How to Select the Right Ambassador For Your Brand

Social media influencers are one of the fastest growing forms of online media marketing and if you're not thinking about involving them in your company's marketing strategy; You're missing out.

SCROLL DOWN FOR a checklist OF things to keep in mind when selecting the right fit for your company. 

Influencers or brand ambassadors are one of the most effective ways to narrow your appeal to the right audience and demographic instead of wasting money and time on mass advertisements that often targets too broad and results in wasted eyes. As of 2015, 83% of consumers said they trusted recommendations from their peers over advertising. When you compare this to the landscape of online engagement which is expected to reach 2.77 billion by 2019, this could be a game changing way to access potential buyers for your product or service.

If I have you convinced that referral marketing works, don't stop here. There are some precautions you should be taking and some important things you should look for when selecting the right influencers to represent you. Defining your audience, setting goals for results and establishing what your brand image is, are all important first steps.

Before selecting an ambassador, be sure to check out their engagement rate. Engagement determines how many of that profile's followers are actually interacting with their posts. What you'll often find is that extremely high-follower brands, have extremely underwhelming engagement. This brings forward one of the most important tips I can give to small brands; do not get lost in the numbers. As it turns out, mega-celebrity Kim Kardashian, complete with 107 869 056 followers, only has a 1.77% engagement rate, regardless of the fact that her posts average at a minimum of $161 803 per promotion.

Taking a look at my personal rates below for an example (which are by no means perfect); my following is a modest 1586. But, my engagement rate surpasses Kim's at 12.76% because the people interacting with my posts are providing meaningful and relevant interest in my content. An added bonus, is that "micro-influencers" looking to expand their market will pair well with companies that hold a smaller ad budget. If you have a larger ad-budget, I would still recommend you aim for the "power middle" which is the arena of mid-level influencers such as established bloggers that have a mid-sized, but dedicated following. 

 
 

There is considerable value in influencers who meet your niche whether it be photographic style, audience or interest but do not quite have the large following that many of us are drawn to. Take the time to search for individuals who align intentionally with what you're hoping to sell to.

You can do simple checks of this by asking yourself the following:

 
  1. What do their hashtags look like? This will be where most of their larger reach is, allowing them to get access to 'explore' pages. If there hashtags summarize elements similar to your brand, then it could be a great match. Try to avoid accounts who use more than ~5 hashtags per post and who hide their hashtags in the comments. For a while, I was doing this myself until I did some research on "shadow-banning" and realized how many of my posts had been flagged. You can check posts and their risk for shadow-banning here. 
  2. How involved are their followers? It's too easy to "buy likes" and to appear larger than you are. This is where checking engagement rankings can be crucial! You can check an account's engagement rate here to help you determine how much interest their following is willing to give.
  3. Do their comments average at 4+ words? A tip for scoping out brands that may be participating in Instagram Pods or other fabricated engagement techniques, is seeing what the comments are really saying and if they really add value to the photo or video at hand.
  4. Have you done your research? Follow some accounts you admire and see how they interact on their stories, comments and other engagements. See how often they post and if they are commonly showing up on your "following" tab listed in your notification function. Here you'll see their interactions with their followers and that information can give you a clear idea if they are being authentic in comments, or liking hundreds of photos mindlessly everyday. These clues are things to watch for as Instagram in particular begins to use harsher regulations for spam in 2018. You do not want to sign on an influencer that is soon to have their account blocked or taken down from using bots. 
  5. Where are they located? Shipping costs can be steep. It also is of benefit to you to seek out local influencers who can stage photos in your area if you have a physical location or to add reference to any "local pride" you are trying to establish. You'll be more likely to actually meet these people one day, which could be nice if you're at all feeling comprehensive. 
  6. Does their style match yours? Using influencers shouldn't be exclusively for "peer review" but also to give you an opportunity for content creation! If their feed matches yours, or you admire their editing style, that's a win-win for both parties.
  7. Are you offering a product exchange or monetary payment? If a product exchange, make sure that your product is something they actually want and will use (even if you hadn't offered it to them for free). Seek out customers in your channels that already love what you're doing. This will make the relationship easy to establish and the reviews to their networks all the more authentic.

Overall, bigger does not always mean better. The best way to take advantage of a changing advertising scope is to get ahead of it and think smart strategy when convincing consumers to make purchasing decisions. Instagram, YouTube, Blogs and many other networks host billions of opportunities for you to get your voice heard, it's up to you to take advantage of ones that work and give you continued benefit.

If you're a brand looking at representatives for sponsorship or product collaborations, have a look at my feed and feel free to connect if you think it's a good fit!