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Brand Ambassador vs. Influencer: Which Is Best for Your Brand?

What's the difference between a brand ambassador vs. influencer? In this guide, we discuss the differences and how you can choose which is right for you.
Jenn Wang
January 4, 2021
April 11, 2024

It’s no secret that we live in a world saturated with advertisements. If you had to guess, which form of advertising would you say is the most successful? Despite all the advancements in technology and the creative leaps and bounds that companies will go to, it turns out that word-of-mouth advertising is still the most effective.

It's estimated that word of mouth (or recommendations from someone you know) drives $6 trillion in consumer spending and accounts for 13% of sales. Despite all the algorithms in our daily lives that feed us things we are expected to like, people still rely heavily on the people they know. 

At first, this may seem detrimental to any sort of social media marketing plan — but that isn’t the case.

After all, this is social media, and you have ways to leverage a user’s network and get your brand in front of your audience naturally. You just have to find someone they know (or in this case follow) and get in front of them that way.

This is the essence of brand ambassador and influencer marketing. But what's the difference between the two? That's what we'll cover below.

Table of Contents

What Are Brand Ambassadors?

A brand ambassador is a person who promotes a brand to their network. They have the responsibility of representing the brand publicly (and positively) and helping them reach new audiences.

Oftentimes, companies will set up programs that allow loyal customers to become brand ambassadors. These ambassadors will then publicly promote the brand to their social networks in exchange for discounts, free products, bonuses, and more.

Brands like Lululemon and Harley Davidson are famous for giving dedicated employees a chance to work for the brand they love while earning exclusive perks, which makes for a mutually beneficial relationship.

A brand can also find an ambassador in the form of an affiliate marketer. These types of brand ambassadors will share a brand’s product or service on their digital platforms. In return, they receive a commission on the sales that they had an impact on.

This allows the brand to reach new audiences, while also providing direct financial motivation for the brand ambassador to push the brand effectively.

What are Influencers?


An influencer is an individual who influences people to purchase a product. They've often grown a large, engaged, and enthusiastic following on social media. They post regularly and their audience often reacts well to the posts, which leads to high visibility on the platform. Many times, an influencer builds their following due to their certain expertise on a topic, which draws in a like-minded following.

Influencers are differentiated by the size of their following and their platform of choice. They range from mega-influencers who have millions of followers to micro-influencers who only have a few thousand but are well respected in their fields.

There are influencers on all sorts of platforms, from TikTok to Instagram and beyond. This leaves you with plenty of opportunities to find a partnership that will reach your desired audience.

Brand Ambassadors vs. Influencers: Similarities

Brand ambassadors and influencers can both be used to leverage your brand in positive ways on social media. These days, both influencers and brand ambassadors operate primarily within the realm of social media—as that’s where the most eyeballs are found.

They're paid to represent the brand positively on social media and do what they can to ensure as many of their followers are aware of the brand as possible.

Another similarity between the two is that they both want the brand to succeed because the brand’s success is tied to their own success. A brand ambassador receives direct payment from the brand in terms of salary, discounts, commissions, bonuses, and more.

An influencer usually receives their payment in the form of a one-time deal, but a successful partnership can lead to more deals coming their way and their own personal brand being taken more seriously. When you use a brand ambassador and influencer, you can ensure that they’ll have your brand’s best interests in mind because it directly correlates with their best interests.

Key Differences Between Brand Ambassadors & Influencers

The biggest difference between a brand ambassador and an influencer is their relationship with the brand itself. A brand ambassador is either a direct employee or a paid partner of the brand, and with that comes a certain set of guidelines. They're expected to portray the brand in a positive light at all times, and their relationship with the brand is ongoing.

Influencers, on the other hand, have a much different relationship with a brand. The brand will reach out to an influencer and agree to a set partnership that will only last for one post or a series of posts. The influencer doesn’t have to abide by the brand’s standards in any capacity aside from the rules set in the original deal.

Because the influencer will be sharing the brand with their audience, the influencer usually has more leverage in these situations.

Brand Ambassador vs. Influencer: How Do I Choose?

So how do you choose which option is right for your brand? First of all, you need to determine what type of partnership you want with this person. Are you looking for a long-term partnership that will continue to produce results and steadily grow your brand’s awareness in the social media landscape? If so, you want to find a brand ambassador that you can partner with. 

If you're looking to make a big splash and reach a new audience that may not be familiar with your brand, then you should partner with an influencer. This one-time partnership will put your brand in front of an entirely new set of people, which can make for a large wave of newly interested customers. 

Above all else though, the most important aspect of this process is partnering with someone that makes sense for your brand.

What type of content do they specialize in? Are they someone who can bring your brand to new heights? Will their posts lead to a new group of customers becoming interested in your brand? You want a fit that feels natural, and with the plethora of creators out there, there’s definitely someone waiting for you to reach out.

Finding the Right Influencer or Ambassador for Your Brand

Once you decide which route is right for you, it's time to find the right influencer or ambassador for your brand. There are many ways to do this. For example, if you're looking for brand ambassadors, tap into your employees to find champions who wish to shout your brand from the rooftops.

If you're looking for influencers, search social media for influencers in your niche. Or, you can use influencer databases to find the right fit.

Of course, there's another route you may be able to take: partnering with content creators. These creators make professional user-generated content (UGC) such as photos, videos, and more that you can use in your marketing campaigns.

Cohley is a content creation platform that allows you to source professional creators for your brand. With just a simple creative brief, you can attract the right creator that fits your brand's needs.

Find Content Creators Easily With Cohley

Are you looking to incorporate some brand-specific UGC into your social media plans? If so, contact Cohley today — not only do we have a wide variety of verified creators waiting to work with you, but we can also help you out with performance analytics, coming up with a content plan, and so much more. Contact us today so we can get started on helping you make a splash on social media!

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Jenn Wang
VP of Enterprise Strategy
Jenn is all about challenging the status quo of content generation and creating a flawless system that works for Cohley's customers. Outside of work, Jenn can be found planning her next vacation, eating seafood, or patting every dog she sees.