AMBASSADOR MARKETING

How to Create an Instagram Ambassador Program: The Ultimate Guide

David Morneau

By David Morneau
12 min READ | Oct 24 2022

Imagine wanting to promote your brand on Instagram. It’s not that hard, actually, since 200 billion companies are using this channel now.

Each day, you and your marketing team create new, relevant content. You study your audience and devise the most in-depth, insightful solutions to their problems.

And still, you get just a few likes and almost no other engagement.

Your Instagram ads don’t perform any better.

That’s not surprising, considering 96% of shoppers don’t trust branded content – even if it ticks all the boxes. However, 70% of shoppers rely on Instagram to find products.

Here’s the solution:

Learn to implement brand ambassador programs on Instagram.

This article explains what an Instagram ambassador program is, how to find the right content creators, and how to implement the campaign.

We’ll also include plenty of examples to draw your inspiration from. Keep reading below!

What Is an Instagram Ambassador Program?

An ambassador program is a process that your company will build from the ground up to:

  • Source
  • Contact
  • Manage
  • Reimburse
  • Monitor

its ambassadors – aka people speaking on the brand’s behalf.

An Instagram ambassador program is this whole neatly defined process specifically tailored for Instagram.

Why should you have this type of program?

When you pre-define a process framework, you streamline your activity without having to re-plan the whole thing each time you need to run a new campaign.

There are plenty of successful brand ambassador program examples out there, such as the Yelp Elite Squad:

Yelp elite squad
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Is there any difference between a brand ambassador and an influencer campaign?

Brand ambassador programs on Instagram as well as other social channels:

  • Focus on a long-term relationship, while an influencer collaboration can be limited to just a few posts.
  • Include different categories of people, not just content creators. That means you can have employees, real-life customers, or distributors speaking on your behalf.

That brings us to the following point:

What Is a Brand Ambassador?

A brand ambassador is a person that partners with a specific company to promote it in the long run.

So remember:

  • A brand ambassador needs to have this invitation first. Someone posting (even good) stuff about a company without this invitation creates user-generated content (UGC), not ambassador posts.
  • A brand ambassador is not always what you would define as an influencer. Ambassadors can be content creators, but they can also be regular people. Who you choose as your brand ambassador depends on your business goals.

Here’s an example of Lululemon’s ambassadors (notice their diverse occupations in the fitness area):

Lululemon ambassador program
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Warning: Instagram is ripe with scams and fake followers. Before choosing an ambassador, learn what mistakes to avoid.

What Does an Instagram Brand Ambassador Do?

First, you must establish your business goals and figure out the right ambassadors. Only afterward can you assign tasks.

But usually, you can expect an Instagram ambassador to:

  • Post about your brand and their personal lives, explaining how your products/services helped solve their needs. They can also organize lives, events, or even classes.
  • Tag their friends, talk about your company, and get referrals.

How to Find Instagram Ambassadors for Your Program

You can apply several strategies to find Instagram ambassadors for your affiliate program. We’ll break them down below:

1. Browse Your Followers’ List

  • Review your tags and mentions to find people always engaging with your brand. Look through the comment section and likes as well.
  • After finding these people, comb through the list. Pick only the people who:
  • Are active on Instagram.
  • Have a high engagement rate. You can use our free Instagram engagement rate calculator for this.
  • Fit your brand’s profile and audience.

2. Network at Local or Online Events

You can also find ambassadors for your brand at local or online events – especially the lives you host on Instagram. That way, you can ensure the potential ambassadors use the channel.

How will you meet them?

  • Organize a Q&A at the end to see who sticks around.
  • Pose questions or request suggestions to see who answers.
  • Ask who is already using your products or wants to learn more about them.

Pro tip: You can always network like in the good old days and ask for specific recommendations from your business partners or acquaintances.

3. Check Your Database of Employees and Collaborators

Wise (formerly Transferwise) is an excellent example of a brand giving its employees a voice. Their ambassador marketing program is effective because employees know a company’s ins and outs.

Transferwise brand ambassador
Source

And they also know what customers want from a specific brand.

That means they can talk very enthusiastically and at length about your products, intuiting very precisely the arguments that are most likely to convince others. In addition, if companies can also use remote work software or a task management solutions, this can also work as a great database.

4. Use Instagram Geotags

If you want your ambassadors to be in a specific location, using Instagram geotags will help you suss out the profiles that fit.

All you have to do is open the Instagram app and type in the desired location. We explain this process more in-depth here, along with finding content creators with tagged profiles and location hashtags.

Pro tip: There are a few hacks there you don’t want to miss, like using group photos.

5. Use inBeat

inBeat offers a free platform to find highly engaged, vetted content creators. We don’t want to brag, but the profiles we’ve selected are among the bestest, as we like to say.

