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Have you ever hopped on Instagram to see an influencer with a large social media following continually champion a brand? The first time you hear word-of-mouth through an influencer, you may not even notice. However, as they keep sharing more and using the brands’ products, you begin to feel an inclination towards the brand.

The brand’s marketing strategy for increased brand awareness? It worked.

If it’s a good and stylish product for your favorite influencer, then it must be something you need to, right?

Most consumers are influenced by their peers and social media just like this. In fact, 61% of consumers trust influencer recommendations.

An easy way for brands to expand their reach and nurture their target audience is to partner with social media influencers to champion their brand. 

A partnership like this is possible with a brand ambassador program marketing strategy. Think, Gymshark athletes who continually wear and workout in their athletic wear. 

In this article, we’ll share exactly what a brand ambassador program really is, the benefits for your brand, and how to start a brand ambassador program.

By the end, you’ll be ready to create your own brand ambassador program and start growing revenue through offline channels. 

Let’s do this! 

What is a brand ambassador program?

A brand ambassador program is a type of partnership created between a brand and anyone who will promo the brand to their network. Often using social media marketing across channels like Facebook, TikTok, or Linkedin. In exchange for promotion to their audience, brands offer a wide variety of perks like free products, commission, on-going retainer payments, and more.  

There can be different types of brand ambassador programs. Programs can target micro-influencers with smaller followings, or they can target large influencers with more expensive requirements to partner. As well as in-person sponsorships or

What is the difference between an influencer and a brand ambassador?

The key difference between influencer marketing campaigns and brand ambassadorship is that brand ambassadorship typically means a longer term partnership where the influencer acts as a flag bearer for the brand continually. Influencer marketing is most often shorter term–Even just one post by an influencer in exchange for cash. 

Brands with ambassador programs can set guidelines that the influencer agrees to like number of mentions, social media content requirements, words to use when talking about the brand, or guidelines for conduct online. 

3 brand ambassador program examples

Fitness and health brands have found great success through brand ambassador programs, like Lululemon or adidas. Here are a few examples of brands that exemplify successful long-term relationships with their ideal brand ambassadors.

Nike

Many athletes have followings and can promote products just by wearing them as they perform their sport. Nike is the best example of this. 

how to start a brand ambassador program
Soccer athlete Cristiano Ronaldo promoting Nike

Nike sponsored athletes enter into partnership with the fitness giant and are seen wearing the Nike swoosh while playing their sport. Tiger Woods infamous golf ball close-up with the Nike swoosh is brand advocacy at its finest. 

tiger woods impossible shot
Tiger Woods’ impossible shot, 2008

Gymshark 

Gymshark is a great example of a brand leveraging influencer relationships online to create a brand ambassador program. 

They partner with influencers who wear products, use them while working out, and help promote sales and new collections that launch to their audiences. 

On a Gymshark collection launch day, you can go on social media to see all of their brand ambassadors hyping up the new products and wearing them early. They leverage their brand ambassadors to create hype and generate demand for products. 

Gymshark influencer sophie promoting a sale
Gymshark ambassador promoting a sale

Gymshark’s brand ambassadors not only promote products and lifestyle of the brand, but help foster community around the brand with the help of Gymshark’s guidelines. 

College ambassador programs 

One popular example of a brand ambassador program are brands who recruit students to champion their brand around the college campus or at high schools. If students see another student who’s successful and enjoying a specific product that has a campus-wide presence, then they’re more likely to purchase it. 

Coca Cola ambassador
Coca-Cola college ambassador on campus

What are the benefits of a brand ambassador program?

Brand ambassador programs take effort to create, get off the ground, and maintain. Yet, many brands create programs and rely on them for revenue. Why?

Brand ambassadors bring trust and credibility 

When you compare owned content produced from the brand, and seemingly organic content created and shared by a brand ambassador, there’s no contest what consumers will trust more. 

Although influencers have to disclose a paid partnership on their social media posts across many social media platforms, content from their handle with a personality that resonates with their audience will be more trusted. 

Brand ambassadors create content for your brand 

When you partner with a brand ambassador, you can ask them to create content that helps to promote your brand or products. This takes the responsibility off of your team to create and provide content and adds to your user-generated content stockpile.

With permission from the influencer, you can also use content as creative for your paid advertising channel. This takes some of the responsibility off of you and your team from constantly creating new content. The real perk? Content created by influencers that appears more organic is more likely to have a higher engagement rate with your customer base than highly produced content from the brand. 

Brand ambassadorship is cost effective 

The cost of paid ads are rising, and the return on investment is becoming more and more unpredictable. The rules are constantly changing across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat. Heck, even Google. 

Brand ambassadorship is one way to ensure you’re going to run an ROI-positive marketing campaign by relying on an influencer’s personal brand and social media presence rather than advertising platforms. Although you can offer retainers and cash in your partnership, you can also offer pure commission or other benefits to ambassadorship. 

Will a Kardashian agree to a partnership with no upfront cash incentive? Probably not. But if your program includes micro to mid-level influencers, then you should be able to strike guaranteed ROI partnerships.

This word-of-mouth marketing can also be supplemented by a strong referral program, or affiliate program, that helps you acquire new customers by incentivizing loyal customers to share a code or link themselves.

Read more: How to Build a Successful Customer Referral Progam

Brand ambassadors increase the reach of your brand

Through brand ambassadors, you’re able to reach new consumers quickly that your brand otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach organically. For example, if you have a new collection or sale coming soon, leveraging brand ambassadors to reach their audience is a time sensitive way to promote your brand with credibility. 

