“Like Mike. I wanna be like Mike…”
Do you remember the Gatorade commercials from the 1990s that featured Michael Jordan? Or maybe you remember the Larry Bird vs. Michael Jordan commercials for McDonald’s. Celebrity endorsements are certainly nothing new and they continue to be an important part of the marketing efforts of large, multinational mega corporations.
But the rise of the Internet in general and social media in particular has really changed what the face of an “influencer” really looks like. Mainstream celebrities will always have their place, but bloggers like you and me can get in on this action as “brand ambassadors” too.
What Is a Brand Ambassador?
It’s not exactly a secret anymore that companies of practically all sizes can and do use brand ambassadors to grow their business and to extend their reach. For the most part, they look for the right bloggers, Twitter users, YouTube personalities and Instagram profiles to share their brand message in a natural and authentic way.
More and more companies and organizations are starting to recognize that their message is much more powerful when it is shared by someone other than themselves. This creates a win-win situation for everyone involved, so long as the authenticity is maintained.
Your responsibilities as a brand ambassador (or as a “blog ambassador”) can vary considerably. Some companies might want you to feature their products in your Instagram feed every now and then. Others might want you to blog about them on a regular basis. It’s really up to you to negotiate an arrangement that best works for everyone.
What’s in It for Me?
Again, that depends. You’ll find that the generosity of brands will naturally vary quite widely. In some circumstances, you might not much of anything at all aside from free “swag” in the form of product or service samples. You might get invited to “insider” preview events.
This may not sound like much (and it might not be), but there are ways to leverage this to your advantage. If you’ve never been a brand ambassador before, these opportunities can prove your worth for future partnerships. Any “preview” events and product access can provide great content fodder for your blog and social feeds too. If you’re among the first to review XYZ product, there’s a good chance you’ll get some initial traffic as a result.
Even when some brand ambassador programs don’t offer a direct monetary compensation (though some certainly do and it never hurts to ask), many do offer a number of “perks” that can still provide you with value. The brands may partner with other companies so that you get more product, more services, more invitations to events, more experiences, and so on. They might also feature you on their own site, blog or social channels, expanding your reach too.
But Do You Really Care?
What’s really important here for all parties involved is that you don’t go about looking to be a brand ambassador for just about anyone. It needs to fit with your existing audience and it needs to be something that you actually care about. You don’t need to be passionate, per se, but your enthusiasm and interest should be genuine.
That really comes through in your pictures, writing and other content. Companies want their brand ambassadors to be positive, of course, but they also want them to be genuine, authentic and honest. That’s how they can really capitalize on the humanization of their brand. They want positive word of mouth that’s actually real.
Is It All About the Numbers?
Before you start to worry that you don’t have enough followers on Twitter or you don’t have the traffic numbers on your blog to be of any interest to any company, realize that it’s not just about the numbers. They help, but they’re not everything.
In talking with a friend of mine who works as a PR professional, she said that she’d much rather work with a blogger (or influencer) who has 1,000 really engaged followers than someone who has 10,000 followers with zero engagement. Seek those likes and comments and show that your audience really connects with your content.
And that’s how you can be successful as a brand ambassador. Don’t be afraid to pitch companies that don’t already have a brand ambassador program in place either. You might be surprised by who might say yes.