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I get asked about brand ambassadorships so much, so it seemed like a great subject for a podcast. The thing is, brand ambassadors can get a hard time… and sometimes quite rightly. I’ve worked with a number of people who take their role really seriously and do an amazing job, and others who don’t. Working with someone, even ‘just’ on a brand ambassador level costs the company money. Money that could be spent elsewhere. So it’s really important to make sure that you as a business invest your budget in the right way. Equally, from an ambassador point of view, you want to make sure you’re connected to the right brands, or else your personal brand takes and beating… and you lose that reputation you’ve worked so hard to build.

So, in this episode, I’m going to talk about this subject from two sides. From the brands seeking to work with the right people, to influencers looking to work with the right brands. Yes, brands, you need to pick carefully, but in a time where personal brands have never been stronger, influencers need to be really picky too!

Let’s talk about brand ambassadors – how to pick the right ones for your brand… and how to decide, as an influencer, which brands you want to be an ambassador for.

Show notes for the Small & Supercharged Podcast – Episode 16 – Brand ambassadors 101 with me, Rhea Freeman. In this episode we talk about brand ambassadorships from both sides of the coin. Whether you’re a brand looking for the right people to work with, or an influencer who is looking to work with more brands, this episode for you. In this episode you’ll hear…

  • What a brand ambassador is, how it came to be a term… and how social media, in my mind, is a key part.
  • Why brand ambassadors don’t need to be high performing athletes as per sponsored riders or sponsored sportspeople (depending on your industry!), but how they can be ‘normal’ people who are excelling on social media.
  • How sponsorship and brand ambassadorship differs, and how sponsorship used to work before the rise of ambassadors.
  • That you don’t have to work with sponsored riders or ambassadors… and why I believe this.
  • Why the numbers aren’t everything – how engagement matters. Whether you’re a brand looking for influencers, or you’re an influencer trying to appeal to key brands.
  • How as an influencer you can be really valuable to a brand, even if you have a modest following.
  • Why it’s important to be genuine and honest with your following if you’re being paid, have products gifted, or something else.
  • How using hashtags like #ad and #gifted aren’t a negative if you’re assessing an influencer. However, if the post doesn’t fit the feed and they’ve just done it for the money, then it is.
  • Why you need to look at the person as well as the following… are they the kind of person your target market can relate to? Or are their worlds miles apart?
  • We go through a mini ambassador checklist and things to look for and assess over time before making an approach.
  • We talk about how to start small and test the water with potential ambassadors. And how you can get the most out of the influencers you do decide to work with (and how you should allow them to create the best content for their audience). And how this will help you in the long run.
  • The importance of a potential ambassador having a genuine affinity to the brand. You want to know them and see that they really do love the brand.
  • From an brand ambassador’s point of view, we talk about why it’s important to find a good fit for YOU. You don’t need to appeal to everyone.
  • Why it’s important to respect you audience at all times. As in influencer, you have a personal brand, and your following have invested their time and energy in you. You need to respect that.
  • The importance of sitting back and learning about brands before you agree to be an ambassador.
  • Why saying yes to one things means you’re saying no to something else, so make sure you say yes to the right things.
  • The importance of gut feeling. You might not be able to explain it but if you have that niggle, watch a bit longer. You’re in no rush.

And that’s this episode. I hope you enjoyed it!


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If you liked this podcast, you might like these blogs too:

When you should say yes to being a brand ambassador

What you should look for in a brand ambassador?

Could you be a brand ambassador?

what should you look for in a brand ambassadorWhat should you look for in a brand ambassador? Many, many companies are now appointing people to be ambassadors for their brand… and what is required varies enormously too. Your requirements and your expectations will, of course, influence what you should look for in a brand ambassador. Don’t discount these at all. However, to give you a bit of help, I decided to do a little research for you. I asked my Small & Supercharged group on Facebook what they look for in a brand ambassador. As this group is bursting with small business owners, many of whom use brand ambassadors to help promote their brand, I thought it was a good place to ask.

