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Why Brand Ambassadors Could Be Your Best Marketing Strategy

Jennifer Dublino
Jennifer Dublino
business.com Contributing Writer
Updated Sep 27, 2022

Employees can become a low-cost, high-reward marketing asset.

Most businesses understand the importance of crafting a brand identity, creating content, and developing advertising and social media marketing strategies. However, many haven’t realized the value a brand ambassador strategy can add to their marketing plan. Brand ambassadors promote a brand’s products and services to boost awareness, strengthen a company’s reputation, and increase revenue.

Brand ambassadors are low-cost or no-cost investments that can pay high dividends. And using employees as brand ambassadors creates an in-house team with social reach and genuine enthusiasm. 

We’ll explore brand ambassadorship, why employees make excellent ambassadors, and how to get started with your brand ambassador strategy.

What is a brand ambassador?

Brand ambassadors are advocates who promote a brand to people who are in their online and offline networks. Brand ambassadors frequently use social media to boost a brand’s visibility, generate more sales leads, and increase sales

Brand ambassadors are often confused with social media influencers, who are usually celebrities or people with instant name recognition. While brand ambassadors are a type of influencer marketing, they don’t have to be famous; they can include your customers and employees. 

Why do employees make great brand ambassadors?

When you have an excellent brand, products and services, your customers are likely excited to promote your company organically. Businesses often reach out to happy customers and get them involved. 

When your company has a fantastic work environment to go along with its excellent products and services, your employees may also be an untapped source of brand ambassadors eager to amplify your efforts and boost digital marketing ROI.

Here are three reasons why employees make great brand ambassadors. 

1. Employee brand ambassadors increase social reach.

The most obvious benefit of employee brand ambassadors – also called employee advocacy – is boosting your company’s social reach. Research from ReferralCandy showed that 86% of consumers trust recommendations from friends, family and colleagues over other forms of marketing.

Your employees’ word-of-mouth recommendations online and offline will resonate powerfully with their friends, family and followers, and their genuine enthusiasm will help instill confidence in your company. 

Whether you have 10, 100, or 1,000 employees, you’ll have additional voices out there advocating for your company, sharing content and posting jobs, organically extending and amplifying your other marketing efforts. 

2. Employee brand ambassadors boost leads and lead quality.

According to LinkedIn’s employee advocacy guide, employees’ follower bases are 10 times as large as the company’s. When employees share a post, it’s considered three times more authentic – and sees click-through rates two times higher – than if the company shared the same content. And while only about 3% of employees share content about their companies, the content they share increases engagement by 30%. 

Further, socially engaged companies are 57% more likely to see an increase in sales leads, and sales teams are more likely to successfully convert leads gathered via employee brand advocates. 

Employee ambassadors are a valuable way to reach wider audiences while increasing lead quantity and quality. When employees promote your product, their familiarity and knowledge give them credibility. Additionally, enthusiastic, engaged employees signal a happy workplace and a company that treats its employees well, boosting the company’s reputation, respect and trust. 

TipTip: To improve employee engagement and spot potential brand ambassadors, conduct employee surveys to see how they feel about the company and its products and services.

3. Employee ambassadors reduce paid advertising spend.

Employee ambassadors are much less expensive than traditional paid advertising channels like Google Ads and Instagram advertising. While many other marketing and advertising channels are worthwhile, employee advocates can reduce your overall advertising spend while allowing you to reach warmer leads that are more familiar with your brand. 

Brand ambassadors promote trust and have a far greater reach than many traditional advertising outlets. While you shouldn’t abandon your other advertising efforts, employee brand ambassadors allow you to focus less on those channels and save money. Paid advertising can complement your brand ambassadors’ reach rather than being the star of the show.

Did you know?Did you know? Brands should be on the lookout for influencer marketing fraud. Some individuals may inflate their follower count or misrepresent themselves to get free products.

How to start working with brand ambassadors

When you’re ready to start a brand ambassador program with employees, customers, influencers and other stakeholders, follow these steps. 

  1. Decide on your brand ambassador program’s goals. Most brand ambassador programs focus on brand awareness. If brand awareness is your goal, you should evaluate your program’s success by tracking mentions, hashtag use and follower growth. If your goal is to increase sales, you can track success via specialized links or coupon codes. Other goals may include gaining contest entries or getting people to subscribe to your blog or newsletter. 
  2. Determine a way to reward ambassadors. While a brand ambassador program is a low-cost strategy, your ambassadors would appreciate some reward, so decide ahead of time what that reward will be. Employee ambassadors may appreciate fringe benefits like vacation days and bonuses. Other ambassadors may enjoy purchase discounts and access to exclusive content. Everyone will welcome rewards like recognition, event access, parties and more. 
  3. Create brand ambassador guidelines and policies. Guidance will foster more consistent and higher-quality promotions from your brand ambassadors. Don’t micromanage them; instead, prepare hashtags and tell them about the products and events you want to promote. Give them timelines and access to a password-protected web page where they can download product pictures, logos, video content and other images for their posts. Let them know what isn’t acceptable, such as foul language, trashing competitive products, dishonesty and so on.
  4. Identify potential brand ambassadors among your employees. Find happy, engaged employees to serve as possible brand ambassadors. Potential brand ambassadors should also use and enjoy your products or services. To increase the pool of potential brand ambassadors, give employees free product samples and future discounts. For example, some cruise lines give employees a free family cruise to help them become familiar with and enthusiastic about the product. 
  5. Look for potential brand ambassadors among your customers. The best customer everyonesociabrand ambassadors are usually long-time customers who love your products and already engage with the company. Ideally, they’re active on social media with excellent follower counts and have mentioned the company favorably in previous posts. 
  6. Invite people to be brand ambassadors. Once you’ve narrowed your list of potential ambassadors, invite them to join the program. Explain the program, what their duties are, and how you’ll reward them. Enroll those who accept and start following their social media accounts. 
  7. Communicate with your ambassadors. Once your brand ambassador program begins, communicate regularly with your ambassadors. Gather their ideas and any follower feedback. Reiterate your expectations and timeframes, and recognize those who are doing well. Repost some of your ambassadors’ posts on your company social accounts.
  8. Track your progress. Track your results to determine your program’s effectiveness. Reserve unique hashtags and links for the ambassador program to track results more easily. Look at your website traffic sources to see if there’s an uptick from specific social media platforms. Monitor each ambassador’s social media accounts to see mentions, shares, and other actions. If you notice a successful contest or promotion, create similar offerings. Abandon efforts that don’t get much traction. 

TipTip: Use brand ambassador software like Refersion, EveryoneSocial or Brandbassador to manage the program effortlessly.

Adding brand ambassadors to your marketing strategy

Brand ambassadors are a valuable addition to your marketing strategy. As social media’s power grows stronger, it makes sense to encourage the people who value your brand to drive important conversations online. Your brand ambassadors can improve your bottom line while also improving social recruiting, brand searches and organic PR. 

Todd Kunsman contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. 

Image Credit: bunditinay / Getty Images
Jennifer Dublino
Jennifer Dublino
business.com Contributing Writer
Jennifer Dublino is a prolific researcher, writer, and editor, specializing in topical, engaging, and informative content. She has written numerous e-books, slideshows, websites, landing pages, sales pages, email campaigns, blog posts, press releases and thought leadership articles. Topics include consumer financial services, home buying and finance, general business topics, health and wellness, neuroscience and neuromarketing, and B2B industrial products.