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Influencers vs. brand ambassadors: what’s the difference?

By Clare Bingham, Engagement and Operations Director


It’s safe to say that through the rise of influencer marketing, more brands are turning to online content creators to amplify their reach and capture new customers. At a time when brands are vying for consumers’ attention, it’s worth reconsidering your marketing strategy in time for when the current pandemic comes to an end.

Although influencers can provide a decidedly filtered view on things, no one can deny that an influencer partnership can be game-changing, when handled in the right way. But have we become blind to other potential opportunities to share our products?

We debunk some of the myths associated with influencers and brand ambassadors and clear-up the difference between the two.


1. “Working with an influencer is guaranteed to make my product go viral.”

A: Wrong. With such a vast array of influencers out there, it’s really important to do your research before entering into an agreement. Consumers are becoming savvier to brand partnerships, so sponsored content that feels forced simply won’t resonate. Firstly, check that the influencer is aligned with your brand and ensure their engagement and follower figures are genuine.  Also consider whether there could be any longevity in the partnership.

Too often, we see brands partnering with influencers as a ‘one-off’. While you may see an immediate surge in sales and website traffic, odds are that this peak will have decreased again in a week or two. It’s definitely worth investing more into an integrated campaign, staggering posts and mentions of your product over a concentrated period.  You’ll see a more consistent increase in sales and the pay-off will be much stronger in the long run.


2. “Brand ambassadors are influencers who sign an exclusive partnership with a brand.”

A: Correct, but there’s far more behind the term. In today’s social media world, a brand ambassador might be a content creator who works with a brand on an exclusive, long-term basis to promote their product or service.

However, this is not the only definition. If you think about it, everybody you employ or everyone who represents your company is an ambassador for your brand. Educating them and ensuring that they believe in your products and the benefits they will have on consumers is one of the most important things you can do to build brand credibility.

We mentioned earlier around the importance of partnership longevity, and the same applies here. You wouldn’t employ someone to work for you unless you saw the longevity in it, so don’t underestimate the influence your employees can have. Your team are the ones on the front line; they’re the ones who interact with customers, and if they can provide those same customers with a positive experience and a lasting, positive impression of your brand, the amplification of that to other potential customers is limitless.


3. “We need to start thinking about influencer marketing because everybody else doing it.”

A: Wrong. With social media feeds saturated with sponsored and paid-for content, brands should consider whether this is the most effective way of amplifying their reach.

At FMI, we’ve worked with a variety of brands in differing sectors, advising and supporting them with how best to approach their own marketing campaigns, and one size definitely doesn’t fit all. We see brands too often overlook the power of using their teams to promote their products. Using employees or even non-direct employees (call centre or retail staff) can be an effective way of demonstrating the value of your product.

One such example of this was our work with mobile phone company, Three, who needed help with increasing sales of the Huawei P30 & Huawei P30 Pro in their Tech Mahindra Call Centres in India.

Arguably, Three could have chosen to partner with a relevant influencer to help promote the Huawei phones, but instead, we worked with them to use their call centre staff to become ambassadors for the brand. With a little incentivisation (a trip to South Africa!) and some time spent educating staff members on the benefits and features of the Huawei P30 and Huawei P30 Pro, call centre staff were able to convey this knowledge straight to the consumer.


4. “Brand ambassador schemes only work in certain industries”

A: We’ve worked with a range of brands, from telecoms through to automobile to help them strategise the best way to incentivise their staff to help drive sales. Clients include youth mobile brand, Honor and leading telecommunications agency, Sky, and while our brief for both companies was different; the importance of utilising brand ambassadors was equally regarded in both campaigns.




From working with such a diverse range of sectors and brands, we’ve learnt that the people selling their products are the ones who have power and influence over the consumer. With some in-depth knowledge and an understanding and appreciation for the product, they will do just as much to promote and ultimately sell your product. A social media influencer may have only just learnt the name of your product when you reached out to them asking them to promote it.

If you’d like us to work with you and your brand to identify the best way to amplify reach, promote products and provide customers with a positive experience when dealing with your brand, get in touch with our engagement experts today!


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