How to Find the Right Brand Ambassadors and Influencers for Your Brand
In our last influencer and brand ambassador blog post we reviewed the basics of influencer marketing, but here’s a few more questions to ask yourself or your team:
Were you clear in the expectations you set for your ambassadors?
Did you communicate regularly with your ambassadors? Communication early and often about your products, services and sales is critical!
Do your ambassadors use your brand hashtags, and have clear guidelines on you brand style/voice? If not, create a style guide and share it with them when they sign up.
With over two decades of marketing and fundraising experience for athletes, outdoor and adventure lifestyle brands, I’m here to walk you through everything you need to find the right brand ambassadors that will influence your bottom line.
Before we jump in, check out some of the projects we’ve done for our brands and ambassadors.
Start By Identifying The Type of Influencer You are Searching For
Here’s a few different types of ambassadors and influencers you’ll encounter in the influencer marketing wilderness:
Fans & Customers: A simple yet effective form of influencer marketing is converting your customers into fans and your fans into ambassadors. There are lots of ways to do this. You can reach out to individuals who consistently purchase your products and engage on social media, or you can target all of your fans with giveaways or special coupons for sharing. No matter what, the goal is to create a tribe.
Employees: Your employees are likely some of your biggest fans. Leverage this by giving them your products, deep discounts on services, and branded items they wear or display. Have them submit monthly photos or videos to share across your social channels. For example, Mesa Rim Climbing & Fitness, where I coach little kids 2 days a week, takes great care of me as an employee by providing me with apparel, gear and professional development opportunities. They’re also great at engaging with my social posts, and often feature employees’ climbing adventures in their feed!
Micro-influencers: This will be the bread and butter of any influencer marketing campaign. Micro-influencers are often people with less than 25k followers. They can be vloggers, bloggers, YouTubers, Instagram stars, etc. For example, many of the influencers we work with are athletes and adventurers with less that 25K followers, but most of their followers are in the same niche. In addition, because they have smaller, more intimate followings, they have a greater influence over those who follow them. They’re also more likely to engage with their fans by responding to messages or comments giving you more bang for your buck.
Things to Ask Yourself When Shopping Around
Once you have an idea of the right types of ambassadors to look for, you can begin looking at individual influencers. As you do this, you should ask yourself a few more questions:
Do their posts align with your brand? You may find influencers with the right audience, the right reach, and within your budget, but they still may not be optimal for your brand. For example, if your brand highly values community service and giving back, it’s important to find an influencer who does too.
Do they feel authentic? Maybe they are not getting thousands of likes, but they have great engagement and come across as a real person you might be friends with. Another question to ask when considering authenticity is, “Would I buy an item they’re promoting?” Look at their post history to find out.
What is their rate for sponsored posts / ads? If you think an influencer is right for your brand, the next thing to find out is if you can afford them. This is why it’s important to know your budget before reaching out to influencers. If an influencer is out of your price range right now, don’t worry. Build a good relationship with them. Stay in touch, follow their journey, like and comment on their pictures, videos, etc. It works both ways after all.
Steps to Find a Brand Ambassador
If you’re like me, you’re an adventurer. This means you didn’t come here for a good read, you came here for an action plan. You don’t want to look at pretty pictures of mountains. You want to feel the granite on your fingertips.
And just like scaling mountains, there isn’t one route to the peak of an influencer marketing strategy. Depending on your needs, budget, industry, marketing approach, and more, you may take the scenic route or you may be in a hurry to get to the top.
Pay to Play
For those who need a quick and easy solution, use an app or service like Brand Ambassador or BrandSnob. Platforms like these make it easy to find influencers, however costs can add up fast and building authentic relationships with ambassadors in this way can be challenging.
When I saw CardiB’s post below I immediately thought…How much did it cost to create these arrangements and ship them to her? Does Venus Et Fleur have an influencer agreement with CardiB and if so how much did they pay to work with her?
Either way, when CardiB shared this to her network of over 37.5 million followers, you can bet she’s going to increase revenue, especially if these roses do last for a year!
Brands paying for product endorsements is nothing new, but social media has created a whole new world where anyone can rise to fame. If you want to check out the funny, raw, yet stark reality of social media celebrities, The American Meme on Netflix, featuring Paris Hilton, Josh Ostrovsky, aka The Fat Jewish, and Brittany Furlan gives you plenty to think about.
2. The Long and Prosperous Route
At Top Rope Media we think of influencer marketing like backpacking. To get the best results, to see the most beautiful and untouched terrain, you have to plan, prepare, and be willing to walk - a lot!
And ok, the metaphor only goes so far. You don’t have to do any actual walking to create your influencer marketing strategy. But it does take time to find and build relationships with the right influencers.