Now, you don’t have to look for the same things in a brand ambassador, far from you – you do you. Consider what you need, your brand, your expectations, your demographic and your strategy. Here are just a few ideas you might like to pick up, kindly provided by people over in my fab group…

The question I asked was: ‘what do you look for in a brand ambassador?’

Amy GriffithsAmy Griffiths Photography/Hoofprints – someone easily likeable both in real life and social media. To both me as a brand and also other people. Everything else can be discussed/worked upon but likeability isn’t something a person can change very easily! The other obvious thing is it has to be someone who uses my product or service.

Katie MortimoreKatie Mortimore Photography – Authenticity! Too many relationships are about money and not about a product on both sides.

Danielle HolmesBlack Nova Designs –  I think they have to be interested in what you offer, anyone can be a brand ambassador but if they don’t know what you do or why then promoting isn’t going to be easy.

Lydia DuceLD Equestrian – High quality content, I think it is hard to find this now with so many new bloggers/vloggers and influencers.

Sarah SJ JohnstoneApt Cavalier – Personality- my three ambassadors are all really likeable, hilarious and genuinely fun to be around. I think it’s important for that to shine through in photo shoots, social media posts etc. They all have fierce passion for the sport, which is really important to me as an “Eventing Brand”, not just a fashion brand.

Emily GaileyEquus Photo – Authenticity and being a genuinely nice person. I am such good friends with my brand ambassadors, we all hang out, we help each other out with our horses and they seem to genuinely love working with me. I think people can see that it’s a proper relationship instead of them just working with me for free stuff…which in turn makes potential clients more interested.

Emma-Jayne RothwellWoof Wear– Personality. Oodles and oodles of it. You’ll be ‘the face’ of the brand meeting people you wouldn’t normally meet or converse with, you’ll need to confidently talk about product to customers and the public, you may need to conduct course walks, talks, personal appearances, yard visits and attend events. You may also (hopefully regularly!) be on the winner’s podium and need to speak clearly and concisely and memorably, and finally, with the meteoric rise of video countering content collapse on all social media, your brand will most definitely need you to step up and join the revolution. So yep, you need to be choc full of personality.

Kate Owen Pony & Pup Photography–  I look for genuine people that are authentic, love their horses and work hard at it, aren’t afraid to post about the good times and the bad! And they have to already engage with and support your brand.

Victoria ArcherEquissage – I look for an ethical and professional person with no bad history. A ‘good influence’ to the public and I then associate my brand with those.

Janine KellThe Golden Paste Co – Authenticity. We aim for our brand ambassadors to be current customers who use and understand the product and its capabilities.

Melanie ClarihewMackenzie & George – I’ve had to think really hard about this as it’s multi fold; they need to be genuine, authentic love for the brand and what we do, super lovely people who respect their audience, and loyal.

But, the one most important factor For me, is willingness to work with us to produce original content.

Laura WilliamsBoudica Equestrian – The most important thing I look for in an Ambassador for my brand is shared value of equine welfare. I don’t look for a person who just wins prizes or has a huge following on social media, but someone who puts the needs of their horse first and strives to keep learning and improving their riding and knowledge for the horse’s benefit. As a small business I need someone who has similar ethics and beliefs. That way we can work well and closely together.

Helena Smith – From a brand point of view – approachable and an ideal customer, that can truly engage and promote the brand without it seeming like a hard sell. It also helps that others can see themselves in your ambassadors shoes, making products seem achievable and needed.

Tamara HudlestoneThe Very Important Pad – A brand ambassador needs to be engaged and proactive; not chased all the time .

Jenni WinterFlying Changes Coaching – For me I choose someone who is open and honest in their social media. Someone who doesn’t come across as “salesy” because working as a Mindset and Performance Psychology Coach means that my BAs need to be real and get people on board that way. Mindset is such a hot topic right now so they need to walk the talk.

