Over the past year, marketers have been handed a golden opportunity to rethink their marketing strategies. Many have had to recalibrate and reconsider why people respond to brand messages today. How do great brands continue engaging with customers given our now truly digital-first society?
As the world navigated the constant unknown, one thing became clear: Even in a virtual setting, people still craved genuine connection with their brands.
Now is the time to realize that brand ambassadors — the people providing those real brand engagement touchpoints — are the best types of influencers.
Influencer Marketing Isn’t Cutting It, Here’s Why
Consumers, especially younger generations, are avoiding advertising and manufactured brand messages more than ever. These savvy, digital-first purchasers can spot inauthenticity a mile away. And they like to navigate their own experiences, so they aren’t buying what you’re selling. They want straight talk from the real people they trust.
Paid influencers, however effective in the short term, lack this authenticity consumers expect from brands. They generally don’t have a genuine interest in or connection to the organizations they represent; they’re merely seeking a paycheck. Influencer marketing can also pose a host of risks and be very expensive. Tapping a highly influential celebrity for a single post can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The fact is, consumers have become more perceptive — they see through the pay-to-play tactics. They recognize the ‘personal’ recommendations from paid influencers posts for what they really are: the brand advertising they’re dodging. Influencer marketing has caused consumers to stop trusting these “recommendations.” To put it plainly, they’ve tuned them out.
Brand Ambassador Programs Deliver on What Influencer Marketing Can’t
Whether we like it or not, brands aren’t in control of their messages anymore…consumers are. Discussions are increasingly happening in private digital groups, where brands often aren’t allowed. With the diminishing effectiveness of paid advertising (like influencer marketing), ambassadors provide brands with a better way to deliver on the genuine relationships that consumers crave.
As brand advocates, ambassadors define authenticity. And they can provide strong connections to other people through their real narratives and media they create and share for your organization. Their power is sharing personal, word-of-mouth recommendations and telling engaging stories to their friends and followers. And their undeniable love of your brand organically boosts reach, awareness, engagement and revenue in ways paid influencers can’t match.
Having centralized ambassador communications is key to a successful brand ambassador program. Focusing everyone on a single channel or tool that has a mobile app designed for groups (and isn’t email or SMS) keeps communications simple. This way, you can keep conversations shared between marketing team members using the same ‘admin’ alias while keeping individual ambassadors private.
Even better, find a technology where communications and media exchange work together. So ambassadors have a single place to go for media, requests and communications. By making it easier to communicate with your brand advocates (with one place for communication and content sharing), the more your brand ambassador program is set for success.
It’s Time To Go All in on Your Best Influencers: Brand Ambassadors
Still not convinced that brand ambassadors are better than paid influencers?
Here are seven reasons why it’s time to hit pause on your influencer marketing and double-down on your brand ambassador programs.
1. Brand Ambassadors build long-term relationships
Unlike influencers, ambassadors aren’t compensated on a pay-per-transaction model. They develop long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with a brand and have a personal interest in its continued success. These bonds provides organic, authentic endorsements and consumer connections for the long haul that paid influencers simply can’t.
2. Advocates are aligned with your values and already love your brand
Great ambassadors run lockstep with what your brand stands for and support it credibly through the social media they create and share. Paid influencers aren’t close to your organization in this way. And they likely represent many brands — potentially others in conflict with your brand’s values.
3. Brand ambassadors are the best influencers of purchase decisions
Research shows that consumers find authentic content nearly 10x more impactful than influencer content when making a purchasing decision. Ambassadors deliver on media that moves the needle for a brand.
4. You already have brand ambassadors looking to work with you
Ambassadors can come in many forms and are already in your universe. You don’t need to look far to find them, which is often the case with influencers. These close advocates can be celebrities or athletes endorsing your products. Superfans who are your most passionate customers. Creators with large social audiences. Or employees and contractors representing your brand at events.
5. Ambassadors provide an alternative to the diminishing organic reach of owned social channels
As organic reach declines across social platforms, ambassadors provide reach and engagement far beyond owned “official” brand channels. When the brand can’t be part of the discussion, ambassadors can sway consumer opinion like no other marketing toolkit strategy. This includes influencer marketing.
6. Brand ambassadors can help co-create meaningful digital media
Ambassadors create and share their passion for your brand through their original, trustworthy and persuasive social media content. This media helps fill a content void many brands struggle to address. Generic stock photos, expensive advertising shoots, or influencer posts that may feel tired or not conform to brand guidelines don’t work.
7. Ambassadors can reduce your brand’s dependence on paid advertising
As ambassadors support their favorite organizations, their mutually beneficial promotion expands the reach and trust of both of their digital profiles. Why pay for inauthenticity that doesn’t move your customers when authentic content is close at hand?
Make the Most of Your Brand Ambassador Program
Now that you’re ready to go all in on brand ambassador programs, let’s make sure you’re set up for success. Whether you’re starting small or are on your way to a global ambassador program, scaling a program requires software, expertise and continuous learning and optimization. Synchronizing activities, enabling personalization, and continuously focusing on simplifying things for ambassadors will drive increased success.
At Greenfly, we know how effective brand ambassador programs can be. Our customers have grown programs of just a few ambassadors texting back and forth with a single marketer in their spare time. They’ve also scaled programs that harness the power of thousands of ambassadors. This involves a program team, well-defined processes and purpose-built technologies to communicate, create content and distribute digital media.
It’s Time To Prioritize Your Brand Ambassador Program
Get the insights you need to bring it to the next level — and benefit from more authentic content and endorsements from the people who love to love your brand.