The only trouble in paradise? You don’t know how to recruit the right brand ambassadors for your company. Or you’ve collaborated with a few and the results have been lukewarm.
Here’s your one-stop guide to recruiting brand ambassadors who don’t break the bank and also give you the most bang for your buck.
Inbound vs. outbound methods for recruiting brand ambassadors
Should you wait for influencers to come find you or go in the wild and search for them proactively?
The correct answer: do a mix of both methods.
Inbound-only is the dream. What’s better than discovering well-fit brand ambassadors without looking for them? But you can’t rely on inbound alone to scale your efforts unless you're a household brand name. Not to mention, the people coming to you themselves likely aren’t big-name influencers with millions of followers.
Outbound also gives you more control over who you reach out to. Instead of sifting through inbound applications, you’re outreaching to ambassadors who already fit your criteria.
Set up inbound methods of recruitment and continue with your outbound efforts. You won’t be alone: 71% of respondents in our brand ambassador strategies survey use a mix of inbound and outbound methods to recruit brand ambassadors.
Recruiting brand ambassadors: the outbound way
The very first step when you're searching for brand ambassadors proactively is to ensure that the creator reaches the right audience.
Let’s say your target customer is someone who is female, lives in Canada, and loves to go hiking. Your perfect brand ambassador is someone whose following consists of people who match that description 100 percent. It’s impossible you’ll find someone whose audience overlaps exactly, but it’s what you should aim for.
How do you check the audience demographics of a potential brand ambassador? There are two ways:
- Using an influencer analysis tool — fast, accurate, simple
- Asking brand ambassadors to share analytics of their social media accounts — slow, less data, but free
Let’s explore both methods in detail:
Using software to recruit brand ambassadors
Using a software like Modash is the easiest, most efficient, data-driven way to find and analyze potential brand ambassadors. Why?
- You find ambassadors who meet your criteria without any dilly-dallying. Let’s say your ideal brand ambassador is a skincare influencer on Instagram with a following between 10K – 35K of U.S. residents and an engagement rate greater than or equal to two percent. Apply these exact audience filters (and even influencer filters!) to find ambassadors who cross all the criteria on your checklist.
- ⚡Pro-tip: don’t apply many filters at once. You might lose out on brand ambassadors who were a perfect fit by getting too restrictive. Go slow and steady — apply 1-2 filters, scour the list, then apply more filters, and repeat.
- You have all the inside info on your ambassador’s performance without asking them. Modash provides a detailed analytics report for every influencer — their audience demographics, engagement rate, sponsored content, fake followers, and so much more.
- You get all your favorite ambassadors’ emails without going to individual profiles. What a time waste would it be to find ambassadors you like, go to each profile, find their email, and add them to your list? Modash gives you the email of all ambassadors you choose. Just add them to your list and you’re done. Or export them in bulk.
And I haven’t even gotten to the best part: Modash is super, super easy to use. There’s minimal to no learning curve. Use all the features for free for 14 days.
Using manual hashtag searches to recruit brand ambassadors
Not ready to purchase a software for finding and analyzing your brand ambassadors yet? No problem. Use hashtags to find ambassador partners. It’s manual and time-consuming. Plus it’s painful to work without all the performance & audience data at your fingertips. But it’s what you need to go from zero to one.
Now, hashtags can be divided into four types:
- Branded hashtags. These are #brandname like #Sephora. You can make a hashtag of your business name to track posts. But in finding ambassadors, use branded hashtags of tangent businesses with a similar audience. For example, a fitness clothing company might have a similar audience as the company Work Week Lunch — a healthy meal prep organization. Search for the hashtag #WorkWeekLunch to find fitness ambassadors they’re collaborating with and you might find someone you like.
- Niche or interest-related hashtags. These are hashtags related to your industry or the products you’re selling. For a beauty brand, it might be #skincareproducts. For a fitness brand, it’s #homeexercises or #homeworkouts. You can find plenty of such hashtags in your industry. Start searching for them and analyzing the profiles of creators who use them. You’ll find many who are a good fit for your ambassador program.
