Brand ambassadors are real people who love your brand, who want to see your brand succeed, and who genuinely and actively use your products.
They have usually promoted your brand on their own social media account or blog, or have left highly positive reviews or comments about your brand, without any prompting from you. They could be your employees, partners, or customers.
After identifying people like these, who are already enthusiastic about your brand and its products, your brand will officially recruit these people as your ambassadors.
The main role of a brand ambassador is to promote your brand in the long term via word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM). Thus, ambassadors must be pros at talking about your brand online and offline: on their own social media accounts, at trade shows, at community events, during guerrilla marketing efforts, and via networking.
But how exactly do brand ambassadors benefit your brand? What essential traits must you look for when recruiting brand ambassadors, and where can you find them?
Finding and recruiting brand ambassadors
In this guide to finding and recruiting brand ambassadors, you’ll learn:
- How brand ambassadors differ from influencers and promoters
- Reasons recruiting ambassadors will benefit your brand
- Characteristics to look for when selecting a brand ambassador
- Methods of recruiting ambassadors
- Advantages and disadvantages of recruiting your employees as brand ambassadors
Brand ambassadors vs. influencers and promoters
Influencers only promote your products for short periods of time. However, brand ambassadors are in it for the long haul; they’ll promote your brand continuously. And influencers generally have an online focus (they’ll just talk about your brand on their social media or blog). Meanwhile, ambassadors divide their time between online and in-person promotions, so they must be equally skilled at delivering each type of promotion authentically and confidently.
Unlike promoters, ambassadors love having authentic one-on-one conversations with people who are interested in your brand and products rather than sticking to a script. Through these conversations, ambassadors prioritize building solid relationships between a brand and a customer (or potential customer) rather than closing a sale.
In contrast, promoters strive to secure as many sales as possible in the shortest amount of time. They’ll converse with prospective customers about the products they represent, but their objective is always to push the product and secure the sale.
@breexjanae serves as a brand ambassador for Pura Vida.
Why do you need brand ambassadors?
Brand ambassadors will benefit your brand through their long-term commitment, authenticity, and cost-effective promotion.
Brand ambassadors make a lasting commitment to your brand, and choose to work with your brand because they already have a positive relationship with you. They’ve likely promoted your brand regularly already, without prompting from you.
Ambassadors will usually create digital content for your brand on a continuous basis. As stated above, unlike influencers (who post about your brand only once or twice), ambassadors will share about your brand often on their social media accounts or blogs. And you can rely on ambassadors to keep sharing their positive experiences offline, too, in multiple different scenarios.
Shea Moisture’s SheaBassadors, like Madison Elizabeth (@_madisonelizabeth), receive multiple boxes of Shea Moisture products in their year of ambassadorship, and commit to posting their thoughts on each box.
Brand ambassadors use your products regularly in real life, speak from their own perspective, and recommend your products based on authentic experience, without being too “salesy.” They don’t try to push products or opinions, and never explicitly tell anyone to “try this” or “buy this.” Instead, their goal is simply to inform: to explain why they love a product based on how they’ve personally used it.
So, it’s easy for ambassadors to connect with their audiences genuinely and with true enthusiasm – and it’s easy for your potential customers to trust ambassadors’ opinions. Ambassador recommendations are far more effective than traditional ads. According to Talk Triggers, the most valued source of information is from personal experience.
One of the best parts about hiring brand ambassadors is that they are far more cost-effective than traditional ads. After all, rather than being driven by external rewards, ambassadors are primarily motivated intrinsically. So, even if you reward them for their advocacy, the rewards aren’t the most important reason why they share your brand. Rather, their primary motivations are seeing your brand succeed and helping it grow – they’re often more than happy to share without compensation.
Finding the perfect ambassadors: who should you look for?
