Every established brand or business at some point in time would require an ambassador and the services of a leading influencer. It is one of the business strategies used to attract and retain customers. Your potential market prefers recommendations from their network, more than traditional ads that spill unfortunate results.
However, many keep wondering about the difference between a brand ambassador and an influencer. What is the difference between the two, or are they the same? A lot of companies and firms use the term interchangeably.
Although both can accomplish the same role, there exist some glaring differences and similarities that make them very distinct.
Who is a brand ambassador?
A brand ambassador is a person, hired by an organization, group, company in other to represent the brand or purpose of the organization or group in a positive light. By so doing, they help create more awareness and sales. One of the vital elements of a brand ambassador is their ability to utilize promotional strategies that will strengthen the customer-product-service.
Typically, a brand ambassador is often a notable person or a celebrity who is usually paid some amount for the positive representation of a specific brand. Today, however, a brand ambassador can be anyone who knows or can discover the needs a brand is seeking. A dentist can make a credible ambassador for toothpaste or any dental-related product.
The ambassador doesn’t have to be an authority, but their field and knowledge make them the right choice. Most brand ambassadors maintain an ongoing relationship and often, always representing the organization in everything they do in social media, events, talk shows, etc. They can be given incentives in the form of brand products, but it is not necessary.
Rise of brand managers
The concept of branding wasn’t as it was decades ago. It has gone through a series of evolution to attain this current state. Typically, customers were familiar with only a few services or products in the market. In the 1870s, companies began pushing ‘branded products,’ which exposed more brands to loyal and potential customers.
After the great depression, sales were on an all-time low as companies’ sort for a way to rise back on track. That was how brand ambassadors were born. You have to understand that brand ambassadors don’t tell their followers to buy a specific product.
They are representing; they tell them the reason why they love the product.
Types of brand ambassadors
In other to take brand representation to a whole new level, there are lots of brand concepts that you can utilize. They are;
- College campus brand ambassadors
- Celebrity ambassadors
If you want to take brand management to its top-notch, leveraging on all the available concepts becomes very paramount.
In conclusion to who ambassadors are, they are your informal and one of the most cost-effective ways to give your services or products a face and a voice.
Who is an influencer?
An influencer is an individual or entity who can alter or influence a consumer’s purchasing decision by recommending or perhaps, promoting a product or service without getting involved in the transaction. Most influencers act as both opinion leaders and ambassadors as well. Although there isn’t a clear stance as to what an ‘influencer’ is.
A writer defined them as a range of entities that exercise influence over an organization and also, its potential customers. Others say that an influencer shapes the customer’s decision, but may not be held accountable for it. Unlike your relationship with a brand ambassador, your relationship with an influencer will probably be short term.
They merely promote your products or services once or twice, without necessarily having to use them.
One glaring attribute of an influencer is the enormous follower base they have. They are also experts in the niche your brand is built on.
- For example, a Phone company can ask a tech YouTuber to review their devices in a video
- A cosmetic company can contact a makeup blogger to discuss one of their latest makeup products, etc.
One thing you must understand it; the influencer is within your niche and has lots of followers who can be converted to customers. These influencers are authorities in their field, and thus, their followers always go with whatever recommendation they make. Like in the case of an ambassador, people are more likely to trust influencer’s posts, than a traditional advert.
All influencers don’t necessarily have a huge follower base. Some have followers in a few thousand and yet, still command respect within their niche. The type of influencer you choose depends on your reach target and budget.
There are three main types of influencers:
Celebrities: This refers to stars who have huge followings on social media. One of the downsides is that engagement is usually low since these celebrities hardly interact with comments.
Macro-influencers: This kind of influencers has a hundred thousand blog or social media followers. But their followers are less than a million. Their audience reach is usually medium.
Micro-influencers: They are the lowest in rank and have a follower base in the thousands or tens of thousands. However, they have more engagement with their followers and are usually authorities in their niche. They have a close relationship with their followers as they communicate as friends.
Influencers vs. brand ambassadors
As social media grow, the model and method you use to advertise and promote your goods and service must evolve as well. In this era of growth, there are two options that you can choose. If you are financially buoyant, you might employ the two options.
They are influencers and brand ambassadors. Although they might seem like or similar in a lot of ways, there is some distinction. You must understand their difference as it will help you make the right choice.
Here are some key difference you must know about influencers and brand ambassadors
- Brand ambassadors are employees
An ambassador usually enters a contract with the company. They are mandated to support the company for the agreed period. They will attend events and trade shows related to the product they are representing. They receive a commission based on how successfully they were able to sell the product.
