Our ambassador marketing rules have led to some of our top performing campaigns

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What is ambassador marketing?

Ambassador marketing is the aligning and engaging of a brand’s fans and advocates to help build community, promote business development, and enhance influencer marketing strategy at every level. Ambassador Marketing is the future, and Fohr is leading the change.

Ambassador Marketing: A History

In 2013 we became the first influencer marketing platform in the world. Nearly 10 years later, we realized that we had evolved as an organization, and that “influencer marketing” no longer accurately described the market niche that we filled. As we looked at the industry and other influencer marketing services, we identified a dissonance between what our influencer marketing agency and campaigns team was executing, and what our influencer marketing platform was delivering, compared to that of the norm.

“Influencer marketing” solution no longer accurately described the market niche we filled.

We were also realistic about the problems that plague influencer marketing for brands and the toxicity of its transactional nature. While it’s understandable that as the industry evolved, more complexities were introduced to the process that ended up stripping the process from what made it interesting.

So, as we thought through our rebranding, new vision, and the categorization of our company, the ideology of Ambassador Marketing seemed to stick. It brought us back to the basics, and back to the exposed root of the industry that we know and love: passionate people with a unique point of view, talking about products they love in an honest and authentic way. Thus, the Ambassador Marketing Mindset was born.

Ambassador Marketing: A History

“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative’. I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”
- David Ogilvy

The best possible scenario for a brand is that a passionate consumer feels compelled to use their platform to talk about that brand's product. If brands could pick one thing that they relied on consistently to move more products, it would be word of mouth. It is undoubtedly the most effective tool in marketing. The internet allowed word of mouth to grow in a way that it never had before, and Ambassador Marketing is essentially word of mouth at scale. It’s a brand story that’s being curated, rather than directed. With Ambassador Marketing we use word of mouth to tell real stories and tell them so well that they sell themselves.

We’ve been operating under the flag of Ambassador Marketing and its guiding principles since 2020, we just didn’t find a name for it. Now that we have a concrete way to talk about effective influencer marketing strategy for brands and build our organization around it, we truly believe that this ideology will carry the industry into a future that is sustainable for all stakeholders.

Ambassador Marketing: Why Fohr

A few times we think we got it right:

  • The first influencer marketing platform in the world.
  • The first influencer marketing solution to focus on using data to inform decisions in this space.
  • The first to focus on fake followers and verified reach.
  • The first influencer marketing agency to use testimonials.
  • The first company to build a simple way to find brand ambassadors and have them apply for opportunities.

We believe that Ambassador Marketing is the evolved future of influencer marketing for brands, and we’re excited to be pioneering the way forward to the best of our ability.

Ambassador Marketing: Back to Basics

Ambassador Marketing is a simple idea. In many ways, it’s not new, it’s not revolutionary, it’s just a product of asking what influencer marketing strategy works best and doing exactly that.

It’s not revolutionary to say that influencers should use the product before promoting it, but that doesn’t always happen with traditional influencer marketing for business.

It’s not revolutionary for influencers to pull their personal stories into the post that they’re creating, but realistically they’re not doing that often either. It’s a rejection that all influencer marketing strategy has to be really clever, and instead emphasizes the efficacy of simple, authentic stories from real people who use real products.

The 10 Rules

There are 10 Rules that guide and govern successful Ambassador Marketing. Good ambassador marketing is rooted in authenticity and requires trust in order to successfully sell a product. This is why you need to have either love or a story to craft a good post (Rule One).

Rule One
You need to either have love or a story.

The easiest way to ensure authenticity in your influencer partnerships is to find brand ambassadors who have a pre-existing love of the brand or product. When the influencer is excited and passionate about a product, it's much easier to transfer that excitement to other people.

Here at Fohr, if we can’t base a partnership on preexisting brand love, we build them around pre-existing stories.

A lack of authenticity is really just a lack of trust, it’s the audience saying “I don’t believe you” and it’s why to get it right, you have to make sure your influencer partners enter with love or a story.

Once you’ve discovered that an ambassador has love or a story that aligns with your brand and would be a good fit for selling your product, you need to have an orientation, not just a briefing (Rule Two).

Rule Two
You need to have an orientation, not just a briefing.

