vocal) customer into a brand ambassador. In return, they may become loyal (and write about you once or twice) or extremely loyal (and then they can call you their hero!). Their love for and knowledge about your brand can catapult them into micro-influencer status. So, why is this type of micro-influencer significant? Let’s take a closer look.

Why Are Brand Ambassadors So Important?

Brand awareness including brand promotion and image building can be both the hardest and simplest it has ever been.

How is that possible? Here’s the answer. The most difficult thing to overcome in TV advertising is that it became boring and predictable to the viewer. TV viewers most often react to commercials by changing the channel as soon as they hear a commercial break coming. The result is time, money, and resources wasted.

What's more, brands that only positively present themselves aren’t trusted (but it is unlikely they would say negative things about their brand in paid ads anyway!).

According to the DMI, 74% of people trust social networks to guide purchasing decisions. Herein lies the power of the brand ambassador.

If the audience knows that a person promoting the brand is not being paid to do so, they will more likely believe them. Authenticity and trust are rising the ranks in the most significant factors that influence whether someone is impacted by the recommendation. 

Now take a look at the “simplest part” of building an image. We live at a time when the internet is creating tremendous opportunities for marketers.

We can make noise with our marketing toolbox and (with luck) will hit the nail on the head. With a small budget, we can reach thousands of people and show them how cool we are. We have websites, social media fan pages, and profiles, where they can go to check us out and interact with us.

Icons representing different communication tools on social media

Brand ambassadors not only make people eager to try new products, but they also build an image of your brand in micro-or-macro scale. Ask yourself, how likely is it that an audience would believe a company advertisement over a regular person who recommends it without prompting?

This type of word-of-mouth marketing works great - it gives us credit, expressing satisfaction and gratitude and encourages others to try or benefit from our product experience. But remember, the acquisition of loyal brand ambassadors can be difficult.

What Makes a Good Brand Ambassador?

  1. Core social media skills – do they have the essential social media skills to create the content you need that resonates with your brand? Do they have the ability to emulate your brand experience? Feedback, is also an essential part of understanding how effective a brand ambassador is. Social listening tools give this insight in real-time. 
  2. Medium-Large (engaged) audience base – while high volume of followers is important, its just as important to understand how engaged their audience is and to ensure they haven’t purchased followers.
  3. Cultural fit/professionalism/expertise – before recruiting any individuals, into the brand ambassador role, it is essential to vet them thoroughly. The ambassadors become an extension of your brand, do they have the ability to resonate with consumers? Is their personality a good fit for the brand? 

How to Become a Brand Ambassador

There are a few options available depending on how and whom you want to be promoting and engaging with.

Consider becoming a brand representative for your employer. This is can be a great partnership as you will already know the internal stakeholders, your target audience and customers. It's a win-win situation for your employer too, as employees advocating on behalf of their business is great for positive PR, it's also a great way to show your employer your dedication to the brand! You don't have to be in marketing or sales either, anyone working for a company is a brand representative.

Or if you have a particular brand in mind that you want to work with, it's best to start building your personal brand, laying the foundations on your own social media accounts by creating relevant content and building a following. Brands may reach out to you to represent them but also keep an eye out for brands advertising positions like brand representatives, brand ambassadors or promotional work that you can apply for directly. 

Companies Utilising Brand Ambassadors

Companies that incorporate brand ambassadors as an integral part of their marketing strategy are often more successful in increasing their market share and network of potential customers.

Companies doing this well:

Nike

Erick Eyes sitting on a pavement wearing Nike trainers

The North Face

Man wearing North Face branded clothing in the snow

Playstation

Person playing playstation surrounded by playstation merchandise

How to Find and Manage Brand Ambassadors

When asked, people tend to prefer recommendations that come through conversations IRL. Although, as noted, brand ambassadors are most active online. You can find them on forums, articles, blogs, and on social media channels including: TikTok, Twitter, Youtube and more.

There are available tools to help you find people who mention your brand on social media. Using a social media monitoring tool will automatically gather your chosen keywords’ data and brand mentions, usually compiled in easy to digest graphs. Want to be up-to-date with all your brand mentions? It’s never been easier. Anytime anybody types something about your brand, product or service, your media intelligence tool will let you know. Also, it can surface interactive mentions from the most influential so that you can engage with them.

Meltwater social dashboard

Okay, so what can we do when we find an engaged user who chooses to recommend us? Thank them and thank them fast. In this instance, getting there first is important. You get extra points for two things: reacting swiftly and appreciating the efforts. By showing your interest, you communicate that you are aware of what your audience says about you and that the feedback is appreciated.

Showing your interest in engaging with your audience is the first step. The next step is up to you. Depending on the size and type of recommendation you have a full choice of what to do next. Send vocal customers a gift. It doesn’t have to be a new car. A funny cup, a set of office tools, free monthly access to an account in your application, a calendar.

Remember, whatever it is – it must be high quality and relevant to your brand. Have a lot of brand ambassadors? That’s great! You don’t have to be Santa Claus. Mention them on your social media accounts, leave a ‘thank you, Ann!’ below the comment. You need to estimate the scale and nurture them as you feel. And you should always take your brand ambassadors seriously.

Employees also make great ambassadors! Done well, employee brand ambassador programs can be a powerful marketing channel and an untapped source of brand advocacy. So, don’t overlook them.

Summary

Nowadays, brand ambassadors mean the world to brands. As brands earmark thousands of dollars for campaigns, agencies, and space/time, fans who recommend them for free are a treasure trove of gold.

Fortunately, they are more affordable than a pot of gold. It is necessary to keep an eye on brand ambassadors, be thankful, appreciative, stay in touch, ask what they expect of your brand and what positive role you want them to play, and never, NEVER underestimate their power.

Neglecting them is a sin against your brand reputation. Be as good to your audience as they believe you are.

If you would like help finding and engaging with brand ambassadors or are ready to step into the realms of influencer marketing download our ebook, The Ultimate to Influencer Marketing. or if you’d like to learn more about how our media monitoring solution can help you measure your brand ambassador’s success, fill out the demo form below.

Meltwater's ultimate guide to influencer marketing

This article originally was written by Magdalena Urbaniak from Business2Community.

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