It is worth for you to note that brand ambassadors aren’t fans, but they are under a contract to sell and be part of significant aspects that has to do with the product. As ambassadors, they can incorporate the product or the company they are representing into their social media handles, sharing of links to purchase. Sometimes, even serving as a direct agent to buy the product.
In some contracts, the ambassador can be barred from entering into a contract with other companies. Once the deal ends, they are very free to work with other companies, products, even competitors.
- Influencers are an advocate
Unlike a brand ambassador, an influencer has a different kind of relationship with companies and brands. They are not contractually obligated to promote a product, but they can be given a free product with the hope that they will receive a positive review. Often, they aren’t given any monetary benefits, but they have flexibility as to how and when they promote something.
Getting an influencer to help improve your brand means you are expecting an honest review. If there is a flaw in your product, be assured that it will be made known. Because influencers have their base online as bloggers, YouTubers, etc. and trying to build their brand.
They are ensuring that they don’t deceive their followers by giving an honest review.
Choosing the right influencer for your business
Consumers, as you already know, are more inclined to take actions triggered by recommendations than native ads. Just as you can’t trust a total stranger, who comes to brag about his personality. But you will believe a mutual friend who vouches for the person. An influencer is a mutual friend, trying to vouch for your brand or product to a targeted audience.
When you get an influencer, you don’t only bring in their audience; you also bring in their network. By so doing, you increase your social media awareness and drive traffic to your website. Before you choose the right influencer for your brand, it is essential that you connect with the right influencer.
1. Context: One important factor to consider before choosing an influencer, you have to find the context or niche of the influencer. Justin Bieber is known to be one of the most influential on social. But you will get an abysmal result if he tweets about your software business. That is because 12 years old girls won’t be interested in such an undertaking.
2. Reach: Another factor to consider when choosing an influencer is his reach potentials. They must have reached in other for them to share and give a positive recommendation of your product or brand. If you are dealing with cloths of tweens, an endorsement from Justin Bieber will pull tremendous results.
3. Actionability: this is the influencers' ability to compel their audience to take action. Actionability happens when your influencers' brand and audience are in perfect alignment with your business or product. Influencers don’t force themselves upon an audience; instead, they are followed willingly by their followers.
4. Personality type: You will have to decide if you need an activist, an informer, an authority, etc. to best promote your product or brand.
Choosing the right brand ambassador
When selecting an ambassador for your brand, you have to walk a different path. You don’t want a brand ambassador based on followers or reach like in the case of an influencer. It is a different ball game. Here are qualities to look out for when choosing a brand ambassador.
1. Knowledge and marketing inclined
Your brand ambassadors don’t need a degree in marketing, but they need to have a basic understanding of marketing’s core principles. They have to understand the immense benefit of digital marketing and how to navigate it for efficient results.
2. An established online presence
Huge followings are often not very important, but it is an edge when it comes to brand representation. In other for word of mouth to be successful, your brand ambassador needs to reach as many people as possible. The ambassador doesn’t need to have thousands or millions of followers.
But they should have a well-established online presence.
Since they will be representing your company and brand, and encouraging others to check out the products and services, then they need to have a high level of professionalism. If they embarrass your brand or business, it gives off a negative vibe.
4. Natural leadership skill
Your brand ambassador must possess some leadership skills if they must represent your company or brand in a good light. The confidence and positivity are what draw people to them and make them listen to whatever they say.
Compensating influencers and brand ambassadors
If someone is out there, recommending and saying positive things about your brand or business, they deserve to be paid. It doesn’t have to be in monetary value, but it can be though. The main aim is to make your influencer or brand ambassador to feel rewarded, acknowledged, important, and loved.
Here are ways to compensate for your influencers or brand ambassadors.
When rewarding an influencer with money, you need to be cautious on this one. It is to ensure that your generous act does not influence the recommendation. It has to come as sincere as possible.
But for a brand ambassador, it is very much alright since it is a contract. You can reward later to make them feel rewarded and appreciated.
- Shout outs
By sharing their post about you on your social media will get more traffic to their website. A simple tweet that also says, ‘thanks for this awesome shout out, your great influencer or ambassador,” or perhaps something similar can go a long way to make them feel valued.
- Product discount and giveaway
By giving your influencer free products, they are compelled to keep talking about you and your products. Doing the same to a brand ambassador rejuvenate the passion to keep promoting your brand.
There is no broad line between an ambassador or an influencer. Although both might have their differences as to how they operate, their endgame is to help create more awareness about your product or brands. To ensure that you have a fantastic experience and excellent result, knowing their difference, and how to choose the right persona becomes imperative.