Fohr CEO James Nord gives every new employee an hour and a half presentation on the company’s history, values, failures, and successes. When we train new members of our team on our influencer marketing solutions, we aren’t just teaching them how we operate, we’re equipping them with the tools to succeed in our particular environment, and showing them how we see the world.

As we shifted our company philosophy to Ambassador Marketing, we have started to apply this same style of orientation onboarding to our influencer marketing campaign strategy for brands and ambassador partnerships.

A **brief** tells an influencer what to do and what to say; a **mood board** tells an influencer how the photo should be lit or how to frame it; a true **orientation** tells an influencer why.

With an orientation, brands are given the opportunity to set up the program and extend their expectations of what it really means to be an ambassador for the brand. It gives them the context that they need to work at maximum creative capacity and get the most out of the partnership. A brief may turn an influencer into a billboard, but an orientation turns them into an ambassador. This approach to influencer marketing strategy is not only more collaborative (and effective), it sets up a mutually beneficial long-term relationship.

Before you even start the campaign, you need to let the influencer use the product ahead of time in order to give an accurate testimonial and review to their followers. This leads us to Rule 3: Influencers will be given time to use the product and will be expected to integrate it into their lives.

Rule Three
Influencers will be given time to use the product and will be expected to integrate it into their lives.

We don’t think a sponsored post should be published unless that influencer has had ample time to test and understand the product they are promoting. That sounds simple—but as influencer marketing strategy and campaigns have become more complex, we have been in a position where hitting a deadline meant skipping this part of the process. The problem is we lose what makes sponsored posts so compelling: the honesty and the personal stories. How can we expect someone to tell us about something they haven’t used and experienced?

At Fohr, we strive for what we call “**Conversational Conversion**”, which means good sponsored content should feel like a friend recommending a product to another friend. To achieve that, we need to ensure that influencers have the time and space to integrate that product into their lives. Or, even better, find brand ambassadors that already know and love your product. It’s through that integration in your influencer marketing strategy that personal stories make product benefits come alive and it’s those stories that convince people to try something new.

Now, they’re briefed on the campaign, they’ve used the product, and we’re ready to start planning the actual content for the campaign. Never let influencers copy and paste their captions from the brief, and never let brands write the captions (Rule Four).

Rule Four
Never let influencers copy and paste their captions from the brief, and never let brands write the captions.

We often tell our clients that our briefs are like bumpers in a bowling alley. They let the influencer know where to throw the ball without letting them throw a gutterball.

They let them know what the key messages are without writing the caption for them. They act as a creative prompt, not a teleprompter. Key messages are an important part of all advertising, but for them to be effective in influencer marketing for brands, they need to be tied to the influencers’ specific experiences.

Let’s say there is an influencer marketing campaign where the key message for that product is that it makes you feel confident. The way to make an audience believe that isn’t to say, “this product made me feel more confident”, it’s to show them that confidence and take them along on that journey, from someone who lacked the confidence, to someone who built it.

This probably goes without saying as we talk about storytelling and long-term brand ambassador partnerships, but we don’t do campaigns that are a single post (Rule Five).

Rule Five
We don’t do campaigns that are a single post.

Everyone talks about authenticity, but do we understand it? Authenticity is a result of trust, and when talking about products that trust is built through an audience truly believing the claims the influencer is making. To achieve that, we need to make sure that the product is woven into the fabric of that person’s life. This is why we moved away from supporting single-post campaigns to achieve influencer marketing success for brands. The brand campaigns where we have seen real conversation and success are those where the product becomes a fixture in that influencer's life, and we allow the influencer to tell the story over a number of posts.

Running a campaign with 100 micro-influencers doing a single post can result in a huge amount of content, reach, and engagement, but the truth is they don’t do much for the brand’s influencer marketing budget in the long run.

Now about that content, we make sure that the product is the hero of the post (Rule Six), not the influencer. After all, the point is trying to sell the product, not the person.

Rule Six
We make sure the product is the hero of the post.

Another way to write this rule would be to say “generate a conversation in the comments about the product or benefit of that product” and a good question to ask your brand ambassadors to consider before posting is what will the comments be about? The answer should be the product you’re being paid to promote. If it’s not, your budget for influencer marketing will be for naught.

