Paid ads are becoming extremely expensive and are not a great way to retain customers and build a long-term community. Thus, growing through word of mouth on social media is extremely important for an early stage D2C brand and often results in long-term organic growth.
However, for a layperson, ambassadors and influencers mean the same thing - someone who promotes your brand to their followers on social media for compensation, a discount, or both. But this couldn’t be further from the truth!
Influencers (micro and above) typically are not associated with the brand on a day to day and long-term basis and typically charge a lot of money per post. Moreover, influencers may have a lot of followers but oftentimes those followers are not engaged which leads to poor results for the brand.
Brand ambassadors on the other hand, are your community!
Benefits of brand ambassadors
Brand ambassadors have the following characteristics:
- They are typically nano-influencers (100-10k followers)
- They love creating content and have a very engaged following
- But most importantly, THEY ALREADY KNOW AND LOVE YOUR BRAND!
Brand ambassadors are a great way to grow your brand through word of mouth and help you generate tons of user-generated content, in a very affordable and mutually beneficial way! For example, a brand ambassador may take photos or videos of the product and highlight it on their Instagram account and tag the brand, which would ensure that all of their engaged followers see the content and the brand stands to benefit tremendously as it now could get more potential customers.
Here are just some benefits of "ambassador marketing":
Brand ambassadors create posts, reels and stories on social media of themselves using the product and thus generate user-generated content in a scalable and cost-effective way.
2. Word of mouth and organic growth
Since many of these brand ambassadors have a following and presence on social media, they help the brand reach more prospective customers through word of mouth, organically! This is a great way for brands to grow over the long term.
3. Brand awareness
Brand ambassadors can help early stage brands generate a ton of brand awareness on social media in a cost-effective way through their posts and content creation. Even mid to later stage brands can benefit from this as trends change which may mean that the brand needs to up the ante and raise awareness to appeal to a new market.
This one is a no-brainer but brand ambassadors can often help generate sales as their followers are engaged and trust their recommendations quite a bit.
5. Product Feedback
Brand ambassadors can provide the brand with a ton of product feedback as they use the product themselves and are also connected to their followers who give them unbiased and authentic feedback about the brand's product.
6. Early Adopters
Finally, brand ambassadors can also act as early adopters and use the brand's upcoming or newly launched product before it is rolled out to the wider customer base. Brands can estimate how their customers would feel about the product by leveraging the feedback of brand ambassadors, and thus make any changes as required.
Thus, with ambassador marketing, D2C brands partner with individuals or small groups who have a large following on social media, particularly Instagram, to promote their products. These individuals, known as ambassadors, often receive free products or discounts in exchange for promoting the company's products to their followers.
Ambassador Marketing Examples
Here are a few examples of D2C ambassador marketing campaigns on Instagram:
Glossier: Glossier, a popular skincare and beauty brand, partners with a group of Instagram brand ambassadors known as the "Glossier Squad" to promote their products. The squad members regularly post about Glossier products on their Instagram accounts and offer discounts to their followers.
Casper: Casper, a mattress company, partners with a variety of Instagram brand ambassadors to promote their products. These ambassadors often post pictures of themselves sleeping on a Casper mattress and include a discount code for their followers to use when making a purchase.
ThirdLove: ThirdLove, a lingerie company, partners with Instagram ambassadors to promote their products. These influencers often post pictures of themselves wearing ThirdLove lingerie and include a discount code for their followers to use when making a purchase.
Trtl: Trtl, a company that sells travel pillows, partners with Instagram brand ambassadors to promote their products. These ambassadors often post pictures of themselves using a Trtl pillow on a plane and include a discount code for their followers to use when making a purchase.
Drunk Elephant: Drunk Elephant, a skincare company, partners with brand ambassadors to promote their products. These influencers often post pictures of themselves using Drunk Elephant products and include a discount code for their followers to use when making a purchase.
Here’s a summary of the differences between brand ambassadors and influencers:
❌ Influencers are engaged with your brand for the short-term
✅ Ambassadors are your "community" (in it for the long-term)
❌ Influencers have low brand affinity
✅ Ambassadors love your brand
❌ Influencers are super expensive $$$
✅ Ambassadors often accept product discounts and other community "perks"
❌ Influencers have low engagement and high # of followers
✅ Ambassadors have a small following (nano-influencers) but very high engagement
You can use our product Casa (https://casaugc.com) to grow your brand ambassador community. With Casa, you can track Instagram content (including posts, reels and stories), manage your brand ambassadors, and create campaigns to grow user-generated content and brand awareness, thereby increasing sales.