- Expert or profession-related hashtags. These hashtags are for a specific type of creator. Let’s say you’re selling superfood solutions and want a credible ambassador to endorse your products. You can search for #nutritionist or #fitnesscoach to find potential ambassadors with a badge of trust and certifications.
- Location hashtags. These are location-specific hashtags like #NewYork. If you’re only targeting consumers from a particular area, you need to find local influencers who can become your ambassadors.
⚡Pro-tip: when searching for hashtags, search for ‘recent top posts’ using the “Filter” option along with ‘top’ posts that appear automatically. Top posts are usually the ones that are performing well for that particular hashtag and might be populated with famous, expensive influencers. Recent posts give you the posts in chronological order from latest to oldest.
Finding hashtags is the easy bit though. Organizing and tracking them can get overwhelming. Keep a spreadsheet handy and use one page for storing all hashtags and another for storing details (analytics, emails, etc.) of the ambassadors you’ve shortlisted. You can also follow hashtags to see more posts related to that hashtag in your feed.
Using these 3 creative ways to recruit ambassadors for free
You don’t have to stay limited to hashtags to find ambassadors. Using free methods often translates to being scrappy and creative. Here are three unique ways to find ambassadors beyond hashtags:
- Use the downward arrow to find similar influencers. Found an ambassador you liked? On Instagram and TikTok, you can use a downward arrow to find similar accounts. On YouTube, it’s videos that show up in the “related” section. All suggestions might not be on point, but it’s still pretty useful to discover new ambassadors similar to the ones you already like.
- Sidenote: if you’re using Modash, there’s an influencer lookalike tool that does the same thing, but way quicker.
- Instagram SEO. For Instagram specifically, you can search influencers using keywords. Let’s say you’re a skincare brand. When you search for “skincare” on Instagram, the platform will show you accounts with “skincare” in their bio, username, or nameplate.
- Similarly, you can also search for text within posts and captions. Get creative and search for a variety of terms and keywords in your niche to make the most of Instagram’s ever-improving SEO.
- Ambassadors with an adjacent niche. Niche creators are great. If you’re a fitness brand, find fitness influencers. But it doesn’t hurt to step out of your bubble and diversify a little. Take Metabolic Meals — they deliver healthy meals to people’s doorstep. Fitness influencers are the straightforward choice. But busy moms also need a healthy meal delivery service. Metabolic Meals realized this and partnered with fitness influencers (like Allison) and mom-influencers (like Sharon).
- 💡 Learn more about finding and recruiting ambassadors in adjacent niches from this conversation with Maia Pedro, Influencer Marketing Lead at Bitpanda.
Recruiting brand ambassadors: The inbound way
Inbound brand ambassador recruitment comes with a lot of benefits:
- Applicants are likely already familiar with your products and brand
- Participants would be more open to commission-based deals
- The program can be self-serve, reducing your workload
But how do you set up a smoothly running, well-oiled machine for inbound brand ambassador recruitment? It all starts with a landing page.
Create a dedicated landing page for inbound ambassadors
If a creator is interested in joining your brand ambassador program, where can they learn more? How can they apply to be considered?
Enter: a dedicated landing page.
Create a landing page on your website that has:
- Qualifications required to be your brand ambassador: age, number of followers, engagement rate, etc.
- Expectations from each ambassador: how often should they post, what details they should include, what results you’re looking for.
- Steps to apply: an application form where creators can fill all their details, what happens next, and when they can expect to hear back.
- What’s in it for them: the incentives you’re providing your brand ambassadors like commissions, invite to events, store discount, etc.
- Examples of successful posts: add posts by other ambassadors as inspiration for what you’re looking for.
- FAQs and rules: if your support team repeatedly gets a question about something like commission payouts, have an FAQ section.
Pura Vida’s ambassador landing page is an A+ example of how to ace the home of your inbound program.
