Famous and influential individuals have long been used as an effective way to represent and promote brands. These brand representatives were commonly referred to as brand ambassadors before social media, but the meaning of that term has evolved due to a new breed of marketers on social media known as influencers.
Ambassadors and influencers represent the brands they work for and have some coinciding responsibilities, but they also differ in several significant ways. In the following brand ambassador vs. influencer guide, we’ll highlight their differences and show you why brand ambassadors have the edge over influencers when it comes to brand promotion.
What Is a Brand Ambassador?
Brand ambassadors are generally people who love and appreciate your products and are willing to talk about them in their social circles. They are usually customers who have actively used your products or services and want to see your brand succeed.
Brand ambassador activities rely mostly on word-of-mouth marketing strategies. People in this role don’t have to be celebrities or famous social media figures with millions of followers anymore—as long as they are passionate about your brand and the values you promote and committed to spreading the word, they can become brand ambassadors.
Who Can Be a Brand Ambassador?
As a brand, you should work with brand ambassadors that genuinely believe in your values. There are several groups of people that make suitable candidates for a brand ambassador:
- Loyal customers
- Industry professionals
- Content creators
Some of the best people to recruit to represent and talk about your brand are regular customers. They continuously purchase your products and services, which means they already know a lot about them and are passionate about what your brand stands for—the main requirement for ambassador marketing. Long-time customers also understand what buyers in your niche are looking for and what issues they keep facing, which is valuable information for your future marketing efforts.
Loyal buyers are often doing the brand ambassador work for free already—by promoting your brand that they love so much to their circle of friends and online followers—so they will be even more excited to become actual ambassadors and get some additional perks from the deal.
Employees make great brand ambassadors for these major reasons:
- They deeply understand your products and can create buyer-relevant content to promote them.
- 88% of employees use at least one social media network for personal reasons and 50% post about their company often or occasionally.
- They already know and understand the brand’s values and social media policies—they’ll require minimal training if any.
- Consumers trust recommendations from a company’s employees more than information or news from top executives and marketing or PR teams.
Recruiting employees might be particularly beneficial for brands with small customer bases and companies with limited brand ambassador program budgets.
There are trained professionals in every industry that you can recruit to promote your business. For instance, if you are a brand in the fitness industry, you can hire professionals like nutritionists and personal trainers to talk about your products or services on social media.
Professionals make excellent brand ambassadors as they provide your company with more credibility. Consumers already trust their recommendations and are, therefore, more likely to buy your products.
There are plenty of social media creators within your industry that you can leverage to represent and promote your company. These creators don’t need to have huge followings, but they need to be active in your niche. Ideally, they should be people who interact with you (through mentions, comments, or tags) on your social media business accounts.
Their biggest advantage is that they already understand how to make interesting and attractive content and can quickly adapt their skills to match the goals of your brand ambassador program.
Content creators with about 1,000 to 100,000 followers are referred to as micro-influencers. They can be effective brand ambassadors because they usually build a niche following and create content relevant to that industry. Their established presence on social media also makes them great brand ambassador candidates.
Lastly, micro-influencers often have better engagement rates, and they invest more into building genuine relationships with their follower base.
What Is an Influencer?
Influencers are content creators with substantial numbers of social media followers. They shape the opinions of their followers on various topics and can influence them to purchase certain products or services based on the authority that results from knowledge, position, or quality of their content.
Since they have the power to influence their audiences’ purchase decisions, influencers often make advertising deals with various brands due to their substantial follower bases and specialization in one industry or type of content.
You can easily find influencers on social media platforms like Instagram by searching for #ad or #sponsored—this will show you paid content that was posted by influencers to promote a brand, product, or service.
Types of Influencers
There are several types of influencers based on their niche or the type of content they make and the number of followers they have. Examples of niche influencers include:
- Fitness gurus
- Beauty influencers
- Moms (parenting influencers)
When it comes to the size of their following, there are five types of influencers:
|Number of Followers
Similarities Between Brand Ambassadors and Influencers
Many brand community managers use the terms brand ambassadors and influencers interchangeably. This is quite understandable as ambassadors and influencers both work to promote brands and their products.
Some other aspects where brand ambassadors and influencers overlap significantly include the following:
- They are both chosen for the authority and influence they have in their fields or over their target audience.
- Most businesses, especially retail brands, hire ambassadors and influencers with the same end goals in mind—to present the product/service to their audiences and attract new customers.
