When it comes to building a new brand, small-business owners are cashing in on the influence brand ambassadors have over Millennials, and their addiction to all things social media.

You've heard it before--brand ambassadors are now the way to spread awareness of your brand or products. The social-media world has been overrun by women hawking goods ranging from protein power to waist trainers.

There are advantages to splurging on celebrity influencers: You are magically thrust into the eye of the masses. It's like taking a shortcut to the top of the hill, but it's a windy bumpy road.

The whole process can be confusing. Each person is essentially working in a freelance capacity (even if they've teamed up with an agent), so there is no cheat sheet to connecting with influencers. You might find yourself wondering: How much should I pay a brand ambassador?

That is open for interpretation, however, if you speak to an agent, they might say anywhere from a few hundred dollars all the way up to $300,000 per post for celebrity-status influencers. Yes, it's true. Whether or not you are willing to pay should be based on multiple criteria: following, loyalty, and interaction.

Following

How large of a following do they have? This will help you to gauge how much interaction you should receive. Keep in mind that someone with a laser targeted following will perform best. If the influencer normally posts fitness-related content and you want to pay them to advertise your tax service, the conversion rate might not look too good.

For example, I once collaborated with a fashion blogger who had only 10,000 followers on Instagram and a decent blog. I sent her some products, and in return she sent me photos of her wearing them, wrote a blog post, and tagged Bikini Luxe in her social-media posts.

Those products sold everyday for months on end. She didn't have a huge following but her photos were amazing, she was relatable, and most importantly, women wanted to buy what she wore.

I've also experienced the opposite where I worked with a model who had 500,000 followers, and no matter how many times she posted, we didn't sell a single product.  Her following wasn't interested in fashion, simply in seeing her scantily clad.

Life lesson: You can't guarantee someone will or will not sell for you, but you can do your best to choose wisely.

Loyalty

It's a business relationship--you're either paying them to market your brand to their followers for money or you're collaborating in some other way. The relationship should be mutually beneficial.

Some influencers simply post once and don't care if you've made your money back. If you come across one of these types, run in the other direction. Potential customers can tell if it's a true testimonial or not.

It's wise to have clear-cut expectations, even a contract drawn to limit any room for error. This can include number of posts, what the caption says, what types of photos are taken, and even how they tag you.

Celebs such as Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Cara Delevigne charge $125,000 to $300,000 and upwards per post. They have millions of loyal followers, and companies are known to sell out immediately when a major celeb reps their line.

Kylie Jenner once wore a Frankie's Bikini that was sold on Bikini Luxe, and it sold out immediately. You may not have the budget for these superstars (not many of us do!), however, finding a rising star who has a following with similar interests as your brand might be a good start.

Interaction

We all know likes and comments can be manipulated, so reading the comments carefully to determine if they're from real people or just bots is important. If they say something related to the photo featuring your product specifically, it's a good sign. It's even better if they're asking where they can buy the product.

Truth be told, every customer can be a brand ambassador for your company, and many of them come free. If you don't have a limitless marketing budget, stick with the ambassadors who have a smaller, yet dedicated following. Trade products for posts whenever possible, and build your company from the ground up with these people supporting you every step of the way.

You don't need to shell out $300,000 per post to grow as big as you'd hoped. Take it slow, engage your customers, and they will take your brand to the next level.

Please comment below or hit me on Twitter (@bikinigeek) with your thoughts!

Published on: Jul 11, 2016
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