So, what should you look for in a brand ambassador?

It’s fair to say that while the Small & Superchargers had slightly different ways of wording it, authenticity, being friendly and having a genuine affinity with the product and brand are essentials. Of course, there are lots of others things you can add to your list, but if you have these qualities as the foundation, it’s a great place to start.

What qualities do you look for in a brand ambassador? 

Can you be an ambassador for too many brandsCan you be an ambassador for too many brands? I was asked this question for a recent Facebook and Instagram Live. Not only was I very. very sure of the answer (yes), but there was a lot of support for this from business owners too. There are, however, variables on the number. Being a brand ambassador can be great for brand and ambassador, but it’s not always. And, as a brand ambassador, if you’re overstretched and underdelivering, it won’t end well.

Can you be an ambassador for too many brands?

You might have noticed a surge in the use of the term brand ambassador. It used to be a fairly rare ‘thing’ but, with the rise of social media, it’s become a lot more popular. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean, it’s a grey area. Having a lot of anything can reduce its kudos and can make what should feel like a rare opportunity a lot less ‘special’. But that’s a different subject.

People who are active on social media, who produce good content and engage with their audience are more likely to be asked to be brand ambassadors. When you apply for this accolade or are asked, the chances that any brand worth their salt will have done a little research into you and what you do. Now, these people (who are active on social media, have good engagement, etc) are not all that common… and that means that they can find themselves on the receiving end of a lot of requests. Yep, it’s really flattering and yes, you will probably get lots of lovely free things… but let’s just take a breath and have a little think…

If you are a brand ambassador, the brand will expect something from you

It doesn’t have to be a kidney or your first born, but there will be some pay back. If you’re supplied with products, the brand will expect to see these appear on your social media feeds, on your blog or vlog… and they will expect you to use the items. All of these things take time. Yes, you get the free stuff, but it all comes with an expectation. And so it should… giving stuff away for free is REALLY easy. But if that were the objective, you might not have been picked and the ‘contest’ would have been very different.

So. Yes. You get free things. But they’re not free. You’re expected to give something back and that will take time.

Some brands are flexible

Some brands give brand ambassadors a free rein and don’t give strict criteria. I personally think this is a good policy and you get to see who ‘gets’ it and who really doesn’t. It can be quite eye opening from the other side of the fence. This does not mean that every single post has to include a brand’s product, but it should feature organically in the content because. Wait for it. YOU SHOULD WANT TO WEAR OR USE IT. If a brand is flexible on the content you create, nurture this and support them. But be aware that just because they aren’t kicking off, they will be watching and waiting.

Lots of brands = no time

If you are looking to create content for lots of different brands, be aware of how much time this will take. You might find that, very quickly, you run out of time because of what you should be doing for others. This might mean your own social media suffers, or worst still, that your real life does! This is a real, genuine issue. Being a brand ambassador should not take away from your enjoyment of what you do. And having too many could well do this.

Conflicts

Lordy… this is a big one. Many brands have more than one type of product, and some have MANY. If you’re the brand ambassador for a retailer, they will carry lots of products. So what does this mean in terms of who else you can be an ambassador for? You need to find out. If you’re saying that ‘this x is the best ever’ on one post, and your next post states that something else is… what does that prove? You’re fickle? You can be bought? Your advice can’t be trusted? No one wants this… and you certainly don’t. If you work with people who have very specific products, you can take on more brand ambassadorships, if you work for people who have a range of products, this becomes a lot more challenging…

 

So, yes, you can become an ambassador for too many brands, but the actual number depends on a lot of factors. Being clear on what is expected from each party is crucial from the get-go, and from then you can work out whether or not they fit in with your current constraints and other brand ambassadorships.

