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Affiliates, Ambassadors, & Influencers: Another Important Distinction

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Since the boom of influencer marketing, there have been a lot of different terms floating around that seem to overlap. As if it’s not already challenging enough to find on-brand content for your campaigns, there are differences between the types of collaborations you should be aware of.

We recently wrote about the distinction between influencers and content creators, which you can find here. We’re back to help you clearly define the difference between ambassadors, affiliates, and influencers, so you can figure out what types of relationships and programs your campaigns need to be the most successful.

Who are ambassadors?

Ambassadors are considered an extension of the brand because of their deep loyalty to what the brand represents and its mission statement. A brand ambassador is someone who is paid to not only talk positively about the brand but to embody the brand they are endorsing.

Similar to celebrity endorsements like Steph Curry and Under Armour, the relationship between a brand and an ambassador is a little more formal than that of a traditional influencer. They’re typically given inside knowledge about the brand to become a true product expert. These relationships are perceived as more of a partnership than a collaboration because they’re longer-term. Brand ambassadorships are highly desired and sought after. An influencer typically can become an ambassador for a brand they have worked with multiple times.

When brands should work with ambassadors

For brands that want to highlight the experiential interactions between their customers and the product, building a tight-knit community of ambassadors evokes more emotion and relatability through storytelling.

This type of language allows customers to envision themselves implementing the product into their lives and promotes a stronger understanding of why your brand exists. Storytelling is human, and as humans, we’re genetically wired to love and respond to stories. Incorporating ambassadors into your marketing strategy is important, not only for storytelling but they can be your go-to group for new product releases, feedback, and information/education to your customers.

Who are affiliates?

Affiliates can help brands capitalize on customer conversion. These financially motivated relationships are great for brands seeking a deeper understanding of which affiliates positively impact their ROI. Affiliates earn commission by marketing the brand's products and bringing in leads that ideally turn into sales. The affiliate will look for products they enjoy then promote those products across social media channels like Instagram and blog posts. The sales they make from their promotion is tracked via affiliate links from one website source to another.

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based form of marketing with the goal of improving and increasing online purchases used by 81% of brands. It’s extremely popular amongst advertisers because of its cost-effectiveness.

When brands should work with affiliates

For brands looking to expand their reach and boost online sales, building out an affiliate program is an amazing approach because you don’t need to set aside a budget to pay the affiliate unless they make sales. Affiliate marketing has been around for many years, and it was the first of its kind until influencers emerged to promote products across social media. Many companies have built their entire marketing empire around affiliates and for many individuals, this is their full-time job.

Who are influencers?

Influencers are real people who serve as micro-celebrities and have marketed their personal brands through social media to build a following. Influencers have different standards that determine their level of influence, like engagement rates, so they're paid based on their ability to influence their followers’ choices.

Influencers typically want to maintain their own brand aesthetic. They’re in control of the brand's message, choosing how they want to portray it so it resonates well with their audience. Brands may turn to influencers for short-term campaigns that are tied to very specific goals, or long-term campaigns to move towards community-driven goals. As mentioned earlier, influencers may potentially graduate to an ambassador program.

To celebrate and honor their strong community of brand evangelists, Revolve has held #revolveawards the past two years, where they award the Influencer of the Year and Beauty Influencer of the Year. Revolve is the OG influencer marketing brand that is now valued at more than $1.8 billon after their initial public offering.

When brands should work with influencers

Influencers are incredible for brands looking to have a presence in multiple markets, want to reach a variety of audiences, and need custom content to support each step in the customer journey.

What all of this means for you

Now that you’re in the know and based on your campaign needs, you can confidently determine what types of relationships will help you reach your goals and then attach those to certain campaign outcomes for stronger data-driven results.

Leverage ambassadors to connect your customers to the bigger picture; what your brand stands for. Leverage affiliates when sales are your main campaign driver. Leverage influencers and their loyal and engaged audiences to build brand awareness and trust.

Know which program is best for your brand? Start here with a demo request!

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