Influencers vs. Ambassadors: Why Choose One?

With the digital interconnectivity of our culture constantly evolving, and consumer trust in traditional advertising rapidly dropping, word of mouth marketing has emerged as one of the most reliable and cost effective ways for a brand to connect with their consumers. Because the results are so dependable, brands have turned to influencer and ambassador community marketing to enhance their word of mouth marketing strategy and reduce cost of acquisition. 

Although there are many different forms of word of mouth marketing, it is important to understand the value that influencers and ambassadors provide and how, when used together strategically, they can drive awareness, significantly increase organic conversions, and strengthen overall loyalty for the brand.  

But first, what’s the difference between influencers and ambassadors?

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a fairly straightforward system. As current as it sounds, it’s not too different from traditional advertising. A company pays an influencer  to make a post about their product. Influencers are generally defined as having a large social following that is connected to the “personality” of the influencer on one or many digital channels.

If influencers are selected properly by the brand, the influencer’s audience will be exposed to the product. This strategy has been proven to be extremely fruitful especially for product launch where awareness is the main KPI, as this form of marketing is able to quickly generate widespread, mainstream knowledge of a product.

The partnerships that Influencers make with brands are often social only and campaign based, meaning they are short term and only require the influencers to make 1-2 pieces of content. Influencers are motivated by continuing to grow and expand their own brand and audience so they want to carefully select brands that their audience will connect with and that will enhance their personal image. By working with as many different brands as they can, they’re able to quickly create a level of widespread awareness that can be difficult for a single brand emulate on their own. 

A 2019 Edelman report shows that 63% of consumers trust what influencers have to say about products “much more” than what brands say about themselves, which truly demonstrates how consumers’ opinion of traditional advertising is shifting; however, the main issue plaguing influencer marketing is oversaturation and fraud. In short, everyone wants to be an influencer in 2020, but not everyone with high follower counts has the legitimate influence to make it a worthy investment for the brand. 

Fortunately, new standards of business have been set to combat and avoid this issue, but brands should still keep this in mind and monitor influencers they are working with in order to see a positive ROI for their social strategy. With this in mind, brands should continue to utilize a curated group of influencers to promote their products, due to the “top of the funnel” awareness that they are proven to be able to generate. 

Ambassadors and Community Marketing

While influencers are able to generate awareness about a brand’s product very quickly, Brand Ambassadors are able to generate actual conversions and keep the conversation about your brand going. According to a report from Nielson, 92% of consumers trust a recommendation from a peer, friend, or family member more than they trust a recommendation from a brand. 

Ambassadors are passionate about the brand they represent, and are motivated to put the products they love into the hands of the people they love. They serve as advocates, driving growth organically on and offline. This enables brands to build and strengthen trust through their ambassadors, who bring a more genuine and effective angle to widespread word of mouth marketing. 

A high follower count can be very valuable, but the relationship between the consumer and the brand becomes much more authentic when ambassadors are creating a conversation about the brand with their friends. Ambassadors want to help their friends and know who will connect with the brand and how they want to hear about it. 

This is because ambassadors are often customers whose lives have been positively impacted by the brand, so the connection they have isone of trust and loyalty. Although the content they create may not be as “professional”, their friends will be drawn for the passion they have for the brand versus with influencers where the audience is connecting with the passion they have for the influencer’s brand. The relationship will last beyond 1-2 posts and even when the “contract’ is over, there is a mutual ROI. The ambassador will feel they have helped your brand grow and will take that feeling with them even when they aren’t formally connected to the brand.

Influencers + Ambassadors 

Together, influencers and ambassadors can help brands more effectively achieve awareness, conversion, and loyalty goals. When launching a new product, brands can use influencers to support the campaign and introduce it to a broad audience of potential customers. Once the product has launched, brands can then engage their ambassadors to sustain the conversation, generate even more buzz, and create more user generated content around the product. 

This pairing of influencer personalities and ambassadors’ genuine passion for a brand, activated across multiple channels, enables brands to harness the power of word of mouth and deepen relationships with their brand community. In order to achieve this at the fullest potential, brands should be using influencers and ambassadors together to maximize awareness and build greater consumer trust. 

Using influencers and ambassadors together is also a great way to enhance your brand’s content strategy. With the content that both groups are creating around your brand, whether through a specific campaign or a product review, marketing teams will gain access to an entire factory of user generated content. 

Why Choose One?

Both influencers and brand ambassadors have substantial value in today’s marketing landscape. Their ability to significantly impact the way that new and existing customers view and interact with brands can drive awareness and loyalty that other forms of advertising can’t truly replicate. Although they each project different messages from the brand to the consumer, they are both proven to be thoroughly effective forms of marketing. Through the online communities that they can create, and the direct and targeted message that they engage in, influencers and ambassadors are able to help brands achieve far-reaching brand awareness while forming a genuine relationship between brands and consumers.

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