You’ll want to create a network of ambassadors to reach a wide and relevant audience. First and foremost, you must look for people who have an established love for your brand, who use your products or services regularly, and who already embody your brand’s mission and values at all times. But you should choose brand ambassadors who also fit into at least one of these categories:
Look for people who have posted the most glowing social media posts or online reviews of your brand. These posts show the enthusiasm you need from your ambassadors! Ambassadors must draw people in to listen to them through their positive energy, and convince the people they’re talking to to share the same excitement about your brand. Their enthusiasm must never diminish.
Merlissa is not a formal brand ambassador for the brand World Peas, which she shares here. But because of her enthusiasm, Merlissa (@xomerlissa) would make a great ambassador for this brand.
Authentic, repeated advocates
Find customers who have shared genuine love for your brand multiple times, without prompting from your brand, and without sounding like just another sales pitch. After all, the brand ambassadors you recruit will need to post about your brand many times, but their posts must always seem natural to their audience.
Niche authorities – people with expertise in the area your brand serves – are effective ambassadors because their standing will make people more likely to trust your brand. For example, a dentist might serve as a brand ambassador for toothpaste, a respected backpacker might represent a hiking equipment company, a dermatologist might promote sunscreen, or a professional photographer might agree to be an ambassador for Canon cameras.
Alternatively, instead of choosing niche authorities, you could recruit people who have high authority among members of your target audience. Audience authorities have a solid base of friends, peers, and/or followers who trust them highly. These peers who follow the authority must also fit with your target demographics.
Remember that someone with authority will not necessarily have a high follower count. Many ambassadors have lower follower counts, but still have a strong network of online and offline connections. For example, a vegan recipe blogger would make a great ambassador for soy milk.
Fashion blogger and Instagrammer Charlotte Nikitopoulos (@charlotteslookbook) is a brand ambassador for Fashion Nova. She’s both an authority in the fashion niche and an authority among her large audience of followers.
Those who align with your target audience
It’s helpful to recruit people who align with your target audience as ambassadors, because it’s easy for your target audience to relate to them. Plus, their use of the product will feel more authentic! So look for people in similar demographics (age, gender, location, life stage), with similar hobbies, or with similar interests to your target audience.
For example, if you’re a brand that targets college students, you might set up a student ambassador program. If you’re a baby food maker, you might build a network of mommy bloggers, and if you sell tween dance clothing, you might recruit tween dancers and their parents.
Lisa (@mustangsallytwo) serves as an ambassador for Torrid, a fashion-forward apparel brand for plus-size women.
Find people who are talented at holding one-on-one conversations, and who can spontaneously adapt to each individual person and situation. They don’t seem nervous or unsure, but always exude confidence in front of their audience. And this self-assurance draws people in and secures the trust of others.
Ambassadors must be clear, enthusiastic communicators, online and offline. They must connect with any person they meet, and talk to them about how your brand’s products will help them individually. So an outgoing personality is a must!
Related: Do you personally need to learn how to best communicate ideas and information about your brand to the public? Don't rely on brand ambassadors to do everything for you! Learn how to enhance your idea communications with our free downloadable tip sheet!
You’d do well to recruit experts in gathering and analyzing data, who know how to apply it to inform their decisions. If they’re masters of planning and organization, that’s even better. In addition, it helps if you recruit people with at least some knowledge of marketing, and of how the role of ambassador drives sales through WOMM.
Ambassadors must become experts in your brand and your audience, create branded content, messaging, and events that best resonate with your audience, watch how the audience reacts, and evaluate their efforts to inform future decisions. Their marketing will often seem spontaneous (think guerrilla marketing), but they must even carefully plan and execute those “surprising” efforts.
Red Bull Wings Team members strategically offer a sample to a member of a student model airplane-building team, to give him the energy he needs. (@chickenwings_CZ)
Experts at crafting creative posts and captions, in a variety of settings, will serve you well. After all, ambassadors must post about your brand multiple times, and must always keep things fresh. Also, look for experts in crafting enticing, creative events and networking opportunities. This will translate well to planning guerrilla marketing endeavors and branded events.
