Jargon can be bewildering, especially when people use the same terms in different ways. Here’s a trio of words associated with social media marketing that can cause confusion:
- brand ambassador
These three roles are similar in a few key ways and can often overlap, so it’s no wonder folks mix them up. Let’s clear up the differences among them with a handy glossary and then outline which role is best for your business.
1. Homeschool Influencers
What Is a Homeschool Influencer?
Sometimes people use the terms blogger and influencer interchangeably. Yes, a blogger is a type of influencer, but there are other types, too.
An online homeschool influencer is any person who has an audience of homeschool parents (mostly moms). That audience could be via any one of these online avenues:
- a blog
- a YouTube channel
- an email list
- an Instagram account
- a Facebook page
- a Facebook group
Typically an influencer has multiple points of audience contact although there are some who are only on YouTube or only on Instagram.
What Does a Homeschool Influencer Provide?
A homeschool influencer basically gives you access to her audience by vouching for you on one of her platforms. That recommendation could be in the form of written content, images, video, or any combination. That content is usually provided by her if she is a content creator. Other influencers are more brokers of their audiences and will simply distribute the messaging you provide.
What Investment Is Associated with a Homeschool Influencer?
To work with an influencer, you typically need to provide free product (or access to your service).
Beyond that bare minimum, the influencers who are more skilled at their craft and have larger audiences will require compensation for their time. This can range as low as $75-$200 and can cost as much as several hundred dollars.
The amount of additional support you provide the influencer will depend on the creativity of the influencer and your own goals. If you have specific messaging, deals, graphics, etc., most influencers are open to sharing them or weaving them into their work for you. A highly skilled content creator will need little input from you behind the product itself. She will put her own spin on the recommendation, taking original photos and documenting her personal experience with the product.
If you’re working with an influencer who is putting a lot of the burden on you to provide messaging, copy, graphics, etc., this is more of the broker type influencer who has a big audience but is not a content creator who personalizes her promotions. You may like this amount of control in the process or you may find it wearisome.
My preference is for content creators who weave your offers into her own personalized messaging.
The Law for Homeschool Influencers
Influencers always have to disclose any material connection with a client (as per FTC law), including even free product.
Is a Homeschool Influencer Right for Your Business?
In short, yes! Unless a brand is in the start-up phase and has no product for sale yet or otherwise is in the midst of some rebranding or site redesign, yes! There’s no reason not to work with homeschool influencers and dozens of reasons to say yes. The investment is low, sometimes as little as free product with a single influencer.
Getting Started with Homeschool Influencers
Experience is the best teacher. Just do it! Reach out to a few micro-influencers with an offer for free product. Ask for media kits and rates. Start small with two or three and tweak your approach based on results.
If you want to outsource the entire process, contact Jimmie at iHomeschool Network <email@example.com>. Jimmie will serve as your middleman, erasing all the back and forth emails and follow up with bloggers. Her streamlined process will match you with 10 or more bloggers who will create content around your brand. You provide product, compensation, and answers to a detailed questionnaire. Jimmie does the rest. At the end of the process, you get a list of URLs from your campaign, branded content to use in Facebook ads, and a list of action steps for maximizing the campaign afterwards.
2. Homeschool Affiliates
What Is a Homeschool Affiliate?
An affiliate is an individual who applies and is accepted into your affiliate program and then uses the links and assets you provide to promote your brand. She receives an affiliate commission (cash, not store credit) only when people purchase via her affiliate link.
Referral programs allow customers to refer friends and receive store credit. An affiliate relationship is different in that affiliates earn cash and may not even be customers or users of your product. While an affiliate could be a mom with a homeschool co-op group or some other in-person sphere of influence, typically affiliates are digital influencers.
The bar to being an affiliate is usually very low. For the most part, you accept anyone who appears to have any relevant avenue of promoting you.
What Does an Affiliate Provide?
There is no obligation for an affiliate to do anything. Her actions are completely voluntary. She may take some of the same actions an influencer would, but there’s not even an informal agreement, much less a contract, to bind her to act.
For this reason, most affiliates who sign up will not be productive for your business. You will find that 80% of your affiliate commissions come from just a handful of active affiliates.
What Investment Is Associated with a Homeschool Affiliate?
You’ll first need to work with your web developer to install and set up affiliate software. Or you can use (more expensive) third-party software services to manage your program.
In addition, you will provide:
- creative assets (graphics in various sizes), updated at least annually
- support and education for affiliates, typically via an email onboarding series
- communication to affiliates of time-sensitive deals and offers
- commissions, paid regularly
Is a Homeschool Affiliate Right for Your Business?
The initial set up can be time- and resource-intensive. If your brand has a strong name among homeschoolers and influencers are talking about you already, an affiliate program may be a great way to incentivize more promotion. If you are relatively unknown, an affiliate program may be an uphill climb since you’ll also have to recruit affiliates to sign up both initially and on an on-going basis.