Link to this landing page at the footer of your website so anyone can find it easily. You should also ensure it appears on Google whenever someone searches for “[yourbrand] + ambassador program.”
Promote your brand ambassador program everywhere to maximize its impact
Once you have a dedicated landing page to efficiently track all applicants, promote your ambassador program whenever, wherever possible. Post about it on social media, add it to your post-purchase emails, mention it in your marketing newsletters, and discuss it at company events.
This social media post by Scrunchie Tribe is a perfect example of announcing you’re accepting ambassador partners for your brand ambassador program.
Another way to increase the reach of your ambassador program is to promote your ambassador’s content on your own social media profile. Sephora does this regularly on its Instagram channel — it shares stories of its “Sephora Squad,” which gives other potential ambassadors a chance to learn about their ambassador program and apply.
Sharing your ambassador’s content also makes them feel supported and boosts their social media profile — a clear win-win, right?
Google has several articles listing various brand ambassador programs. An excellent way to promote your brand ambassador program organically is to get listed in these articles. Search for “[your industry] brand ambassador program” and contact the websites getting the most traffic.
Should you let all brand ambassadors in or nitpick from the applications you receive?
If you want a self-serving ambassador program, keep it simple and let everyone who applies enter your community. Set up a commission-based model where ambassadors get a cut of every sale they bring in. This brand ambassador program is low-touch and will keep running without much effort from your end.
But if you sit and vet each influencer profile for every application, it can get time-consuming. It’s not advisable initially, but you can consider it if and when you increase your collaboration value or start receiving too many applications. For example, if you’re offering extremely high commissions and want the ROI to reflect that the percentage increase was worth it. Or if you’re getting too much inbound interest and would like brand ambassadors’ posts to be strictly on-brand.
Overall, in the beginning, it’s advisable to have a self-serving brand ambassador program. It’ll require low effort from your team to get the ball rolling — which is crucial in the beginning.
5 ways to make your brand ambassador program attractive
Nirvana is having excellent brand ambassadors come to you or them saying yes to your offer enthusiastically. But it doesn’t happen on its own.You need to make your brand ambassador program attractive to potential ambassadors. Like companies set up employee value propositions to attract the best talent, you should have a creator value proposition to lure the best ambassadors.
Here are five ways you can make your brand ambassador program more enticing:
1: Add a flat fee to your commission-based model (especially if you experience friction in performance-only offers)
In an ideal world, you’d only pay your ambassador partners commissions for every sale they bring in. In reality, many brand ambassadors would frown at a commissions-only model.Why? Getting only commissions means a creator doesn’t have guaranteed income from every piece of content they create. The potential of wasting so much time and effort only to get no ROI is why brand ambassadors turn down offers or don’t perform their best.The solution: adding a flat fee on top of the commission cut. It reduces risk and incentivizes brand ambassadors to do their best to get extra money in commissions. Win for both parties.
No wonder why 53% of respondents in our survey use a mixture of flat fees and performance-based commissions.
If a monthly recurring fee is not feasible for you, you can also offer to pay an activation fee — a one-time fee to kickstart the collaboration, then pay only performance-based from there.
Do a little trial and error to find which combination of offers gets the least resistance and most excitement from the ambassadors you reach out to.
2: Offer non-monetary benefits like exclusive merchandise, invites, and discounts
Another way to lure brand ambassadors is by offering them something valuable beyond money. Let’s say your company often hosts exclusive events with many important people your brand ambassadors would love to connect to. Offer ambassadors free invites to this event and highlight this benefit in your ambassador outreach message and landing page.Perks can also be free products every month or quarter, store discounts for friends & family, and first dibs on newly launched merch.
The most popular choice is free products (60%), according to 35+ marketers we interviewed. Other popular non-monetary choices to incentivize ambassadors were invitations to communities or events (40%) and access to limited edition or exclusive products (23.3%).