Choose people who know how to build authentic relationships with others, and how to connect with others on a personal level. Ambassadors must prioritize forming lasting relationships with customers and potential customers, in order to foster deep connections with your brand. Most importantly, ambassadors will build a community around your brand, made up of loyal customers who are also willing to share your brand with others. In other words, ambassadors might mold others into becoming brand ambassadors (whether formally recruited or informal advocates).
People who always act with professionalism in-person and online, who fit at least one of the other categories above. Ambassadors must not have a record of disrespectful, questionable, or insensitive posts, comments, or offline actions – someone who acts unprofessionally could damage your reputation. Instead, pick people with a strong conscience, who understand that all of their actions, in every moment, reflect on your brand.
Where should you look for ambassadors?
Now that you know what you should look for in an ambassador, you’ll need to figure out what methods you’ll use to find and contact them.
Reach out directly
Make a list of your known best customers, then personally invite them to join the ambassador program through a personal message, email, or phone call. This will make your loyal customers feel appreciated, and encourage them to continue to recommend you. It’s a great way to kick-start your ambassador program.
Also, consider reaching out to your partners or employees, and asking whether they would like to become brand ambassadors as well. We’ll cover more on reaching out to employees later in this article.
You’ve probably found people who shared their love for your brand on social media; hopefully, you’ve saved or reposted their content and comments. Think about asking the people behind these rave but authentic reviews to be your ambassadors.
You could also search for people who have used your hashtags, or check out posts that your brand is tagged in, to find out who’s posting glowing content about you (especially who’s posting about you more than once). But running these manual searches is difficult. And finding people who have mentioned your brand without tags or hashtags is even more time-consuming.
Brand ambassador software
Instead, consider using brand ambassador software to simplify your social media searches, and save you valuable time in finding ambassadors. Brand ambassador software tools allow you to quickly search for people who have shared and engaged with your brand or products, to determine exactly who’s talking about you online and what they’re saying.
Simply input your brand name (or another relevant keyword) and check the results. No more slow combing through tags or hashtags. With some software, you can even filter results by target demographics.
And these software tools offer more benefits than just finding ambassadors easily, so they’re very cost-effective:
- Software saves you time in contacting ambassadors. Once you’ve found people who seem like great potential ambassadors, many ambassador software programs will also let you reach out to potential ambassadors directly through their interface.
- Many software programs assist you with tracking and managing ambassadors once ambassadors have signed on to promote you.
- Especially considering the sales ambassadors generate through their trusted recommendations, customer acquisition costs when using ambassador software are very low, compared with using traditional ads.
TIP: Brand ambassador software, neatly marketed as "brand advocacy software," can help amplify your brand recognition and reach. What are you waiting for? Find the right solution for your needs on G2.
A mobile application
Alternatively, let potential ambassadors come right to you: open up a brand ambassador mobile app form on your website. This method has worked well for programs like Pura Vida’s ambassador program.
Source: Pura Vida website
Application forms are also helpful for narrowing down a field of potential ambassadors. If you make a list of possible ambassadors using another method (i.e. software or a social media search), you can then further refine your contact pool by asking each person on your list to fill out an application form.
Ask these essential questions:
- Would you be willing to share our products with your friends, peers, and followers – more than once? This is an easy question to cull the field: immediately remove any “nos” from your list.
- Also, ask questions to determine who’s truly passionate about your brand, to weed out anyone trying to join your program solely for personal gain.
- Why did you choose [brand’s products]?
- Why do you love [brand]? / Why are you passionate about [brand]?
- Why would you like to become a brand ambassador for us?
Remember that applications can also take the form of contests, to gamify the ambassador application process. In these contests, potential ambassadors are invited to share why they love your brand in a short video, or in a social media post with a creative branded image and contest hashtag.
