5 Brand Ambassador Bungles: When Influencer Marketing Goes Wrong

Brand ambassador marketing is all the rage in 2017, but what happens when things don’t work out the way you expect?

Call them Brand Ambassadors, Influencers, or Sponsors; they rule the social media roost, and may continue to do so for the rest of 2017 in Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube.

So what’s a marketer to do? While I can’t advise you on your own brand, this article will cover five key missteps marketers make when engaging brand ambassadors. Looking to become a brand ambassador yourself? We’ve got plenty of content to cover such as how to become a fashion brand ambassador.

1. Don’t try to sprint before you can crawl.

It’s all so easy! You just do your research or use a handy SaaS platform to find influencers, reach out, and execute the campaign, right?


Brands have been challenged in the recent months because the best brand ambassadors and influencers are charging tens of thousands of dollars per post. Who has the budget for that? Apparently, enough big brands do, and they are soaking up opportunities. This is where small and medium-sized businesses need to get real. Influencers don’t want to work with your brand, they want to work with many brands. That means they seek relationships with companies that can bring them deals, and they make concessions for those who can. That leaves you holding the bag.

A recent success story comes from small business GoWorx. They use an incredible network of adventure travelers to sell their line of custom GoPro accessories.

Brand Ambassador Program

So what’s the secret? How can a small brand work with so many awesome ambassadors on a daily basis?

GoWorx knew they needed to get things moving quickly, and the right way, from day 1. They tapped social content agency NOTICE to provide the campaign planning and activation. NOTICE provided framework and relationships with key influencers that go beyond a single brand. That means negotiating power, and the ability to better control content and activation. After all, if influencers don’t behave, they might get cut off from other future campaigns.

2. Make sure your offer (and the product behind it) doesn’t stink.

While it seems like an obvious point, it’s still worth stating. If your product is of poor quality, or your offer to influencers isn’t valuable, you’ll strike out in record time. These days most brand ambassadors are hearing from the biggest and best, so the last thing you want to do is come to the table with a $30 free product as your opening offer. Take note: negotiation is a tough business, and can take a team to manage when conducting campaigns at scale. Do your research and understand what the current influencer market is paying, or risk insulting influencers aplenty.

3. Brand Ambassador and Influencer marketing isn’t an island.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but brand ambassadors aren’t silver bullets. They won’t solve your need for a balanced marketing plan consisting of multiple channels. When done correctly, however, they can enhance and even carry a brand from mom and pop to unicorn status. Check out our writeup on lululemon’s Brand Ambassador program for more examples.

4. Make events and experiences a core piece of the pie.

You aren’t just sending product to people around the country hoping they will follow your instructions and launch your campaign to viral status are you? It takes more than a slick pitch to squeeze water from a stone, and that’s exactly how hard it can be to get the right results from your brand ambassadors. Events are a great way to bring them into the fold while capturing content for future marketing campaigns. Video, social, and giveaway content can all be a valuable part of an events strategy. Head over to our list of brands doing great integrated marketing in 2017 for more examples of events.

5. Aggressively manage compliance.

The FCC took the compliance gloves off at the end of 2016. All brands should be wary of the fact that brand ambassadors and influencers must disclose their relationships with advertisers in every single post they make. It’s important because there isn’t much case law on the topic, and that means the first few unlucky brands to get into trouble will face years of litigation trying to clear things up. That’s not something any marketer wants hanging over his or her head.

That’s a wrap! Best of luck with your Brand Ambassador and Influencer marketing efforts in 2017.