How To Build Your Brand Ambassador Program

March 23rd, 2017 | Jonathan Davids, Founder and CEO, Influicity

Jonathan Davids
Jonathan Davids

A YouTube user you’ve never heard of may be the perfect pitch person for your brand. Just ask Jonathan Davids, founder of Influicity, a platform that advertisers can use to source, collaborate and run campaigns with social influencers. Just what is an influencer, you ask? They run the gamut from a 20-something who makes DIY-themed videos and has 3 million YouTube followers to a comedian with a large following on Vine right up to an A-list Hollywood celebrity. The key is their followings look to them, rather than brands, to help inform their purchasing decisions.

In this article, re-published below with Davids’ permission, he takes a look at the growing use of influencers as brand ambassadors and provides 4 best-practices for ambassador programs.

Revlon made some news recently, adding to its growing slate of high profile ambassadors. Until recently, this slate included traditional celebs and beauty gurus. The company has now added a Disney star and several YouTubers, who will be promoting Revlon products across social and traditional media. What do these new additions have in common? They have big social media audiences.

This type of brand ambassador arrangement is along the lines of what another beauty brand, L’Oréal, did last year with L’Oréal League. And we are seeing dozens of clients do this across Influicity.

Increasingly more brands are building their ambassador programs, and filling the ranks with influencers who bring expertise, content, and a coveted audience. Let’s explore the best practices and advantages related to using influencers as brand ambassadors.

Budget Friendly And Measurable ROI

One of the most common pain points is that influencers are costing brands ever-more money. Not to say that ambassadors will work for free (although that does happen,) but an ambassador program is more budget-friendly because the deals are not transactional. So the ROI is measured over a longer period of time.

The brand is typically establishing a partnership that will last a year or more. The influencers receive product regularly and are more likely to use it in their daily routines. As with any partnership, both sides are willing to go the extra mile to nurture the relationship, and collaborate in creative ways.

We’ve seen ambassador programs get better over time, with a steadily increasing ROI.

Exclusivity Not Required

Exclusivity is a negotiation point that tends to be very sticky for both sides on influencer programs. Notably, the Revlon influencers are not exclusive to Revlon.

In fact, most influencer ambassadors are not exclusive to one brand. While that may turn some advertisers off, it’s usually not a big issue in practice.

The reason is that since the ambassadors tie their public persona to a specific product, their audience will associate them accordingly. And a competing brand is less likely to try working with them for a one-off project. In fact, when this does happen, the audience may respond by asking why the influencer has changed their brand preference — all the better!

Certainly, if your ambassador does jump ship, not to worry — that takes us to our next point.

Keep it fresh

An ambassador network must be tweaked monthly or quarterly as new influencers come onto the scene. In the range of 10K subscribers and up, there are hundreds or thousands of new influencers to find every month, depending on the category.

We recommend adding 5-10 new influencers a month, to keep up with normal churn, although that number can change dramatically depending on the size of your network.

Amplify, Amplify, Amplify

Of course, all the great content produced by your ambassadors must be leveraged, so make sure you have a well thought-out amplification strategy. That could mean promoting the content on your social channels, using the content in your paid advertising, or even building programs around your top performing ambassadors.

Jonathan Davids is the Founder & CEO of Influicity, a platform used by advertisers to source, collaborate, and run campaigns with social influencers, ranging from YouTube stars, to Hollywood celebrities, and everything in between. Follow him on Instagram @jon_davids and Twitter @jonathandavids.

The video recording and slides from David’s ACA webinar, “How Social Influencers Are Transforming Media As We Know It” are available to ACA Members (login required).