What’s the Difference Between a Brand Ambassador and Influencer, and When to use Which

Opinions matter and in today’s digital landscape there’s a whole curated feed of personalities who align with your values and tastes telling you what to buy, where to shop, and what businesses to utilize. And people are listening. Cue brand ambassadors and influencers.

According to the Digital Marketing Institute, 49 per cent of consumers depend on influencer recommendations, 40 per cent have actually purchased a product after seeing an influencer use it on social media, and 72 per cent of customers trust a business more after it is recommended by an influencer.

So it’s not a matter of if you should be using online personalities to promote your brand, but what kind. While both influencers and brand ambassadors seem to hold the same purpose - getting people to buy your product based on their recommendations - but there are some subtle differences between brand ambassadors and influencers that can help your specific marketing effort.

What’s an Influencer?

An influencer is a person with a lot of clout on social media who works with brands to help them promote products or services. They will put your brand into their own style of content; for influencers their personal brand is their business and as such are very particular about how they promote other people’s products.

Influencers have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic so they’re desirable to brands looking to reach a targeted market. Their status has the ability to convince their followers, who trust their voice, to try or buy.

When hiring influencers most business can choose to work with two types:

Macro-influencer – Macro-influencers are people with followers in the 100,000 to millions range. With macro-influencers, a brand is positioned in front of thousands of people, which is great for visibility and awareness. However, this comes with a heftier price tag for posts.

Micro-influencer – The concept of a micro-influencer (defined roughly as someone who has 1,000 to 100,000 followers) is beginning to make a more prominent appearance in digital marketing strategies. These smaller, niche experts connect on a deeper level with their audiences and generate greater engagement. They offer a sense of authenticity – it’s easier to believe the micro-influencer has actually utilized the featured product than the macro-influencer.

Relationships with influencers are often short-term, generating maybe one or two paid posts. Also, they may not use your product or service after the contract has ended.

What’s a Brand Ambassador?

Different from the influencer, brand ambassadors on the other hand are hired for a long-term relationship; they become the “face” of your brand.

Often a brand ambassador is a person who already uses and loves your product/service. This provides a level of authenticity that may not come with influencers. Brand ambassador aren’t trying to push products or opinions because they’re being paid, they are simply sharing why they love a product from their own experiences to inform others about the brand.

Brand ambassador’s roles can also extend beyond just social media. In some cases they can appear at conferences, trade shows, events, to bolster your brand image.

So is a Brand Ambassador or Influencer Better?

Ideally, a combination of both. By having one or two brand ambassadors through a long-term relationship, you are able to grow your brand alongside theirs. However, if you’re launching a fresh product or service, hiring an influencer can help you potentially reach a new audience.

So look at the object of your campaign: Are you wanting to raise awareness about a new product, promote an event or contest? An influencer is probably the route you’d want to take. If you’re looking to raise awareness about your brand, a long-term relationship with a brand ambassador would be a good fit.

Both hold some type of authority or expertise, and as the statistics show, customers will come in because people trust their opinions.

Before Hiring a Brand Ambassador or Influencer

Brand ambassadors and influencers typically will be posting on social media platforms. So it’s important to have your business’s social accounts looking top notch if someone were to search for your brand after seeing the post. Make sure you’re actively posting, double check your business information is correct, and links to your website work.

One other thing to check is how engaged people are on the ambassador/influencer accounts you’re thinking of reaching out to. If they have 400,000 followers but only average 2 comments on a post, that’s a red flag. You want to make sure people value the opinion and brand of the person you reach out to, so be sure to do your research.

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