If you can be patient, and think long-term, you’ll find the investment is worth it when your ambassador is connected with your brand for years to come. Try to think of Michael Jordan without having an image of the Nike swoosh too far away. That’s the power of influencer marketing.
To get results on the ‘Long and Prosperous Route’, here are the steps to take:
Unleash the hounds: Digital hounds that is. Start sniffing around the web by Googling content creators in your space. Where you start your search will depend on what platforms you want to advertise on, but some good places to check out are Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. (Pro Tip: Search for blogs and videos that already mention your brand. These creators are likely fans already, meaning they’ll be much easier to convert into ambassadors).
Hashtag #Winning: Hashtags are a great way to find social media users posting about brands like yours. Because hashtags can get very specific, you can focus on exactly the type content creators you’d like to work with. Not sure what hashtags to search for? Follow some of your competitors and see what types of posts they make (and as a bonus, what types of content creators they use as ambassadors).
Study a trail map: You can think of platforms like Hookit as your trail guide in the influencer marketing world- especially if you want to work with athletes. Hookit allows you see which audiences a content creator is reaching, and how well they’re performing. Be prepared to pay a hefty price for services and apps such as this.
Send up a smoke signal: Once you’ve narrowed your choices down to about a dozen candidates, it’s time to reach out. A personalized message showing you understand the influencer and their audience will be much more effective than a blanket message or email. Before reaching out, have a plan and process in place. Create an agreement for the influencer to sign, even if it’s just a simple one pager. By placing an offer in their hands instead of just saying, “Hey, wanna talk about marketing and stuff?”, you’ll allow them to quickly accept your offer, or open it up to negotiating specifics. Effective influencers get tons of offers, so the easier you make it for them to say yes, the easier it will be for you in the long run.
Rinse and repeat: Once you’ve gotten the first ambassador down it becomes a lot easier to get more. Plus, you’ll have more insight into the types of content your customers crave, meaning you’ll be able to be more specific and selective in who you choose. It’s important not to fall into a rut though. Keep experimenting and testing the boundaries of what works!
Communicate and Evaluate: This is also a reason why you need someone managing your influencer program. They should not only be communicating regularly with your ambassadors on Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram or YouTube, but they should also be looking at the data, running weekly and monthly reports to see who is performing. Applications like Iconosquare and of course Google Analytics can help you understand if the influencer you’re investing both your time and money in is actually converting to sales.
3. Look Within
No ‘look within’ isn’t a Zen quote (ok, maybe it’s that too). But it is an opportunity to find brand ambassadors closer to home than you ever dreamed possible.
That’s right! Brand ambassadors don’t have to be your niche ‘celebrities’, they can be your loyal customer. Here’s a few places to start:
Customer base: Start by looking at your customer base, your social media engagements, and your email subscriber list. Notice someone who buys from you frequently or avidly shares your posts on Facebook? Offer them a coupon or limited time offer in exchange for sharing and leaving a review. Another effective strategy is to offer discounts for referrals.
Analyze the data: Google Analytics and Iconosquare can also help you find potential ambassadors. Maybe your data shows that a well-known blogger loves mentioning and linking to your cycling kits, or an Instagram star won’t stop posting selfies wearing your brand’s stylish new sunglasses, and it’s directing traffic to your website. Either way, drop a thank you DM (direct message), and maybe offer to send them your next design to take out for a test run.
How to Find a Brand Ambassador: Survival Gear
Here’s a recap of some of the tools mentioned in this article and more:
Google: Every influencer on the internet, right at your fingertips.
BrandSnob.co: An easy way to find and hire influencers.
Hookit: A platform to research and track influencer performance.
Facebook Pixels: A tool to track and monitor performance of influencer posts on Facebook.
Google Analytics: Use Google Analytics to track your traffic to find your fans.
Influitive: A software allowing you to easily reward customer referrals.
TINT: Use TINT to easily display moderated streams of content created by your brand ambassadors.
Hootsuite Amplify: Hootsuite Amplify is a software that encourages employee generated content.
Dynamic Signal: Distribute content to employees making it easy for them to share.
Fivestars: Create custom rewards programs to motivate brand loyalty and advocacy.
The First Ambassador and Beyond: Top Rope Media is Here to Help
Whether your brand is looking to turn customers into fans, reach a new audience, or just increase revenue, influencer marketing has a place in your marketing strategy. Ambassadors generate sales, create content, and extend brand awareness, making them an effective and affordable long term strategy. Of course, to maximize success you need to manage them correctly, so make sure to do your homework and know what to expect.
If you need support developing or running an influencer program, contact us today!
We love influencer marketing! In fact, we love it so much, we’ll have more content for you soon. Stay tuned for more tips on:
Where to find a job as a brand ambassador and get paid!
How to be the best brand ambassador and have companies coming to you.
Want more? Read What is a Brand Ambassador and Do I Need One for more great tips and inspiration.