If you’d like more hints and tips connected to PR, marketing, influencers, business development and more, don’t forget to join my newsletter– you can subscribe here

is the tide turning on influencers?If you spend any time on social media, you might have seen the story about social media influencer Elle Darby. In case you haven’t, I’ll give you a very brief recap. Elle has an impressive following on Youtube and on different social media platforms. She uses this in various ways and part of this is working with brands to review/collaborate with them. You can read all about Elle and the issue here. She contacted a hotel about a collaboration (which involved her staying at the hotel for free in exchange for exposure). The hotel didn’t take it well and published the email and a rather ‘spirited’ reply explaining why the answer was no.

The whole story is very interesting, and the comments from people supporting both sides are also very interesting. From accusations of bullying to freeloading and everything else in between, the story of Elle Darby and the hotel could signal something else. Is the tide turning on influencers?

Is the tide turning on influencers?

As you may know, I do work with influencers with a number of the brands I work with. Some influencers are worth their weight in gold, go over and above, and the investment made in them in terms of product is repaid over and over. Some don’t. I have worked with influencers who fall into the don’t category and it’s not good. You feel like your client has been ripped off and badly treated and it’s horrible. The client is left with a very bitter taste. And then the client distances themselves from that influencer (or waits for them to do as they are meant to) and it’s a horrible, uncomfortable process. And then, if you’re lucky, the influencer has a bit of a strop when you know full well they haven’t done what was promised AND they’re eyeing up a competitor’s brand. Luckily the latter are in the minority if you put a lot of effort in to finding the right people, but it’s out there.

For a while now, I’ve seen the tide turning on influencers. Not the good ones I hasten to add. There will always be a place for good, genuine people to work with brands they love. Always. But for those who don’t deliver, I think it’s going to be a very interesting year. Brands are realising that, actually, they have the power. And that in many cases their followings far exceed that of the influencer. Of course, the size of a following isn’t the only reason a brand would choose to work with an influencer. It is, however one metric in a range I look at when I assess someone. There is huge value in a lot of aspects of what an influencer can offer and what value they bring to the brand… but that’s a different blog!

So do I agree with what happened to Elle?

Nope. I do feel that she was called out and publicly humiliated and that wasn’t nice or necessary. I didn’t think the email was horrific, but it wasn’t the best. It was actually a lot better than some of the ones my clients get barraged with each day. Of course, pitching it differently could have resulted in a different outcome, much like the tsunami of requests for free ‘stuff’ my clients receive. I continue to be blown away by the nerve of some people, but that is a whole different blog.

In Elle’s defence, she does have a good following. I haven’t spent a huge amount of time watching her content or looking at her following as I don’t think we share that many similar interests, but that’s not a criticism. And in the hotel’s defence, the email was impersonal, didn’t really show an affinity or connection with the hotel, no research had been done and she’d possibly underestimated the size of their own social media following. Also, it could have been the 20th ‘begging’ email that hotel had had that day. But calling someone out on social media like that is never good. And the barrage of hateful comments that have been directed at her are not necessary either.

Is it because people don’t understand the power of an influencer?

Maybe. To someone not involved in the world of social media and influencers, it does look like someone has asked for something for free. End of. But that isn’t the case. Influencers can be big for a brand. If Zoella uses your product on one of her videos, your brand will get a LOT of exposure. That has a lot of value. Look at the stats related to magazines and their circulation, and even website visits… and now look at the size of Zoella’s audience. And now you’ll see what I mean. Of course, Zoella is queen of the influencers, but I’m using her to push the point. The right influencer can do big things for a brand. But unfortunately there are a number of people who sport the ‘influencer’ or ‘brand ambassador’ badge, and they don’t deliver, so they really are just asking for free stuff.

So is the tide turning on influencers?

I think yes, actually, the tide is turning on influencers. I think brands are seeing the true value of influencers, good and bad. I think that this will help the good influencers rise and do much better, but I think that the people who are falling short are in for a tough time. And I do also think that influencers will also start to see the value in the fact that brands are now also influencers in their own right, with bigger followings and better connections. I think we’re in for an interesting time.