Check out Shea Moisture’s SheaBassador contest for a solid example of a brand ambassador competition.
The best practice for contacting potential brand ambassadors
You’ve narrowed down you list of potential ambassadors to a select group whom you think would best represent your company. Now, it’s time to make a personal yet professional connection with each of them, and ask them to become your ambassadors.
No matter which method you use, once you’ve decided which potential ambassadors to contact, send each of them a personalized note. Mention how grateful you are for their existing promotion of your brand, talk about the unique assets that person would offer as an ambassador, and list the extrinsic and intrinsic benefits a brand ambassador relationship would offer them.
Even though they’re already excited about your brand, a personal note shows added effort and commitment, so it makes potential ambassadors more likely to join your program.
Recruiting your employees as brand ambassadors
Consider recruiting your own employees as ambassadors, as they offer unique advantages that other ambassadors won’t be able to match. But be warned that using employee-ambassadors brings some risks to the table as well, so weigh these pros and cons carefully.
Advantages of employee ambassadors
One key role of brand ambassadors is to act as brand experts, and answer questions about your brand that potential customers pose. If you choose employees to be your ambassadors, they won’t need any briefing or training to fill this role. Employees already have insider info about your brand, and have already committed to your philosophy and goals. Particularly, they know exactly why certain audiences are interested in your product.
Plus, choosing employees saves you time that you would otherwise dedicate to finding external ambassadors. And if you have knowledgeable employees who are dedicated to sharing your brand, this reflects very positively on your brand image.
In addition, employee-ambassadors have social media networks made up of close connections – their friends, family, and peers – so they’re able to gain the trust of their network especially easily. Eighty-four percent of people trust recommendations from people they know more than any other form of advertising; people see direct product recommendations from friends and family as the most reliable.
And the trust employees’ followers give leads to conversions. G2 reports that employees’ social followers are “seven times more likely to convert” than other leads are, thanks to the branded content that employees share. Thus, choosing employees as brand ambassadors is a reliable way to generate high-quality leads.
Disadvantages of employee ambassadors
When an ambassador is an employee, they’re usually more exposed to the “sales language” of your brand. So, employee ambassadors can easily become too “salesy” or “scripted,” which can reduce the trust that potential customers place in them. Plus, if certain audiences find out that a brand ambassador is employed full-time by the brand, these audiences may question the ambassador’s authenticity. They may suspect that the ambassador is just sharing because they’re paid to do so.
And it’s easy for compensation to become more of a motivator for employee ambassadors than it should be. Thus, you must make sure that intrinsic motivations, especially love for your brand, remain the primary motivators for your employees.
Worst of all, your employees’ values can change as their individual reputation increases. According to HRM:
“As an employee’s status rises [among their audience], it can shift the brand equity from the [company] to an individual employee.”
In other words, the trust in an individual ambassador is what leads certain people to trust your brand. Even if they seem loyal to your brand, an ambassador might resign if they find a better opportunity elsewhere – and take the respect they gained with them. The trust ambassadors’ followers place in your brand may plummet since the ambassador stopped promoting you. And that trust could move to a competitor. So, proceed with caution when recruiting employee ambassadors.
Brand ambassadors provide a wealth of advantages over traditional ads, so consider recruiting ambassadors for their long-term commitment to your brand, authenticity and cost-effectiveness. When searching for brand ambassadors, look for enthusiastic, authentic fans of your brand; authorities among an audience or in a niche; people who align with your target audience; skilled communicators and relationship builders; creative, strategic marketers; and people who conduct themselves professionally.
Use methods such as software programs, social media, and applications to find ambassadors. Then, send personalized notes to your top ambassador picks, to increase the likelihood that they will sign on. And consider recruiting your employees as brand ambassadors, but weigh the pros and cons carefully before proceeding.
Now that you know how to find and recruit brand ambassadors, you’re on your way to creating a successful brand ambassador program.
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