While the average Instagram engagement rate is around 1-3%, our profiles usually jump the 20% mark. This profile below has a highly engaged audience:

Mauricio Vicente
Source

The filters are very intuitive, too; we’ve even included keywords you want to exclude to omit an entire category.

For example, you may want to omit HIIT and squats from your fitness-related brand ambassador search to promote your joint-friendly low-impact fitness app.

And also, who even genuinely likes HIIT and squats?

Here’s how to use inBeat in five easy steps:

  • Log in.
  • Create a campaign.
  • Choose live search.
  • Pick your hashtags.
  • Review the results.

Pro tip: Mega and macro-influencers are not always effective, although they have large follower counts. Other smaller types of influencers (nano- and micro influencers) can help you reach your goals faster because they have tighter relationships with their audience.

It’s simple math, really.

The fewer followers you have, the more direct and personalized interactions you can have with them. That’s how you can convince them to purchase the products you’re endorsing within an influencer marketing campaign.

How to Run an Instagram Ambassador Program

Here's a quick rundown of building and running an Instagram ambassador program:

1. Plan Your Campaign

A fun brand ambassador program that works starts with probably the least fun thing in the history of fun things, unless you’re Sheldon Cooper. And that’s planning.

Think of it like this: you want results.

But you have to know which type of results your company needs. That’s why your plan should include the following:

  • Precise goals
  • A precisely defined audience
  • SWOT analysis of your company
  • SWOT analysis and comparisons with your competition
  • Strategies
  • Instruments
  • Deadlines
  • Key performance indicators
  • Metrics
  • And all the other things they teach in marketing school

2. Choose and Contact Brand Ambassadors

Use the section above to find the right Instagram ambassadors.

After narrowing down a list of relevant potential brand ambassadors, e-mail or call them.

Here’s a frequent mistake most companies make when contacting potential brand ambassadors:

They talk endlessly about why their brand is excellent. Next, they start offering all sorts of freebies.

We’re not saying incentives are inherently wrong, but they can alienate valuable influencers when you’re pushing too hard. Instead, try this:

  • Ask potential brand ambassadors for feedback on your brand.
  • Tell them why they’d be a valuable partner for your company.
  • Explain how you can help each other out. It is the part where you discuss discounts, deals, special offers, etc.

3. Sign an Agreement

Your brand ambassador agreement should include the following:

  • Exclusive rights to prevent your brand ambassadors from advertising your competitors’ products
  • Repurposing rights to reuse their content at anytime
  • Expected results accompanied by precise guidelines
  • Schedule with transparent deadlines
  • Non-disclosure agreement
  • The approval process to make sure the influencer requests your approval before posting on Instagram
  • Legal responsibilities to clarify that you’re not liable if the influencer commits a crime while being your brand ambassador
  • Payment procedure to specify details about payment, such as dates, quantum, and conditions

Pro tip: Here’s our free template agreement that you can adapt for your ambassador jobs.

4. Set Tactics and Instruments

Focus on your customers’ needs and learn what motivates them. Then, keep them engaged with:

  • Posts that raise their curiosity
  • Inspiring stories about influencers’ ups and downs, how they found their motivation
  • Behind-the-scenes posts. Who doesn’t want to see their idol getting out of bed with messy morning hair?
  • Original content from fans
  • Competitions, giveaways, and challenges
  • Polls and debates
  • Prizes or certificates for loyal followers
  • Sharing tips and tricks about your product
  • Using your product in innovative ways
  • Roasts
  • Talking about hardships and how the influencers overcame them by using your product
  • A day in your brand ambassador’s life

Make sure the instruments you choose are relevant to your brand and the current campaign. If they fit your marketing strategy, they’ll bring in more results.

Repurpose this content to reach a wider market:

  • Feature these stories on your website.
  • Arrange them in categories on Instagram.
  • Include them in your marketing e-mails.
  • Make Instagram ads from them.

Pro tip: Use inBeat’s free Instagram mockup generator to test different looks and ensure your content gets the desired results.

5. Motivate and Pay Ambassadors

Brand ambassadors aren’t free, but paid influencing is still stigmatized. That means you’re walking a fine line between building credibility and becoming a company that buys its good reviews.

Monetary commissions aren’t necessary, though. You can get ambassadors engaged with:

  • Free products or discounts
  • Exclusive deals and tries
  • Gift bags or gift cards
  • Access to exclusive events and parties
  • Pay-per-click programs

Pro tip: If you want to pay your influencers, include the amount and associated details in your agreement.

6. Monitor Your Campaign

Use the KPIs and goals established above to keep track of your campaign. Look at:

  • Click-through rates
  • Sales made from an ambassador’s account (use affiliate links and exclusive discount codes to keep track of those results)
  • Engagement rates
  • Impressions
  • Referrals
  • Traffic to website
  • Cost of Acquisition (CAC)

7. Adjust Your Ambassador Program

Lastly, don’t forget to stay flexible and adjust your ambassador program as you go. Assess your current instruments and tactics to determine the most convincing.