To do this without brand ambassadors would require content creation, time, and consistent marketing just as the influencer spends their time doing. 

Brand ambassadors can help represent your customer

Brand ambassadors can not only promote your product to their audience, but they can also provide you with feedback on your brand or products. 

They know their audience better than anyone else. As you strengthen your partnership with them, they can let you know what they hear from their followers or what they think their followers will or will not respond to . 

Products with limitations can leverage brand ambassadorship

Some products, like alcohol or CBD, have limitations on advertising channels. A brand ambassadorship is a great way to drive revenue aside from traditional performance marketing channels that everyday brands are able to use without restriction. 

How do brand ambassadors get paid?

You have the ability to structure your brand ambassador program the way that you like. 

When you’re using a platform to host your program, you can create an onboarding experience for new brand ambassadors, as well as a system for sending payouts to ambassadors. Social Snowball is a platform you can use to create programs, and send payouts to all ambassadors with just one click. 

For example, if an ambassador refers 10 new sales and you offer them $500 cash for each, then you can track and payout the ambassador within your platform. The ambassador will get an email that they have a new payout to receive, and can login to select how they want to receive their payout. 

You can offer them:

  • Commission: When using a platform to host your program, you can generate unique discount codes or tracking links that ambassadors share. In return, you can offer commission on anyone who purchases with their discount code or through their tracking link. This can be cash incentive, percentage of the sale, or in the form of store credit or gift cards. 
  • In-kind products: Often brands will send ambassadors products ongoing for the ambassador to have, or will have an agreement where the influencer can purchase any product at a discounted price. 
  • Custom partnership agreement: In reality, you can create any offer you like for brand ambassadors. You can get as creative as to tier ambassadors based on the amount of revenue they drive for you, or create custom programs based on the size and quality of their audience. 

How to start a brand ambassador program for your brand

Now that you know what a brand ambassador program is and why it’s beneficial to have one… How do you actually go about creating one? Well, here are 6 steps you can take to create a brand ambassador program right now. 

 

Set goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) for your program

First, start with simple goals for your program that align to key metrics. Are you hoping to generate more revenue from your marketing efforts, or drive ecommerce conversions for a Black Friday deal? Outline what your goals are for your program. 

Ensure your goals are SMART (Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) and can be measured by the platform you choose to host your program on. 

Set up your program and define brand guidelines

Next, start to set-up your program on Social Snowball (you can start your 30-day free trial here). 

First, create a default program that features the offer for all ambassadors. You can create any type of program you like. For example, $15 cash with every purchase they refer from a personalized discount code. 

Next, create a landing page that outlines your program, any brand ambassador guidelines. Including an application or sign-up form is a great way to attract new ambassadors. The application process should be relatively simple for a new ambassador.

Define criteria for your brand ambassadors 

Think about the type of successful ambassador that embodies your brand, and the type of audience you’re looking to reach. Is it a mom community on Facebook? Is it a fitness community on Instagram? 

Outline what defines the perfect brand ambassador and the perfect audience for your brand. You can also include this on your brand ambassador landing page as a way to qualify potential brand ambassadors. Especially if your program is open to applications from the public. 

Source and reach out to potential ambassadors

Searching relevant hashtags to your brand is a manual way to find influencers who have used your hashtag previously and potentially have an audience that make them the best brand ambassador for you. The downside to this is that it’s a manual process. 

You can use discovery tools to find influencers (and micro-influencers) with followings your brand might benefit from reaching. Many brand ambassador programs include influencers of all following sizes, and may even have tiers depending on the influencer. 

You can also use social listening tools to find top converting content about topics or hashtags that your brand wants to influence. Buzzsumo is an example of a social listening tool. 

Once you have a list of potential influencers you want as longer-term brand ambassadors, you can reach out with a call to action to your program’s landing page. Personalizing your outreach and making sure the influencer knows you value them and their audience is critical in being successful. 

Keep in mind, some ambassadors will only work with one or a handful of brands at a time as longer-term ambassadors. If you’re reaching out to influencers who have strong existing partnerships, then diversify your outreach to also include influencers who don’t. 

Strike a partnership and track the success

Once you strike a partnership and formalize it by onboarding them to your program, use Social Snowball to track referrals through discount codes or links, send communications via email or SMS to your ambassadors, and send all payouts at once. 

Setting your program up on Social Snowball ensures that your program is able to scale from 5 influencers to thousands of micro-influencers with 1000 followers each. 

How do you keep your brand ambassadors happy?

To keep brand ambassadors happy, continually engage them with communications, new offers, and free products. You can send emails or SMS messages to ambassadors through Klaviyo, Attentive, and Postscript to re-engage them or remind them of your brand. 

Apart from sending them communications, you can try to create a two-way relationship by asking them for their feedback on your brand or products, and continually improving your relationship with them and their followers. 

Making your ambassadors feel attached to your brand and continue to value your partnership will only help them continue to create good content and promote you to their audience. If you strike up a partnership and fail to contact them again, it’s likely they’ll forget about your brand over time. 

Start your own brand ambassador program

Now that you know how, it’s time to think about how this applies to your brand and create your own brand ambassador program! 

Start thinking about your goals and criteria for brand ambassadors, and get started creating your program on Social Snowball with a 30-day free trial. If you need help, we’re more than happy to help you set-up Social Snowball–Just book a time with us here. 

Overtime, your brand will be able to reach new consumers at an instant through your brand ambassadors and foster a community that drives your brand forward. With a successful program, you can lower your blended cost to acquire and drive revenue to the next level.