- Ambassadors and influencers both get into formal agreements with brands they represent and get some type of compensation for their efforts.
- They both create and share content about specific brands, products, or services they work with.
Brand Ambassadors vs. Influencers—How Do They Compare?
Even though the distinction between influencers and brand ambassadors is not so clear at first sight, there are major differences between these two roles. Knowing the differences between brand ambassadors and influencers can help you determine which approach is right for your business—ambassador marketing or influencer marketing. Based on this comparison, you can also determine the right goals for your campaign and plan a better budget for your marketing efforts.
Take a look at how ambassadors and influencers compare in terms of:
- Role requirements
- Partnership duration
- Team spirit
Motivation is the key difference between brand ambassadors and influencers.
Brand ambassadors represent and promote brands—they do it out of love and passion for the company’s products and core values and rely on word-of-mouth marketing. This form of marketing is quite effective, with 92% of consumers saying they trust word-of-mouth recommendations over other forms of marketing.
Brand ambassadors usually have a long-term relationship with the brand in question as they have used the products even before becoming ambassadors. When they do join ambassador programs, it’s mostly out of a sense of community and deep affection for the brand—not for some major monetary gain.
Influencers usually only promote companies and their products—they aren’t required to love or even use the product or service before they promote it. Big influencers are used by companies for their massive reach and not so much for the authenticity of their relationship with their followers. They are not interested in building a community around the brand in question. Instead, they’re in it for the salary or other type of monetary compensation.
Brand ambassadors are the face and voice of your company on social media and on the ground—they represent your brand and act as the point of contact between the company and its customers. Apart from that, they’re also excellent marketers for your business that are expected to:
- Develop authentic relationships and engage meaningfully with your company’s target audience.
- Know your brand’s values and deeply understand the product or service they’re promoting.
- Create and publish organic content to promote the brand on their social media accounts.
- Respond to inquiries about the brand and its products or services both online and on location.
Influencers are usually hired by companies on an as-needed basis. In most cases, their role requires them only to advertise a brand’s products or services by creating and posting promotional content on their accounts.
If you’re looking for people to represent your company over a longer period of time, you should go for brand ambassadors. As representatives, they’re required to foster genuine relationships within your brand’s community, and this takes time. Contracts between ambassadors and brands are usually at least six months to a year long.
Influencer marketing is different—brands reach out to influencers for specific campaigns. For example, you may contact an influencer when launching a new product to boost its awareness. Contracts with influencers are short-term or one-off deals—when the campaign ends or when they deliver the promised content, the partnership usually stops.
Brand ambassadors can promote a brand for free, but brands offer them various rewards and incentives as a form of compensation, including:
- Free products and promotional items
- Gift cards
- Better discounts
- Exclusive access to new products
- Free entry to company events
- Features on the brand’s official socials
A majority of companies use rewards rather than cash to show appreciation to their ambassadors. While there are a few companies that pay hourly wages or even monthly salaries, it is a much less common compensation system. If there is monetary compensation involved, it mostly revolves around sale commissions or cash for completed tasks.
Influencers usually get money and often have fixed rates for their collaborations with brands, but they may also receive free products to familiarize themselves with the company’s offer before they start churning out content. Here are estimates of how much influencers generally charge:
|Average Price per Post
Ambassadors are often casual social media users with a small following, so brands form large teams of these enthusiasts that have common goals. This approach maximizes the reach and overall effectiveness of the brand ambassador program, but it also stimulates the team spirit and the development of more authentic relationships between brands and their ambassadors or ambassadors and their audience. Using teams of ambassadors means you get a tight-knit community of brand enthusiasts that you can always rely on.
Influencer marketing relies on individuals who have big audiences. Companies can use one or two influencers with big followings and achieve their marketing goals. Still, more and more brands are starting to value the quality of their interaction with their audiences instead of relying on purely transactional relationships that are based only on big numbers.
Why Brand Ambassadors Are Better for Your Business
Brand ambassadors are generally more successful at representing and promoting your brand for a couple of reasons:
- They are more authentic—Consumers on social media can clearly distinguish between someone who is just selling a product (influencer) and those who are sincerely passionate about it (brand ambassadors). In the end, they are drawn more to the authenticity that ambassadors bring.
- Ambassador marketing is more economical—Start-ups and mid-sized businesses with small marketing budgets can use ambassador marketing and achieve similar and even better results than influencer marketing since brand ambassadors cost less.