Think: what can your company offer to benefit your brand ambassadors’ lives or improve their business? For example, pet company Pooch & Mutt highlight their brand ambassadors get early access to new products, invites to photoshoots & events, and a feature on their social media accounts beyond the monetary benefits.
⚡ Pro-tip: when you offer non-monetary benefits like these, ensure you and your brand ambassadors post about them on their social media profiles. For example, creator Anushka Hazara posted about getting invited to celebrate IKEA’s 80th birthday.
Social media posts about these perks keep your brand ambassador program top-of-mind and allures more creators to join your ambassador program because it helps “see” your benefits in action.
3: Help creators visualize how much they’ll earn
What if you could show the money brand ambassadors can earn by partnering with you? Not in a wad of cash kind of way, but by talking real numbers on your website. It’s the classic writing principle of “show, don’t tell” in action for your brand ambassador program. Take SafetyWing. They have a “Let’s talk numbers” section on their ambassador landing page that shows how much more an ambassador can earn if they partner with SafetyWing consistently versus promoting them occasionally.
You can replicate the same section about money on your landing page. It doesn’t have to be “occasional promo vs. consistent sharing” either. Let’s say you pay a bonus to ambassadors every time they cross a certain sales threshold or increase the commission percentage if they consistently partner with you. Help them visualize how much they’ll learn over the course of a year or more if they keep hitting your benchmarks.
Once you have some data, you can add a calculator on your ambassador landing page that calculates how much commission an ambassador will earn based on their followers and sales.
You can highlight these monetary returns in your outreach messages too. Something like, “You can earn up to $XXXX per year,” or “90% of our brand ambassadors make at least $XXXX per year,” is bound to grab attention and get an enthusiastic response.
4: Use ambassador testimonials for social proof
Ambassadors have a lot to worry about: not getting paid on time, their work getting out-of-scope, and brands not valuing their inputs. What’s the one thing that can ease their mind of these worries? Positive testimonials from other brand ambassadors.
For example, Peluka Salon has a whole landing page dedicated to sharing its ambassadors’ stories.
Each ambassador’s story touches on why they love Peluka Salon’s products and why partnering with them was a dream come true.
Once you partner with a few brand ambassadors, ask them to share a review on what it’s like to work with you, which benefits they enjoy the most, etc. Highlight these testimonials on your ambassador landing page. You can also plug in a few social media posts by brand ambassadors where they’re highlighting how much they love to partner with you.
In your ambassador outreach, redirect ambassadors to read the glowing testimonials by saying, “Check out why XYZ ambassadors love partnering with us,” or “Don’t take just our word for it — check what our ambassador partners are saying for yourself.”
5: Ensure ambassadors that you’re professional and organized
Ambassadors want to know whether you’d pay them on time, respect their creative inputs, and be available to answer their questions. Many brands lack these essential professionalism traits that send away potentially great ambassadors running for the hills. Use copywriting on your landing page to highlight that partnering with you will be smooth as butter. How?
- Give a sneak peek into how detailed your influencer briefs will be — with examples of useful content, helpful talking points, and more
- Highlight that you value ambassador input and won’t withhold creative freedom
- Make your application process smooth, simple, and easy to follow
- Share your payment processes and timelines
- Be available to answer questions
KiwiCo’s ambassador landing page has a section for current brand ambassadors and influencers to download logos, one-pagers, and other creative assets.
This alone would signal potential ambassadors that KiwiCo is professional and easy to work with. Think: “what can I add on my landing page to reassure ambassadors that it’ll be a breeze to work together?” and go from there.
Invest in brand ambassadors for the long haul
More than 90% of marketers we surveyed said their ambassador marketing is ROI positive. So, if you’re wondering if you should invest in recruiting brand ambassadors, the future’s looking bright.
The best part? Brand ambassador programs compound. You’ll get better at recruiting the brand ambassadors who perform the best, your negotiating power will improve, and so will the systems you create. You’ll potentially manage hundreds of ambassadors without adding any new team members.
Start today by finding your next ambassador in Modash.