As influencer marketing has matured, most brands now recognize the importance of building long-term relationships, rather than running one-off campaigns. In fact, I often find that when brands do not see the results they expected, it’s because of this “campaign mindset.” They look for results from the post, rather than the influencer. If you approach influencer marketing in the same way that you do advertising, you can expect no better results than you receive from ads.
The real value of influencer marketing is the opportunity to develop relationships with influencers who “speak” to your target audience as a peer, not a publication. This dynamic is what inspires followers to become shoppers; if you’ve targeted the right audience, the right types of brand ambassadors inspire shoppers to become loyal customers. The most successful brands strive to convert their top-performing influencers into brand ambassadors, which allows for more creative collaboration and a greater personal investment in the brand on the part of the influencer.
By making brand ambassadors part of your influencer marketing strategy, you gain the benefit of repeat exposure, a more credible endorsement, and consistent brand messaging, all of which can help you increase sales and see a greater ROI on your efforts. To identify the best influencers to convert into brand ambassadors, i recommend looking at the following 8 key factors:
- Audience fit. Does the influencer reach your target demographic?
Strong alignment between an influencer’s audience and your own target audience is crucial to the success of any influencer marketing campaign, but it’s especially important for brand ambassadorships. When you’re making a long-term investment in an influencer, you don’t want to find out a year into the relationship that their audience isn’t what you expected.
We recommend assessing the Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Insights of any influencer you’re considering before engaging them as a brand ambassador. When you can see a blogger’s actual versus potential reach, and the breakdown of their demographics, you can better predict which influencers will perform best for your brand. A blogger might have a million followers, but if 75% of her audience is male, she isn’t likely to help you sell your summer collection. On the other hand, if you’re a menswear fashion label, that influencer might be a perfect fit for your objective. I encourage all our bloggers to connect their Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Insights to their Shopping Links profile so you can review and evaluate this information when deciding which influencers to engage.
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- Brand fit. Does the influencer understand your aesthetic?
If your goal is general brand awareness, you may not care if a blogger’s personal aesthetic isn’t in total alignment with your brand’s, as long as they have the right audience. But when you’re looking for brand ambassadors, content alignment matters quite a lot. An influencer’s ability to “spread the word” is only one benefit of the relationship. The opportunity to use their content in your EDMs/Newsletters, social campaigns and other marketing efforts is just as important. You want to engage bloggers who can create content that fits your brand’s tone and personality.
- Personal affinity. Does the influencer already use and champion your brand?
A brand ambassador’s job is to be the “face” of your company over a period of time. Ideally, you want brand champions who have a postitive impression of your brand and products. Consumers can tell when a blogger is “phoning it in.” When you engage influencers who aren’t fully invested in your brand, you also miss out on potential feedback and a lot of organic posts. A good brand ambassador will demonstrate interest beyond the “job description” and welcome conversations about how to improve their content. Ambassadors with brand-first mindset will help you boost sales and strengthen customer loyalty even more than mega-influencers with impressive audiences.
- Ability to influence. Can the influencer inspire action?
Most influencers can give you a wide reach, but as you may have found, visibility doesn’t always translate into engagement or conversion into sales. When you’re looking for brand ambassadors, you want influencers who can not only reach the right followers, but can also inspire those followers to click through to the ecommerce site and buy. This is where testing becomes incredibly important. We recommend gifting as a low-risk, highly scalable way to test the viability of potential brand ambassadors before you secure them for a long term paid collaboration. Our Product Seeding collaboration type allows brands to cost-effectively gift several influencers at once, then track results by influencer over three months. This allows marketing managers to see which influencers are likely to generate the greatest interest and convert the most followers into shoppers.
Interested? Launch an influencer gifting campaign today for less than $90 per influencer. Click here to get started.
- Communication. Does the influencer ask questions and clarify instructions?
Brand ambassador programs work best when the relationship is a two-way street. Collaboration briefs aren’t always perfectly clear, and when you’re running a busy marketing department, it can be easy to forget that an influencer may not have all the information your team do. Good ambassadors will follow up to clarify ambiguous direction rather than making a guess, and seek to understand your company’s goals, and not just your campaign requirements. You also want influencers who can communicate campaign progress, alert you promptly of any timeline changes and respond quickly when you need to get in touch.
- Professional mindset. Does the influencer respect deadlines without reminders?
This point builds on good communication, but adds the factor of trust and maturity. When you’re managing brand ambassadors remotely, you need to know that they will perform without micro-management. Can you rely on your ambassador to follow your agreed-upon calendar and post on deadline without follow-up from your staff? Can you trust them to include your hashtags, Instagram handles, website links and disclosure? A creative mind and perfect brand alignment is only half the battle when you’re engaging an influencer to represent your brand. You also want to be sure that the campaign will progress without heavy management and content checking from your team.
- Good “AQ.” Can the influencer adapt and improve their content?
As social media and modern marketing methods evolve, “AQ,” or Adaptability Quotient, has become as important as IQ. The world of social media and digital marketing moves quickly. You don’t always know what types of content will work best, and it’s important to find brand ambassadors who can embrace change, respond to data, and adapt. You want an ambassador who isn’t afraid to try new platforms, whether it’s Instagram Stories, Facebook Live or podcasts. Your campaigns will evolve and grow, and ambassador programs work best when you engage bloggers who can grow with you.
- Trust. Will the influencer consistently represent your brand in a way that supports your values and reputation?
You need look no further than disgraced YouTube star Pew Die Pie to recognise that trust is critical to successful influencer ambassadorships. You don’t just want ambassadors who can fulfill campaign requirements; you also need to know that they will represent your brand in a way that supports your mission. You also don’t want to discover that your ambassador has bought followers or posted content that runs counter to your brand values. Using Google Analytics and Instagram Insights can help you identify the right brand ambassadors for your company and verify their authenticity.
When it comes to influencer marketing, more and more brands are realizing that long-term relationships provide the best results. Inviting your top-performing influencers to become brand ambassadors allows for more creative collaborations between your brand and the influencer, greater mindshare through repetition, and a stronger endorsement, especially when you select influencers who are champions of your brand. These 8 factors can help you identify those influencers best suited to become your brand ambassadors.