Brian Freeman is the CEO and founder of Heartbeat, the first platform for ambassador-powered marketing at scale.
Authenticity is key when it comes to forming a powerful connection with customers. Brands that are looking to stand out from the crowd are relying on brand ambassadors, a subset of influencers who have authentic voices and true brand loyalty, to make a real connection with their customers—and short-form video is one of the best ways to do it.
Branded social videos are a very reliable driver of conversions—after watching, 64 percent of viewers will make a purchase. Brands have noticed, and from 2016 to the second quarter of 2017, Facebook views of branded videos increased 258 percent, and YouTube has seen a 99 percent increase.
There’s never been a better time to be a brand ambassador, and creating video content is one of the key strategies ambassadors can use to land roles working with their favorite brands. The skillset of the Generation Z workforce includes communicating at scale with an audience and understanding the natural ebbs and flows of social media. Adding video to that skill set can strengthen ambassadors' followings and make them even more valuable to brands.
Instagram and YouTube and Snapchat, Oh, My!
Video allows for the communication of far more information than a single image can hold, and while Instagram engagements are still higher for photos than video, video engagement is increasing at a faster rate. Instagram and YouTube are generally the best platforms for reaching an audience and driving authentic video views, and I’ve even heard of people getting job offers from having their YouTube audience counts on their résumés.
When it comes to building an audience of viewers that brands will find valuable, the most important thing is to be consistent. Ambassadors should focus on posting to a single platform on a regular basis before trying to establish an audience on several platforms. It’s unlikely that the people who engage with an influencer on YouTube will want to watch the same content on Instagram, so pick one and stick with it.
Other potentially useful platforms for ambassadors to reach an audience include Snapchat and Twitch, although the former isn’t a growing platform. There are more than 187 million Snapchat users active each day, but the channel is struggling to stay relevant for influencers because it’s difficult to tell how many people are in an audience. Snapchat is looking to change who it's targeting, but until it succeeds, I would encourage ambassadors to utilize other platforms.
Twitch is a very valuable channel for gamers looking to build an audience thanks to its integration with both Xbox and PS4. Ambassadors can quickly share game content to their Twitch channels, and viewers can even watch live streams of games. The platform also supports virtual reality integration, which will become increasingly important as the popularity of VR grows.
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Regardless of platform, ambassadors need to ensure their video content attracts and engages viewers. These strategies will help ambassadors create quality video content and develop valuable relationships with their favorite brands:
1. Pick a Niche
Developing an audience that’s useful to brands requires influencers to stick within certain confines. Making random videos and posting them on YouTube might garner some views, but brands want to work with influencers whose following is relevant to the brand itself. The UberFacts Instagram page is a great example of consistent content—there are no memes or cat videos, just interesting facts day after day.
It should go without saying that ambassadors should pick an area they find interesting, but it’s just as important for them to have an opinion on something. In order to produce valuable content, ambassadors need to take a stance. Sharing an opinion is what ambassadors do, and it’s what keeps their audiences coming back for more. Even if the goal is to objectively review products, viewers want to know whether their favorite ambassadors actually like the items they're reviewing.
2. Maintain an Authentic Voice
Maintaining authenticity is key. After all, it’s the reason that brands are utilizing ambassador marketing to get their message out. It’s easy to be perceived as inauthentic, especially if an ambassador is getting paid to produce content. Ambassadors must strike a balance as content producers who entertain an audience while also being able to monetize their hard work.
Just like the brands they’re advocating, the best ambassadors have a message, and they stay true to it. They write it down and look at it daily to ensure that what they’re producing matches their message.
3. Keep Quality Consistent
Don’t shoot a video with your iPhone camera one day and a RED Weapon 8K the next. When people look at an ambassador’s feed, they want to know what to expect and then be delighted by content within the confines of their expectations. It’s common for new influencers to be all over the place with their content, producing as many videos as possible in many different formats.
That doesn’t necessarily mean influencers should never experiment with new ways to produce content, but it’s important for them to keep a clean feed. If something doesn’t work and isn’t getting an audience engaged, there's no harm in deleting it. Tools such as PeopleMap will help measure engagement and allow ambassadors to determine when they should remove low-performing content. For example, Instagram user Krispyshorts does a great job of producing content with the same consistent quality and the same slapstick humor, and it’s almost all shot in New York.
Influencer marketing—of which ambassador marketing is a subcategory—is taking off for good reason. On average, brands receive a return of $6.50 for every dollar they invest in influencer marketing, and almost 60 percent of marketers are planning to increase their influencer marketing budget over the next 12 months.
There are so many opportunities available for ambassadors to partner with their favorite brands, and persistent influencers can find their passion becomes quite lucrative. To start building an even more engaged audience and a successful personal brand, the best influencers are turning to video to create the most compelling and entertaining content.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.