- Ambassadors offer higher customer lifetime value (CLV)—Due to their long-term relationships with companies, ambassadors are able to bring in new customers and keep them coming back. The customers are likely to stay with your brand because of the strong ties they have with your ambassadors. Brand ambassadors themselves also demonstrate an increase in order value and purchase frequency after joining an ambassador program.
- They’re exclusive to your brand—Ambassadors are loyal and generally don’t represent or work with other companies in your industry when they’re in a partnership with you. Influencers, on the contrary, can work with several brands simultaneously. The exclusivity offered by ambassadors builds trust and credibility for your brand, making your ambassador program more successful.
How To Find Brand Ambassadors for Your Brand Ambassador Program
To build a winning ambassador marketing program, you first need to identify your potential brand ambassadors. Here’s how you can find them:
- Use social media—Your brand’s fans are on social media following your official accounts, meaning you have a huge pool of candidates to start from. Identify and reach out to users who engage with your brand the most via comments, direct messages, tags, or various contests and challenges.
- Put your email list to work—If you want to recruit ambassadors from your customer base, your email list is a great place to start. Identify the most frequent buyers and those who respond to your email campaigns and reach out to them.
- Create and share your program application—You can announce your program on social media or in newsletters and after-purchase emails and see those applications start flooding in.
Manage Your Ambassador Program Without Fuss
After finding and recruiting brand ambassadors, the next step is to set up an organized and streamlined system where you can manage your ambassadors and engage with them easily and directly.
Setting up and managing a successful brand ambassador program involves lots of activities—some of them include:
- Creating and assigning tasks to ambassadors
- Reviewing the content they produce before they upload it
- Communicating with your ambassadors constantly
- Setting up a satisfactory compensation structure
- Tracking the performance of ambassador-generated content
- Monitoring referral sales and issuing commissions
- Giving out points and rewards for completed tasks
Staying on top of these activities can easily get overwhelming for brand community managers that lack proper management structures and automation tools. You can resolve this by utilizing a powerful and seamless brand ambassador management software like BrandChamp.
How To Manage Ambassadors and Influencers With BrandChamp
BrandChamp is a software solution designed for businesses that want to automate activities in their brand ambassador or influencer programs and scale them with no challenges. Our platform enables community managers and ambassadors or influencers to create their own accounts, communicate more transparently, perform their tasks easier, and build stronger, more efficient communities.
The platform allows community managers to design their ambassador programs and manage ambassador activities in an automated, systemized manner. On the other end, ambassadors and influencers can carry out several day-to-day tasks with ease, including:
- Viewing their latest assigned activities
- Asking for clarifications and instructions
- Interacting with other brand ambassadors
- Submitting posts for review before uploading to their social media accounts
- Accessing a history of their completed activities and points gained from them
- Collecting rewards
Brands That Use BrandChamp To Manage Their Brand Ambassadors and Influencers
Many brands have been using our platform to create and scale their ambassador marketing programs. BrandChamp’s highly customizable interface makes it possible for companies of all sizes and from every industry to set up a tailored ambassador program that suits their needs to perfection. Here are just a few brands that love our software.
This popular fitness supplement brand started its ambassador program in spreadsheets. The work got difficult fast so the brand chose to upgrade to an automated system that makes everything much easier—BrandChamp.
Since adopting our platform, EHP Labs has been able to communicate effectively with its ambassadors and develop better relationships with them. The brand now uses our platform to recruit new ambassadors and automates its rewarding process, with EHP Labs ambassadors seeing the fruits of their labor faster. Other than that, thanks to BrandChamp’s tools, their processes became so much more efficient that the referral sales went from $6,000 to $30,000 per month.
This L.A.-based women’s fitness apparel company started its ambassador marketing program with the help of our platform. After three months of use, the company was able to build a strong community of ambassadors, which led to a significant boost in sales revenue. LiCi Fit’s community managers love BrandChamp because it is easy to use and highly customizable.
This brand initially managed its ambassador program manually and kept running into issues with the lack of accountability and structure. They soon saw the need to streamline their approach.
After finding BrandChamp, everything changed—they now manage a team of 900 ambassadors and use our platform to:
- Create tasks and monitor their completion with no effort
- Communicate and receive feedback from ambassadors
- Organize virtual events and sneak peek launch parties for the people in their ambassador program
- Build an overall stronger and more supportive community
If you’re interested in setting up a better, more practical brand ambassador program and seeing what BrandChamp can do for your business, schedule your demo with our team and experience the power of automation.