Recently, I’ve been hearing more and more about Ambassador programs. Even more confusing, I’ve seen influencers and brands alike misuse the term “Brand Ambassador”. In fact, the term “Brand Ambassador” has been so distorted that it has hit the point where most of us think Brand Ambassador = Influencer and vice versa!
The truth is that those two terms couldn’t be more different from each other and it’s time that we start treating “Brand Ambassador” and “Influencer” as two separate terms.
If we all knew the difference between a Brand Ambassador and an Influencer, then:
- There would be no need for Influencers to fight with Business Owners over the pay they rightfully deserve
- There would be no need for Business Owners to fight with Influencers over the marketing models they’ve chosen
- We can all get back to what’s really important (working hard for that money!
What is a Brand Ambassador?
Brand ambassadors, as the name suggests, are people that are willing to promote a brand in the long term in exchange for discounted, or in some cases free, product.
When scouting for brand ambassadors, brands don’t generally consider the number of followers a prospective ambassador would have. That is generally because while product awareness is a goal, the main goal is to build brand loyalty among ambassadors.
Brand Loyalty [Burr-and · L-oil-tea], adj. – The tendency to buy something from one brand, rather than another brand.
When looking for a brand ambassador, brands are looking for people who are willing to commit to the brand. A lot of brand ambassador programs provide the incentive of free product, or commission, after selling a certain number of products. They do this because the commission, or free product, coupled with a personal discount would encourage a brand ambassador to buy more products from the brand.
The more the brand ambassador buys and talks about the product, the more likely they are to become loyal to the product, thus turning not only their friends and followers into customers but also themselves.
What is an Influencer?
An Influencer is a single online personality that promotes products. They are generally paid through free product plus a fee.
When a brand reaches out to an influencer, the goal is not so much brand loyalty as it is product awareness. Brands send out free product for popular social media personalities because these personalities have built a large audience that trusts and engages with them.
To put it briefly, in a relationship between the Influencer and a brand, the endgame is conversion. This is why Influencers always strive for more followers and engagement rates.
Aside from that, Influencers are expected to put more time and effort into their work, as opposed to Brand Ambassadors. Influencers are expected to know the days and times to post photos. They also need to know how to format their social media so that the product they are promoting fits in seamlessly with their social media feeds.
Should I be a Brand Ambassador or a Social Media Influencer?
There are quite a few factors to look at when making the decision to become a brand ambassador or an influencer. These factors include:
- Audience Size
- Engagement Rate
- Photo Editing Skills
Of course, everybody wants a huge brand like Revlon, Neutrogena and, American Eagle to slide into our Instagram DMs and practically beg us to try their products AND promise us compensation. But the truth is that brands do not approach you if you do not know what you’re doing.
That’s why, if you are starting out, I would recommend you try your luck as a brand ambassador. Yes, being in a brand ambassador program most likely means that you have to buy something because companies are aiming to build brand loyalty with you. But that also means that no matter what happens, at least you got a discounted product and you learned about the work that goes into product promotion.
Being a Brand Ambassador means that you get to practice leveraging your posts to help brands. Meaning, you can learn things like:
- Experimenting with different filters & editing techniques for your pictures.
- Trying out different products and find out what niche works for you.
- Learning to how to take the perfect picture (angles, lighting, positioning, etc.)
Most importantly, you get to learn what your audience wants. You learn things like:
- What are the best times to post?
- Who are your active followers?
- What do they (your active followers) like?
And so much more.
If you have experience promoting products and you have proven results that have come from your postings, then I recommend starting to walk away from Brand Ambassador programs and begin reaching out to brands to build your status as an Influencer.
As a Business Owner, Should I Look for Brand Ambassadors or Influencers?
If you are a B2C company that is just starting out, a brand ambassador program would benefit you better than an influencer campaign. You will still be able to achieve buzz on social media, but you will also be selling products at the same time. Therefore, the marketing costs will be cheaper.
Through brand ambassadors, you will also be able to make loyal customers who will talk about the brand to their friends, family, and audience. Most brand ambassadors are happy to receive discounted products. But since they will be helping you sell your product, I advise you to give them the opportunity for making a commission.
If you have a little more experience with influencer marketing, or if you have a marketing team that can keep track of these things, you can approach an influencer and negotiate a business relationship. Keep in mind that Influencers generally ask for a free product while Brand Ambassadors settle for discounted product. Influencers will also ask for a fee, along with the product. So, the marketing costs of hiring an influencer will be greater.