You're probably familiar with a few “spokespersons”, like Wilford Brimley. Spokespersons now share the stage in this new age of the influencer. Today, people use social media to create their own networks and audiences, but they do so through content that they share and amplify. Hoping to ride that wave of credibility and resonance are businesses who often hire these people by way of a brand ambassador agreement.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Brand ambassadors are enthusiasts who use, share and promote your product or service, in hopes of helping convert new customers. Ambassadors can be internal employees or can be hired social media influencers.
Understanding Brand Ambassadors
Companies choose brand ambassadors for many reasons, but the question is whether they’re choosing them for the right reasons. “Reach” is how far a social media user’s content and messaging tends to extend. For a long time, companies and people mistakenly thought that the number of followers an account has equaled how much reach they had. But in the past couple of years, it’s become evident that many accounts have been illegally “buying” followers — which means they’d been manufacturing the appearance of having reach.
It’s growing more apparent that it’s the quality of followers that matters with influence, as opposed to the numbers. For a brand ambassador who is considered knowledgeable about that topic, brand or product, and who has an engaged, active following who, in turn, also have engaged, active followers, the ripple-effect reach may be greater than someone with higher follower numbers.
Finding the right personality with the right audience can be a lot trickier than many realize, which is why some agencies specialize in branded matchmaking. Many companies also now hire internal brand ambassadors — people who are associated with the company professionally and whose job is to evangelize the brand. These opportunities are often advertised on job sites and they are also actively recruited for. But also be aware that a lot of companies advertise for “brand ambassadors” but it’s really just a buzzy name for a sales associate or store staff and other front-line customer service positions.
Nike: Just Doing It
A great example of a brand using ambassadors to define who they are is Nike. Almost everyone knows the viral campaigns featuring stars like Colin Kaepernick and Serena Williams, but Nike shines in using “micro-influencers” too — athletes and sports-minded individuals who have maybe only 10,000 followers and just influence people on a hyperlocal level. These micro-influencers tend to get the full Nike treatment: the gear, professional photoshoots (often in exotic or incredible settings) and anything else needed to create aspirational marketing. This is how Nike creates brand loyalty on a one-by-one basis in markets big and small.
Nike has a clearly defined brand message about overcoming adversity and meeting challenges through athletic accomplishments and they tend to choose influencers and ambassadors who reflect those qualities. They embrace a social justice element through boldly picking their battles, a la the controversial Colin Kaepernick campaigns of 2018, while making a point of standing by those they choose as ambassadors despite any blowback they may get in who they choose to be represented by.
But the average Nike micro-influencer is someone like Ji So-Yun, a super-talented Korean female soccer player with just 11,000 followers, or Tanya Lozano, a Chicago activist who gave underserved Chicago neighborhoods access to fitness (and has just 6,000 followers). Nike amplifies their messages, uses them in sponsored events and provides them with branded gear.
If you’re thinking about offering a brand ambassador contract, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Does this person love your brand? Would they use it anyways?
- Who is this person’s audience? Does it overlap with your coveted audience?
- Does this person have credibility with their followers?
- Does this person work for anyone else as a brand ambassador? If so, is it a brand you can live with?
- How active is their following in engaging with this person? Does the potential ambassador enjoy engaging them?
- What does this person representing your brand communicate?
- What do you hope to achieve from this relationship, and does the person in question think it can be accomplished too?
- How long should this relationship be — and why now?
- Is there a downside to this relationship? If so, what, and is it surmountable?
Brand Influencer: Contract
"Brand influencer" and "brand ambassador" seem to be used interchangeably, but it’s not quite the same. Yes, they should both be fans of your product or service, they should evangelize and lionize the brand, but an influencer is more of a short-term engagement (say a popular blogger who stays in a hotel for a sponsored weekend then shares that experience with their network) and an ambassador is someone you’ll have a longer relationship with. Influencers usually don’t need contracts beyond a simple agreement, usually hashed out in emails, but contracts are not unheard of. Brand ambassadors, with their potential for being an ongoing, long-term campaign for you, do need contracts.
It’s important to investigate contracts and contract language for a brand ambassador. Ambassador contract templates are abundant on the web, so you can find one that suits you and download it. Look for timeframe, milestones, compensation, content ownership and other details getting hammered down. Here are contractual considerations any good template should have:
- Payment or Compensation: A price per post is standard. It’s common for influencers of 10,000+ to get $500 or so, and over 100,000 to get $1,000 plus — but it will depend on the person, the brand, the market and so on.
- Approval Needed: Do you trust the brand ambassador to post content that reflects your brand in the right light? Some won’t work without autonomy. Others don’t mind the oversight. Know which one you're working with.
- Content: What kind of content do you expect? Video, photography, standard tweets or text updates on Facebook, Tiktok snippets, Pinterest pins, Snapchat posts — they all have different audiences and different appeals. To control what you get in kind, be sure to outline expectations for each platform.
- Usage: It should go without saying that products should be used or presented as intended for the best possible light but being specific is a good plan to protect your investment.
- Timeline: When do you want their content to be posted? Is this in conjunction with a product release you have? Be sure to specify time zones, and if there’s an ideal time of day for appealing to consumers, that can be laid out too.
- Exclusivity: Be wise and stipulate how exclusive that brand ambassador must be to your product. What is the period of exclusivity? Who can they not work with during that period?
- Compliance: Following laws is crucial — whether it’s where they’re shooting videos or how they disclose their sponsored materials (#ad, #sponsoredcontent). Specify that compliance is necessary for receiving compensation.
- Repurposing: Get your bang for your buck and ensure you can reuse the content and alter it for other platforms.
- Cancellation: Under what circumstances can you terminate the agreement? A morality or behavior clause is usually wise, for instance.
- Monster: Earning Money as a Brand Ambassador
- IntroFuel: Brand Ambassador Contract Template: Do We Need Them?
- Fit Small Business: 25 Brand Ambassador Program Tips From the Pros
- Social Media Today: 8 Tips to Help Build Your Brand Ambassador Program
- MoDash: Best brand ambassador contract template for influencers
Steffani Cameron is a professional writer who has written for the Washington Post, Culture, Yahoo!, Canadian Traveller, and many other platforms. Some writing projects have included ghost-writing for CEOs and doing strategy white papers. She frequently writes for corporate clients representing Fortune 500 brands on subjects that include marketing, business, and social media trends.