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Brand ambassadors: influencers and spokespeople for B2B and nonprofits

More than ever, buying decisions are increasingly influenced by social proof.
Marketing expert Neil Patel explains the 5 types of social proof as being:

1. Expert social proof – a credible expert, business or voice of authority.

2. Celebrity social proof – what we usually associate with a high-profile brand ambassador.

3. User social proof - success stories and case studies that show the benefits and positive impact of using a product or service.

4. Wisdom of the crowd – Language that highlights social impact or influence of an audience such as “utilised by over 700,000 professionals” or “voted most popular management platform in Australasia.”

5. Wisdom of friends – recommendations of friends stands as one of the most impactful.

Social influencers or brand ambassadors fall into the brand and expert areas of social proof – their key asset? The large sphere of influence they commend from various social and media channels. Because of this network, your brand or cause has a number of opportunities to get noticed. This could be via branded clothing or carried objects to an anecdote or recommendation in a media interview. The range of creative marketing options widens with possibility.

The Mark Taylor effect

Australians are incredibly influenced by sport and over the years we have seen a number of marketing campaigns that have brought brands and sportspeople together.

Think Ricky Ponting with Swisse and Mark Taylor and Fujitsu Air Conditioning. The Fujitsu campaign in particular has been arguably one of the most successful and longstanding partnerships. The former Australian cricketer and captain has been an effective brand ambassador across a range of traditional channels including TV, print, event trade shows and has created a clear bridge between the Japanese brand and Australian lifestyle.

There are two things to note, #1. Australian’s love sport. But what is even clearer is #2. Selecting the right, reputable sportsperson to affiliate with your brand can tap into something within the Australian socio-cultural mindset (and really pay off).

Rise of the micro-influencer

Something new that is fast-gaining traction is the ‘micro-influencer’. A recent study in the UK found that consumers who were aged between 18- 30 were five times more likely to purchase something that had been promoted or recommended by a person they followed or regarded as an influencer in an area of interest (Source: Affilinet). Difficult to pin-down in definition, a micro-influencer tends to have less than 10,000 followers on social media – however the following they do command is highly engaged – meaning their impact in the particular sphere of influence can be very strong. Their followers - while being smaller in numbers -  are more likely to act on recommendation.

Non-profits and B2B might find this a useful tactic to gain access to specific niche markets such as technology, software and industry specific leaders.

Bloggers and media personalities can also hold a tremendous power of influence. Whether or not the agreement is a paid editorial or commentary, a well written or constructed piece of content can do wonders for your brand. It all depends on what the drivers, messages and requirements of your campaign are – and what you are trying to achieve them.

Is a brand ambassador or influencer right for your brand or NFP?

As we have seen with fantastic initiatives like Red Nose Day, celebrities and influencers lend huge visibility and access to media channels.

Engaging an influencer who has a strong connect to your cause, can amplify the reach of your campaigns times hundreds and thousands. Particularly for nonprofits, such an affiliation is seen as a PR win-win when the influencer is also perceived as someone using their influence for humanitarian causes or philanthropy – which is great for their reputation. In some cases the reputation of the charity can also provide an opportunity to raise the profile of the influencer as it provides new media and PR opportunities.

‘Reputation’ is something important to consider, as the integrity of the influencer or celebrity has the potential to influence that of the brand – and vice versa. Brand ambassador partnerships as a result can require some detail considerations as to what each party requires of the other, and what they will agree to.

For B2B organisations and brands, engaging a brand ambassador can provide a clear and distinct point of different from other competitors - definitely something to think about.

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