If your profit margins are thin, you may not have the funds to pay affiliates who do perform. But on the upside, you are only paying when those affiliates send sales your way. If you have plenty of time and tech/graphics know-how to set up an affiliate program yourself, you may find affiliates a low-risk way to get more backlinks and exposure.
The Law for Homeschool Affiliates
Affiliates always have to disclose their material connection with a client (as per FTC law).
Getting Started with Affiliates
If you are considering an affiliate program, I suggest launching it in tandem with an influencer campaign so you get a two-for-one—influencers in the short-term and affiliates for the long-term. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to merge affiliate sign-ups into your influencer campaign at no extra cost.
If you solely want to recruit affiliates (without an influencer campaign), reach out to us here at homeschool.marketing <email@example.com>. This is a service we provide along with affiliate onboarding/education email sequences and affiliate management.
3. Homeschool Brand Ambassadors
What Is a Homeschool (Brand) Ambassador?
A homeschool brand ambassador is basically an influencer with a closer relationship to your brand. While she does the same work as an influencer, the quantity and quality is typically more intense in terms of time, personalization, and possibly exclusivity.
Instead of a one-off promo, a brand ambassador engages in a long-term (3 -12 month) partnership with you that may be quite broad, encompassing multiple avenues of influence on all her different platforms (email, blog, video content, Facebook groups, Instagram stories, etc.).
An ambassador has a special connection to your brand. Her recommendations go beyond the “check this out” kind of messaging to a full-fledged, hearty endorsement backed up by a stream of demonstrations over many weeks of how your product makes a real difference in her homeschool experience.
The bar to being an ambassador is high. You will invite only those influencers who have proven that they have an affinity for your product and the skill to engage their audiences on your behalf—influencers who create content in a style that matches your brand and drives results (engagement, clicks, traffic, leads, sales).
What Does a Homeschool Ambassador Provide?
What don’t they provide? The sky’s the limit, so you’ll need to spend time negotiating a list of promotion avenues along with a timeline, the quantity, and the compensation/product you are providing. This process can take a while to iron out.
Take your time to get it all in writing with as much specificity as you can. I can’t tell you how many times a detailed brand ambassador agreement has saved the day when I ask the influencer to fulfill missing items or correct certain omissions. When it’s in black and white, both sides are clear on expectations.
Discuss exclusivity during your brand ambassador term. Sometimes a brand is surprised to see an ambassador promoting a competitor even though exclusivity was not part of the agreement. Influencers often don’t see a problem with promoting two competitors simultaneously. If you do see it as an issue, then address it upfront during the negotiation process. Note that some influencers will require more payment or other perks in exchange for exclusivity clauses.
What Investment Is Associated with a Homeschool Ambassador?
An ambassador is an influencer on steroids, so your compensation package is going to be larger, too. In short, be prepared to send products and pay a few to several hundred dollars for the long-term relationship.
Is a Homeschool Ambassador Right for Your Business?
Yes, homeschool brand ambassadors are a good step once you’ve had some success with influencer marketing and have identified a few content creators who are a good fit. You wouldn’t want to start your influencer marketing with brand ambassadors. That’s like proposing marriage via an online dating app! Go on a few dates via one-off projects, narrow your potential mates, and then pop the question to your favorites.
The Law for Homeschool Ambassadors
Ambassadors always have to disclose any material connection with a client (as per FTC law), including even free product.
Getting Started with Ambassadors
Start with influencers on one-off projects. See who does work that resonates with your brand and sends traffic/conversions. Monitor the engagement on the infuencer’s work.
Once you’ve zeroed in on your ideal influencers, open a conversation about taking the relationship to an ambassador role. Getting on the phone may be helpful and lends a personal touch that many influencers like. But don’t be overly pushy. Let them tell you their preferred way to communicate.
If you work with iHomeschool Network for an influencer campaign, you get an easy start for vetting potential ambassadors. Reach out to your favorites one-on-one and see where it leads you.
The Differences and Commonalities
To put it all together here are a few facts:
- Affiliates are almost always influencers of some sort.
- Ambassadors are influencers with longer terms and a closer relationship. They may also be affiliates!
- In terms of affinity, depth of relationship, and level of vetting, the spectrum ranges from low to high in this order: affiliate (low) — influencer (moderate)— ambassador (high).
- You provide products to influencers and ambassadors but not to affiliates.
- You provide cash payments to influencers and ambassadors based on the content they create (not on results).
- You provide cash commissions to affiliates based only on sales they send via their affiliate links.
- You have an agreement with clear expectations for both influencers and ambassadors.
- Affiliates are free to promote you (or not) according to their own timeline and preferences.
- In all cases, the laws of the FTC require that affiliates, influencers, and ambassadors always disclose material connection to your brand (including free product).
- Homeschool dot Marketing can help you recruit affiliates and influencers. Based on their performance, you can then identify potential ambassadors. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or request a free 20-minute call.