There is no denying the endless ways that social media has transformed our world. It has broken down barriers for communication, and has changed the way businesses grow and connect with their customers.
With the rise of social media has come influencer marketing. Influencer marketing uses key opinion leaders on social media to tell a brand’s story, spread awareness and increase sales. Influencers are not a new concept; brands have been using celebrities for years to endorse their products. However, now, social media influencers represent a whole new type of celebrity; one who is relatable and connected with their audience and surpass the influence of the traditional celebrity.
Evolving the Influencer Marketing Industry
Endorsements live through authenticity. One particularly effective way of evolving brand endorsements is to connect a social media influencer with a brand over a longer period of time, creating an ambassadorship. Influencers want to engage on a more personal level with brands they are passionate about and continue to grow their personal connection with their audience. Ambassadorships provide just this.
During the ambassadorship, the influencers embody the brand and its campaigns by becoming their spokesperson.
The Benefits of Brand Ambassadors
The marketing approach of long-term partnerships is shaping the way brands build relationships with their audiences. People are more likely to buy from real people, therefore finding an influencer whose values represent your brand is vital for successful campaign performance.
Ambassadorships are bi-directional; the positive recognition of influencers in their community positively reflects on the brand and gives the brand original content for their marketing purposes. Not only this, but the influencer also benefits from multiple opportunities for content creation. The repeated promotion and exposure of a brand further elevates the impact of a campaign.
Why do Brand Ambassadorships Work?
An influencer's Instagram page shows their digital identity, which influences their audiences' decisions and makes multiple postings on their feed prime real estate for brands. However, when an influencer endorses multiple competing brands in too short a timespan, it hurts the credibility of both the influencer and brand they are working with. Ambassadorships allow brands to maximise their exclusivity with an influencer without worrying if they will work with a competitor in the near future.
Brand Ambassadors in Practice
Influencers who are engaging with their followers through comment replies, gift giveaways, shoutouts, and likes, have successfully cultivated a strong relationship with their followers prove to make successful brand ambassadors. In 2016, Pantene named Chiara Ferragni their global ambassador, a designer and the blogger behind “The Blonde Salad”. For nearly two years, Ferragni graced television commercials for the brand in Italy, Spain, and Portugal. She shared her Pantene campaigns on her personal social media channels, furthering the reach and frequency of exposure of the campaigns. As the leading Italian influencer on Instagram, Ferragni boasts over 12.6 million Instagram followers, making her ability to elevate brand awareness and drive sales simply unparalleled. Her long-term partnership with Pantene has created a strong, unmistakeable affiliation between the haircare brand and the formidable influencer.
Brands take partnerships a step further by incorporating their ambassadors into product lines. Consumers are more excited about products when an influencer they admire has planned the products they're endorsing. Their personal touch in designing the product compels audiences to purchase due to the exclusivity of the items. The effects of collaborations have a lasting impact; consumers are quick to purchase not only products from the collaboration but other products from the brand. A notable example of this includes Arielle Noa Charnas of Something Navy for her capsule collection with Treasure & Bond. She designed the full collection, which was exclusively sold at Nordstrom and promoted it on her Instagram, where she has a following of over 1.1 million users. The campaign reportedly brought in more than $1 million in sales in less than 24 hours. Popular items were quick to sell-out and even lead to a secondary marketplace with significant markups due to high demand for the collection. Nordstrom estimates sales for the restock of the capsule collection to be between $3 million and $5 million this season.
Influencer Marketing: Moving Forward
The rise of ambassadorships generates new pathways into reaching and retaining consumers. When a high-profile influencers’ name becomes synonymous with a brand, the likelihood of increased sales for particular items or collections, increases. The chances of a successful campaign grows when an influencer has personally helped develop or create the product. Looking towards the future of influencer marketing, we see a growing trend of brands partnering with influencers to create ambassador programs more and more frequently.