A trend towards longer-term partnerships has risen in the influencer marketing industry. As the industry continues to grow and the number of influencers and Instagram users increases, the landscape has subsequently become more saturated. Creating stronger connections between brands and influencers is increasingly important to elevate campaign impact, influence consumers’ decisions, and increase brand awareness. Brands can achieve this through ambassador programs, which entail naming a high-profile influencer to share content on behalf of the brand for a long-term period.
Ambassadorships place influencers at the forefront of a brand’s social media marketing efforts. By regularly posting branded content on their social media, the influencer fortifies his or her connection with the brand, while also creating and maintaining brand awareness for his or her following. This allows for greater potential impressions for consumers. Ambassadorships are bi-directional, in the sense that the influencer benefits from multiple opportunities for content creation, and the brand not only receives this original content for their marketing purposes, but also becomes synonymous with the style and allure of the influencer, which may aid in positively reshaping perspectives on the brand.
Another appeal of ambassadorships is the ability to create exclusivity with the client. This means that the influencer does not promote any products or services in the same category for the duration of the ambassadorship. Traditional exclusivity agreements for brand collaborations are for a short period of time after posting, however, ambassadorships allow brands to maximize their exclusivity with an influencer without worrying if the influencer will work with a competitor in the near future.
Ambassadorships not only require social media postings, but extend into more traditional advertising material, for example print campaigns, and also event attendance. Influencers take on the role of becoming a spokesperson for the brand in addition to posting on social. By producing content outside of social media platforms, influencers have the ability to reach a much broader audience, benefitting both the brand and their personal following. The appeal in favor of a social media influencer as a spokesperson, instead of a celebrity figure, is arguably the more intimate connection followers feel towards influencers. Influencers who are especially skilled in engaging with their followers and who have cultivated a “relationship” with them prove to make successful brand ambassadors.
In 2016, Pantene named Chiara Ferragni, designer and the blogger behind “The Blonde Salad”, their global ambassador. For nearly two years, Ferragni has appeared in television commercials for the brand in Italy, Spain, and Portugal. She shares her Pantene campaigns on her personal social media channels, furthering the reach of the campaigns. Ferragni boasts over 11 million Instagram followers, making her ability to drive sales and brand awareness unparalleled. Her long-term partnership with Pantene has created a strong affiliation between the haircare brand and the dominant influencer.
Brands have also incorporated their ambassadors into product development, further strengthening the relationship between brand and influencer. Notable examples include Arielle Noa Charnas of Something Navy’s capsule collection with Treasure & Bond, in which the blogger designed pieces sold exclusively at Nordstrom. Arielle promoted this collection on her Instagram, where she has a following of over 1.1 million users. The campaign drove reportedly more than $1 million in sales in less than 24 hours. Popular items were quick to sell-out, and even created a secondary marketplace with significant markups due to the high demand for the collection. Nordstrom projects sales for the restock of the capsule collection to be between $3 million and $5 million this season alone.
When a high-profile influencer’s name becomes synonymous with a brand, the likelihood of increased sales for a particular item or entire collection increases. The odds of a successful campaign increases even more when the influencer has personally helped develop or create the product. Looking towards the future of influencer marketing, it is likely that brands will partner with influencers to create ambassador programs more frequently.
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