While the two terms are often used interchangeably, these individuals do in fact perform different roles and can have unique influences on your business.
According to Nielsen Holdings N.V., a global information and measurement company, 90 percent of consumers trust recommendations from peers more than advertisements.
This shouldn’t be too surprising of a statistic, as most of us probably agree we’re more likely to trust a product recommendation from a friend, family member, our favorite athlete or celebrity or even just someone we follow on Instagram than we are to trust an ad showcasing a product.
Think of social influencers as literal walking billboards. These individuals typically have a large number of extremely loyal followers who are not just incredibly in tune with what he or she posts, but often eager to run out and try any item or product the moment the influencer mentions them online. Followers also often share pictures or posts of themselves trying that same product in response to an influencer’s initial mention/recommendation.
Getting your brand or product in front of the right audience can not only be challenging and hard to measure with traditional advertising, the cost can also be quite hefty. Directing a smaller percentage of those advertising dollars to social influencers presents your brand to a captive audience with the added value of the referral.
Plus, as previously noted, the influencer’s followers will be more likely to trust their recommendations – or at the very least will make note of the fact that he or she uses and likes such products – than they will be to take your company’s word for it.
We sat down with Tiffany Bolton, G/O Digital’s Communications and Media Relations Manager, to delve a bit further into why more and more companies are incorporating brand ambassadors into their arsenal of PR and brand building strategies. Here’s what she had to say:
"Advertising is everywhere [and] consumers can spot it right away. Many brands are choosing a softer-sell method by partnering with a brand ambassador to do more than an ad could. Brand ambassadors are trusted by their audience, immediately establishing a relevancy and need for the consumer. These partnerships work simply because consumers can see a product in action and visualize how the product could be used in their daily life. Even more convincing, the cost for a sponsored post could even be less expensive than a traditional ad buy. One caveat: do your research on your potential brand ambassador to avoid any PR nightmares."
To be successful in today’s increasingly connected, competitive landscape, brands need to find new, unique ways to resonate with their target audience – both online and offline. In addition to traditional outreach methods of marketing and PR, more and more brands are beginning to establish partnerships with social influencers and brand ambassadors to broaden brand awareness and boost profits via soft sells.
To further touch on Tiffany Bolton’s closing remark above, be sure to do your homework when it comes time to select an influencer or ambassador to represent your brand. They must be an authentic, reliable fit with your brand and possess a personality and style that appeals to your customers in order to truly be effective.