Emma Cunningham

Influencers And Brand Ambassadors

Video Transcription

Hi, thanks for the introduction. We’re going to be talking about influencers and brand ambassadors today.

A question I hear a lot from all kinds of marketers is should I pay for influencers? It seems to be a really passionate debate with people coming down on both sides of the issue. Some people are saying yes, you absolutely have to pay influencers. You’re asking them for their time, you’re asking for them to come up with a strategy, you’re asking them to build a creative, you’re using their audience, of course you have to compensate them for that.

Whereas other people, on the other side of the fence, equally passionate say no, you cannot pay for influence, because that’s basically paying people for their opinion. It’s unfair, not genuine. The whole thing feels a little slimy because how do you know if someone really likes something or not if they’re just taking money for it?

I thinks some of the problem here is that there’s a bit of a language divide, and what people mean when they say influencer can really vary. I’d like to talk about what exactly an influencer is and how it differs from a brand ambassador, a brand advocate and your everyday loyal customers.

We all know that word of mouth is the most effective way to get your message out. For sure, people tent to trust people that they know and whether it’s a friend, a blogger they like, a celebrity they believe in—as soon as they can connect your product to a person they know and respect, they are far more likely to buy it.

Influencers are really category experts. They may not have already bought your product, they may not know your brand but they know your target audience better than everybody else.

Whenever they put up a new blog post, do a new commercial—whenever they’re in front of the camera, the public, they’re speaking to the exact people you want to reach.

When you’ve got people who have quite a large reach, a high following, when their fans trust them implicitly, when they’re really credible in the space, those are the type of influencers you’re going to need to pay, and you’re paying them, again, for that strategy, the creative development. They’re going to work with you to get results.

How do you make that still feel genuine? You’re really careful with which influencers you decide to partner with. Your brand has a philosophy. You have something you stand for, things you believe in. You want to find influencers who feel the same way, even if they’re not already using your product, they still believe the same things you do.

That  makes it a really natural fit. For example, if you’re selling camping supplies, partnering with a travel blogger who tours the world is a really nice fit and asking them to take your products on their next trip is a no-brainer.

They don’t have to necessarily say they love everything about it. In fact, they shouldn’t say they love everything about it because that comes across as a bit weird, but it’s still a really natural fit because they believe in the same philosophies and experiences that you do.

You also want to be really careful that the influencers you choose to partner with don’t partner with any brand that contacts them. You want to work with the influencers who—just like you’re being selective in who you work with, they are too.

You want them to feel it’s as close a fit and as natural a partnership as you do. Once you’ve got a really nice influencer down, the partnership, time and idea is there, that’s when money will probably exchange hands, and you can get going and count on a really nice return.

On the other hand, we have brand ambassadors. These are really engaged community members. You know the ones, where somebody posts a question on your Facebook page and before you even have a chance to go in and answer it, they’ve answered it, and you don’t need to fact check them, because you know they know their stuff and they’re right.

These are the ones who do use your product, and they’re so excited about it that they just spread the enthusiasm and get everybody else on your Facebook page or Twitter handle every bit as excited and on board as they are.

You cannot buy this. There is no money in the world that will get people as excited as a brand ambassador, and I’ve been really luck to have some of these types of people on my communities in the past, and I can tell you that my community was far richer for it. The next step for you is to reach out to those brand ambassadors. Build a little bit of a more personal relationship.

Instead of tweeting them from a corporate account, tweet them from your personal account, introduce yourself, say hi. Thank them for their incitement.

The only way you can ever pay these people is by sending them products, things that haven’t hit the market yet. Little bits of surprise and delight that excite them, feel that you care about them and continue to deepen that personalized relationship. As long as they’re happy with you, they’re going to continue shouting the word from the treetops as loud as you can.

They’re really wonderful people to have on board and you want to do everything you possibly can to keep them happy.

After that, we have some of your loyal customers. They may not be as active on social media, they may not be the ones on your Facebook page, but what they can do and often do is post reviews to sites like Yelp.

These are a great place to incentivize as well. For example, even just sending out an email saying we’d love to hear your feedback. Please post a review. Anyone who posts a review gets 10 percent off their next whatever it is you’re selling. It’s important to follow through on that, whether the review is positive or negative.

Even if you don’t want to incentivize, even just sending an email to your customer after they’ve made a purchase and saying thank you so much for taking the time out and spending your money with us. We really value it. We’d love to hear how you feel about how you feel about our product. Would you mind leaving a review for us on your Facebook page, on our Yelp, anywhere.

You can get a lot of headway that way. A lot of people do read those review sites, and if they don’t know somebody whose bought your product in the past, it can be a really nice way for them to get that word of mouth recommendation even without the personal connection.

Lastly, you have your community. This is primarily on own channels—your Facebook, Twitter, if you’ve got a custom-built—a follower. Any area where you’ve chosen to invest your time to get a group of people together to chat about things relevant to your business.

What this is great for is volume. You can keep the buzz going. There’s not silence, no time that your brand isn’t being talked about. It keeps the buzz nonstop. 24/7, round the clock, day after day, week after week and it’s really valuable for keeping your brand top of mind. All four of these are so important.

Where things really get extra amazing is when you work with them all together. On the left hand side here, we have acquisition. That’s where your category experts, your influencers, really come into play, as well as your loyal customers on those review sites. They get people into the frame of mind to consider your product who have never heard about it before.

There are great ways to provide introductions from a credible, believable source, and believe me, an influencer or reviewer is always going to be more credible than you are talking about yourself. They add trust, believability and they really catch peoples’ attention. You can’t let it go from there.

I know how a lot of people talk about how influencers are great for short term growth, but there isn’t always a long tail to that, and that’s why you really need to have a retention strategy in place simultaneously, and that’s your brand ambassadors and your category experts.

Once you’ve gotten your category experts talking about the brand, you don’t want to lose that relationship. You don’t want to pay for a one-off post and no follow up. You want to keep going, and unfortunately, that does mean spending more money, but you want to make sure that relationship continues, because if they continue to talk about your brand, it looks a lot more genuine to their followers than a one-off blog post.

Once those category experts have your target’s interest, they’re going to come onto your community and see all the chatter your community is building about the brand. They’re going to see your brand ambassadors really talking about your product, loving on it as hard as they can, and that’s something that’s really going to catch their attention as well.

A lot of businesses make the mistake of either focusing on acquisition or retention, but where it really gets magical is when you look at all four together, make sure all the pieces are aligned and that people can really move smoothly from that new customer acquisition phase, straight into that retention phase. That’s really where it’s gold.

You never want to lose the customers you worked so hard to build, and this is really where the magic happens.

Thank you so much for listening to me today. I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference, and I look forward to seeing the rest of it with you. Have a good one.