Which Are Best: Influencers, Affiliates, or Brand Ambassadors? [Cheat Sheet]

In an era of diminished trust in brands and advertising, many businesses are tapping into new marketing strategies that leverage external individuals such as influencers, affiliates, and brand ambassadors as advocates for their brand. The simple fact is that people trust people more than corporate ads. 

Brands are looking to build connections with their customers and increase interest from new audiences by working with influential people who can authentically promote their brand and products on their behalf. That’s where the categories of influencer, affiliate, and brand ambassador come in. But which is best for your campaign? Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably, and sometimes one person can act as all three, but it’s useful to step back and understand how these three specific roles can be activated for your brand’s marketing strategy. While there are many similarities in their purpose, influencers, affiliates, and brand ambassadors perform different roles and offer different values to your marketing campaigns. 

Let’s start with some key definitions: 

What is an Influencer?

‘Influencer’ is an umbrella term for many different categories of online creators. A social media influencer has the capacity to effect change, shape opinions, and drive action within a certain industry niche and for a specific online audience. Influencers are characterized by their valuable social reach and ability to create social media content that engages their audience to drive specific outcomes for brands such as increased brand awareness, engagement, and conversions. 

What is an Affiliate? 

An affiliate is a third-party brand partner who drives sales of certain products among their audience in exchange for a % cut of the profits. Compensation is based on the individual’s ability to meet performance-based outcomes such as increased website traffic, or reach a certain number or value of sales. 

What is a Brand ambassador? 

A person of influence with close ties and natural affinity with a brand due to using their products, who promotes these products or services in exchange for compensation. A brand ambassador publicly represents a brand and can be recruited as part of a network to raise the profile of a brand by sharing authentic product recommendations based on real experience. 

How to choose between an influencer, affiliate, or brand ambassador campaign? 

Influencers, affiliates, and brand ambassadors can be activated for different campaigns depending on the aims of your brand. It’s important to understand why and how you can work with these partners to achieve certain goals. That’s why we’ve set out the key reasons and benefits for working with each of these categories in the Cheat Sheet to Understanding Influencer, Affiliates & Brand Ambassadors so you can choose the best fit for your brand. Learn what value they bring, what kind of campaign they’re best suited to plus the best compensation models to use to incentivize them. 

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It’s important to remember that you can tailor these campaigns to suit your needs by mixing and matching these partnerships for maximum impact. Maybe you’d like to activate your micro-influencers in an affiliate campaign to promote your holiday line? Or perhaps you’d like to convert your influential customers into organic influencers for your brand? Decide your goals and KPIs, whether that be awareness, engagement, or sales then activate your influencer, affiliate, or brand ambassador partnerships accordingly! 

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