You've spent so much time developing your original brand, and now that it has grown on social media and started to evolve into a personality of its very own, it can be extremely difficult to ensure that the brand image you would like to cultivate remains the most predominant attitude towards your brand.
Many businesses believe that it is actually easier to control a brand's reputation than ever but, in fact, thanks to the ready accessibility of social media, it is entirely possible to lose control of your brand as it is interpreted across the internet in a variety of different ways.
Essentially, you need that rare, perfect form of digital marketing which is becoming increasingly necessary for a range of B2C businesses. You need brand ambassadors!
What Is A Brand Ambassador?
In the simplest of terms, brand ambassadors are people who represent your products and can talk about your company in a positive way. Now, up until a few years ago, their ambassadorial role ended at suggesting your company or your products to friends and family, et cetera.
Now, however, in the age of YouTube celebrities, social media stars and a whole new wave of famous people that have more of a sway over their followers than the movie stars and musicians of the past, they can do so much more!
Ideally, you want a brand ambassador to essentially portray the ideal brand identity that he or she is endorsing. They provide trustworthy and credible information to their followers and can easily supply visibility to a brand.
Brand ambassadors can be particularly powerful as a form of social media marketing, and can be a great way to attract hundreds, if not thousands of potential customers to your site. Now, primarily, this will relate to a certain type of retail business, but there are a range of industries which can hugely benefit from a brand ambassador.
Why Do Brand Ambassadors Work?
There are lots of reasons why brand ambassadors can benefit your business and can, in many cases, become invaluable to any overall marketing strategy. Certainly, over the next decade or so, we expect to see brand ambassadors as one of the major weapons in the marketer's arsenal, and here are just a few reasons why:
They Can Humanise Your Brand – People don't really buy from businesses; they buy from people, from personality or because it is the most convenient method of getting a product. Businesses are more commonly known by their brand logos and symbols; certainly, if you showed someone a picture of a McDonald's or the Coca Cola logo then they will instantly know what you are looking for; but the rise of social media gives you the opportunity to do much, much more.
Brand ambassadors are emotionally engaged with your brand in a public fashion. They present, reinforce and reinvigorate your brand's ingrained promise of value. Even though a customer might dislike your brand, if they see someone they know, trust and respect waxing lyrical about your organisation, then they are more likely to be convinced to trial your products out.
If you can positively engage someone with your brand, then they could be the greatest marketing asset, communications tool and salesperson that your business has at its disposal.
The Loyalty Ripple Effect – The LRE suggests that customers can effectively contribute to their satisfaction by their participation in the service delivery process. Loyal customers, in fact, often engage in a form of positive customer behaviour, which is known as “Customer Voluntary Performance".
A very simple example of this is picking up trash, clearing their own tables, or reporting broken lights or messy changing rooms to employees. Obviously, these examples are only really relevant in a physical retail store or restaurant, but there are online equivalents too, such as defending your brand against negative customers, helping other users with your products or explaining how your brand could benefit their lives/solve a problem they have been having. LRE is extremely effective online, across social media and a range of Q&A forums.
Word Of Mouth Positivity – A study, undertaken by Keller Fay's Group, discovered that as many as 66% of all brand conversations are positive, whilst only 8% are negative. Most importantly, the research also discovered that positive word of mouth is much more believable than negative word of mouth.
When people hear something positive about a brand, most people instantly believe it when it comes from someone not directly associated with that brand. In fact, they will still believe so long as any affiliation is actually mentioned beforehand!
They Can Answer The Greater Demand For Information – In the age of communication, it is no surprise that consumers are demanding more and more information about the products that they buy and for reassurance that, in the event of a product malfunction, they will receive outstanding levels of customer care.
In an ideal world, all of your employees would be able to work as brand ambassadors, but for the purposes of your online marketing, and even real-world marketing, just a few key brand ambassadors can really make a difference to your business.
Brand Ambassadors Can Utilise The Viral Nature Of The Internet – Anyone can share anything within their circle of friends thanks to the ever-increasing social nature of the internet. Enlisting brand ambassadors can easily increase perception of your brand across multiple social circles, composed of people who already trust the messenger and who may want the products that you are offering.
People Are More Trusting Of Ambassadors – As brand ambassadors don’t actually work for your brand (at least, not in the traditional sense) they are much more trustworthy in the eyes of your potential customers. Consumer scepticism is always growing about advertising, and trust in traditional forms of marketing continues to erode on a daily basis.
At the same time, mass formats of advertising no longer reach as large a percentage of the population as they once did. This is largely due to the increasing fragmentation of media and the growth of an online community, separate from these more traditional formats, including television, print and radio.
One Nielsen survey discovered that as little as 33% of your customers said that they trusted paid or traditional forms of advertising whilst, in comparison, 92% of those asked said that they trusted peer or unbiased recommendations.
They Are Extremely Cost Effective – You can’t turn your head in the digital marketing world without encountering some kind of research or study on the incredible impact that word-of-mouth can create. And this word of mouth is made all the more enticing when you realise that your brand ambassador can create a massive stir just by being themselves – all for extremely low costs.
Most of them are more than happy to be compensated with perks, discounts, cheap but thought out gifts and many will even do it for free if they have had a hugely positive experience with your brand or your products in the past.
What Are The Two Main Types Of Brand Ambassador?
Essentially, brand ambassadors can be boiled down into two major categories; paid ambassadors and ambassadors who are choosing to advertise your brand of their own accord. Paid Ambassadors – These are an increasingly common appearance in the marketing world.
Thanks to YouTube celebrities, bloggers and vloggers, more and more people are looking to make a living by simply being themselves. By engaging with these “superstars”, and indeed sponsoring them, you can effectively present an ideal brand lifestyle to their followers, and your potential customers, in a way that has never before been possible.
Teaming up with content creators of all kinds can be a great decision, especially if you are selling products that appeal to a niche audience, or even more wider-ranging items likes makeup, healthy food and more. There are always beauty, healthy-living and culinary bloggers and vloggers looking to make money doing what they love and, if they actually do like your brand, then it’s all the better!
Brand Believers – Now, these are the unsung heroes of modern online and social media marketing. People who, either due to high-quality products, great customer service or just because they can see something of themselves in your brand identity, will go out of their way to promote your brand, all for nothing.
Primarily, these people will appear in certain industries including video game, literature, blogging and music industries, but they are also present in every other kind of retail business you can think of. They are the ones who will suggest your products on forums, or tell their friends about you, or post about your products on their social media.
Finding The Right Brand Ambassadors For You!
For paid ambassadors, you need to reach out to them privately; not to try and make it a secret that they are going to be advertising your brand, but to make sure that they are open to the idea of becoming advocates of your brand. For believers, it is often just a matter of keeping an eye on your online reputation, and checking out which names are defending, recommending or repeatedly mentioning your brand identity.
Over the next few years, we wouldn’t be surprised to see more online celebrities, including bloggers and vloggers, to take a more active role in brand marketing, with the potential to draw in a huge crowd of interested customers, looking to trial your products themselves either as a result of a friend’s suggestion or to try and emulate their favourite online celebrities.