Your brand partners need to understand that implementing this influencer marketing strategy doesn’t mean posting just a product shot or holding the bottle up to their face, it’s about focusing an audience's attention on the story. It’s people saying how great their skin looks on a skincare campaign, it’s people asking thoughtful questions about a camera that’s being promoted, it’s the audience DMing the brand ambassador to ask sizing questions before they order.

Now to measure the success of influencer marketing for businesses and those product-focused posts, we prioritize persuasion over the performance of the post (Rule Seven).

Rule Seven
We prioritize persuasion over performance.

The post could be absolutely beautiful and get a million likes - but did you move any product? That’s what we want to see.

Our job as an influencer marketing agency is to create campaigns that make a difference in our client's business, and while we will always strive for above-average engagement, it can never be at the cost of persuading the audience.

Rule Eight
We don’t believe that macro or micro-influencers are inherently better than the other.

As an influencer marketing agency, one question we hear a lot from our clients looking to find brand ambassadors is whether they should work with macro or micro-influencers based on their influencer marketing budget.

We don’t believe that macro or micro-influencers are inherently better than the other (Rule Eight), but no matter how big or small their followings are, we don’t work with influencers whose followings aren’t engaged, authentic or relevant (Rule Nine).

Rule Nine
We don’t work with influencers whose followings aren’t engaged, authentic or relevant.

Here is the hard truth—having a following does not make you an influencer, it means you have an audience.

To be an influencer you have to be influential. And when executing influencer marketing for brands, you need to be able to influence someone’s purchasing decisions.

You have to have an audience that is actively listening to you, an audience that trusts you, and an audience that when you give a piece of advice or a recommendation is likely to be persuaded by it. It’s a simple concept—but in a world that values big follower counts, it’s often forgotten.

Influencer marketing for brands inherently has more value than running ads through Instagram for a reason. Yes, because of the content creation and all that goes into it, but more importantly because a recommendation from a trusted source is the most powerful thing in marketing. It is vitally important that when we find brand ambassadors and choose to work with an influencer they are speaking to an audience they have a relationship with and who trusts them. Having an audience is great, but having real influence is very powerful and we work to ensure our partners have it.

Everyone has an opinion about what’s best, (micro-influencers, macro-influencers, nano-influencers), but in over half a decade of influencer marketing agency work under our belt, and over XX campaigns run, we found that the best person is the best person regardless of those labels.

We have run ambassador marketing campaigns where an influencer with 50,000 followers outperforms someone with 500,000, and campaigns where someone with a million followers has an impact larger than 20 people with 100,000 ever could.

Every campaign we work on has a specific goal and a huge part of our influencer marketing services is to find the perfect people to achieve that goal, unbounded by preconceived notions of what influencer following size is en vogue.

Lastly and albeit most importantly, every single post we are responsible for has to add something to the world (Rule Ten). It needs to add value to the lives of the people who see it and needs to inspire, educate or entertain.

Rule Ten
Every single post we are responsible for has to add something to the world.

“Does this post benefit the audience?” That question should be asked by every brand, influencer marketing agency, and influencer before it’s published. The audience is the ultimate consumer of the content, but they are seldom considered when building a campaign. The best influencers we work with work are incredibly protective of their audience and fanatic about making sure every post they publish enriches their lives in some way.

Having that said, we also make sure we’re not deprioritizing the brand message an influencer is being paid to promote – the post has to be about the brand or product, too. It’s a delicate balance to strike, but ultimately the best performing sponsored posts should inspire, educate or entertain the people who see them, while also upholding the message being promoted.

The easiest way to get ambassador marketing right is to stay authentic and bring the Ambassador Mindset to every post you do. The challenge is to ask this simple question: “Does this post benefit the audience?” Make it a rule to not hit publish if you can’t say emphatically, yes.

WEBINAR

Social media & social justice, monetizing content, insights on the Nord Negroni

August 2, 2021
WEBINAR

Social media & social justice, monetizing content, insights on the Nord Negroni

August 2, 2021
WEBINAR

Social media & social justice, monetizing content, insights on the Nord Negroni

August 2, 2021