For example:

  • A behind-the-scenes post may appeal more to your target audience than a contest – or vice-versa.
  • A specific ambassador may also be perceived as more charismatic or relatable.

Remember: Don’t be afraid to adjust, change, or remove what’s not working.

Examples of Great Instagram Ambassador Programs

We’ve already mentioned some excellent ambassador programs above. Let’s see how they perform on Instagram and how other brands are doing:

1. Lululemon

Clothing company Lululemon uses the #lululemonambassador hashtag to unite its community. In fact, their community is a prominent value for Lululemon, which you can notice in their entire communication.

Lululemon has several relevant brand ambassadors on Instagram, posting different types of content:

Motivational:

Lululemon brand ambassador
Source

Personal experience:

Lululemon personal experience
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Expressing emotion:

Lululemon emotion expressing
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Workout and training plans:

Lululemon workout ideas
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Notice that Lululemon’s ambassadors create a personal, emotional connection between fitness, mental well-being, and other powerful emotions. This connection is then associated with Lululemon – the brand making all this possible.

And that’s why their Instagram ambassador program doesn’t use other tactics (like humor or contests) that would dilute this raw emotion.

2. Yelp Elite Squad

The Yelp Elite Squad ambassador program runs on Instagram under the hashtag #yelpelitesquad, but you can also find it using the shorter #yelpelite.

Yelp Elite Squad brand ambassador
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This program works because users get vetted recommendations from these ambassadors, who are real people just like them.

And statistics show that customer reviews and recommendations convince up to 94% of people to patronize a business.

But here’s something even better:

Yelp regularly posts instructions on their Instagram page for people who want to join this Elite Squad:

Yelp instructions
Source

They create desire with posts like “a day in the life of Yelp Elite ambassador:”

Yelp day in the life
Source

They post humor-sprinkled videos outlining the benefits of a Yelp Elite ambassador:

Yelp video
Source

3. Maybelline College Tour

The famous beauty and skincare company targets its college audience through the Maybelline Press Play Tour. You can find this campaign on their website:

Maybelline press tour
Source

Side note: Notice how they call their brand ambassadors “Babellines.” That’s a symbolic, highly charged name that helps define the community of young women using Maybelline. Even more interestingly, the power of names is that they also define outsiders.

And that’s what makes any community stronger, creating social proof in the process.

The campaign also rolls out on Instagram and TikTok under the hashtag #maybellineoncampus. People can become Maybelline ambassadors by sharing their looks on Instagram using this hashtag.

Maybelline campaign
Source

Pro tip: Maybelline’s ambassador motivation strategy is excellent, especially considering the ambassadors’ profile. This strategy includes:

  • Games
  • Prizes
  • Sample Maybelline products
  • Connecting with a wider community of likeminded people

But Maybelline’s ambassador program is just one part of a bigger whole. The tour itself is a very persuasive strategy because it’s similar to a ceremony, marking a specific moment within the brand’s loyal community.

4. Sephora

Sephora runs an ambassador program under the hashtag #sephorasquad, granting people who qualify for annual contracts and the opportunity to be part of multiple campaigns.

Here’s one example of a person who made it into the Sephora ambassador team:

Sephora campaign
Source

If you follow her profile, you can notice a slew of posts promoting Sephora, using different tactics:

Connecting the brand with a cause:

Sephora campaign
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Product testing:

Sephora product testing
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Presenting discounts:

Sephora discounts
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5. Aerie

Aerie also runs an Instagram ambassador program, using the #aerieambassador and #AerieReal hashtags. However, you can notice it mainly uses nano-influencers as spokespeople:

Aerie brand ambassador campaign
Source

The #AerieReal ambassador program offers an excellent example because:

  • It aims to associate the brand with a significant value for today’s world, which is staying true to yourself.
  • And as such, it rewards its ambassadors by offering them recognition and a chance to matter instead of cash payments.

Why does that matter?

Many sources show that people share content because they want to support a cause or make a difference in the world. So that opportunity could be more motivating than a trivial $50/post.

Weighing Your Options

An Instagram ambassador program is an excellent solution if you want to connect with your audience by letting other real people speak on your behalf.

You can choose employees, nano-influencers, or regular shoppers to present your products, represent your values, and participate in all your campaigns.

However, you need a cohesive strategy to start the ball rolling.

Otherwise, you can’t pick the right people, set the right messages, and expect to see results. Improving a faulty campaign or scaling a successful one is almost impossible without a plan.

But as always, inBeat is here to help with a range of free tools, our influencer database, and paid plans starting at just $35/month.

Regardless of the plan you choose, we’ll offer our 24/7 customer support to set up a killer campaign.

Sign up for your free trial today!

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