How To Become a Brand Ambassador
With the minimum of $300 (per month, per campaign) X several campaigns, a blogger can easily make couple of thousands of dollars per month. That’s lot more than most bloggers can make with ads, affiliates, or selling one’s soul.
You might think that you need an insane amount of traffic, a ton of social media followers, or mad luck, to be selected to work with brands like TOMS Shoes, Kimberly-Clark, Almay, etc.
I’m here to tell you that traffic, followers, and luck, are nice, but not required.
What IS required is creative talent. The ability to write compelling content. Willingness to work collaboratively with other bloggers to deliver the best possible campaign you can.
And you have to get past me. The Bouncer, also known as your friendly neighborhood Campaign Manager.
The Reluctant Bouncer
I was dating a girl named Fedra when we found ourselves with bunch of her friends who were dead set on going to some goth club in the City. I live in New Jersey, so “the City” to us is New York City. :-) Believe it or not, goth clubs were popular in the late 90s.
I was basically fresh off the boat then. I came to the United States from Bosnia, and this was the first time I noticed the red velvet rope with a big giant holding a clipboard and declaring who’s good enough to get in and who isn’t. I freaked out.
I had a deep, visceral reaction to this. I couldn’t understand why would people subject themselves to judgement like this. Why? Just to get into some club? What’s inside the club? Cupcakes? Ok, I love cupcakes. But still, I refused to stand in line and be judged by the bouncer.
Here I am, many years later, and I find myself on the other side of the equation. I’m now the bouncer, judging people who may or may not be worthy of getting in. And I don’t like it.
There’s a huge responsibility resting on my shoulders. I feel it. There could be someone out there who may be counting on few hundred bucks to cover their mortgage, and it could mean the difference between living on the street and having a roof over their head.
And this person would have done an amazing job for the brand, if only s/he was given a chance. But there is no way for me to know this. And so I have to use bunch of criteria to help me choose the right candidate.
I will share this criteria with you in hopes that it will help you get chosen. Not only that, but I want to give each and every one of you the ability to be your own bouncer.
Yes. By the time you read this post, you will see how it can benefit YOU to become the bouncer.
What You Need To Know
While I use about 20 factors when selecting influencers, each campaign is slightly different.
Missing a few factors is not a deal breaker, and sometime you simply don’t have control over the selection process.
Some campaigns are hyper local. For example. If the brand is looking for NYC based bloggers, you can meet all criteria except for the location, and that’s simply the deal breaker right there.
So, here’s the bottom line.
NO ONE is qualified to define you, but you.
NO ONE is worthy of passing his or her judgement on you. It’s the most offensive thing a person can do.
Whether you’re selected or not is not a reflection on you, but on the brand’s requirements.
There is a brand and a campaign out there that you would be perfect for, and I am committed to bring that campaign to you.
With that said, let’s set the stage.
We want to help brands and influencers create a long term, symbiotic relationship that may last for years.
The brands themselves are approaching campaigns as a Star Search. Or American Idol, for the younger crowd.
The old Pareto Principle is alive and well here. About 80% of influencers will do an adequate job, but 20% will probably do an amazing job. Brands will look to work with those 20% in the next campaign. In other words, the 20% will end up going to Hollywood.
Same is true of Campaign Managers (CM).
CMs will look for influencers who can set an example. So when a CM is commissioned to run the next campaign, s/he will look to hire influencers who have already proved themselves.
The same is true of you. As you work with various Campaign Managers and brands, you will find that some are better fit than others. You can then choose to work with the ones that suit you the best.
It really boils down to this for everyone. Do well, and you’ll do good.
First impressions count.
Put yourself in Campaign Manager’s shoes. S/he has hundreds of applications to sift through. For example, here is a screen shot of what was waiting for me when we announced Parents for TOMS campaign.
My job was to sift through 447 applicants and select 25.
The first thing I see is your picture, so make it good. What’s good? Here ya go
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to work with logos, cartoons, or animals. I want to work with people.
There’s a place for anonymity, but Triberr’s not it. Try Reddit.
If I choose you for a campaign, it means we’re gonna spend at least a month together working on a project. I need to know your name. First, last. All of it. You know my name, so I figure it’s only fair.
I will say that this hasn’t been a real issue with 1000s of applicants I’ve reviewed over the last 4 months. I think it’s because we’re been fostering a real-person culture here on Triberr for the last two and a half years.
Notice that Cherise Kachelmuss above is two for two so far. Great picture of her smiling face, and her real name.
Some campaigns are city wide, some are state wide, regional, country wide, or world wide. It pays to be in the right location.
At this time, there is no way to communicate the location requirements for the campaign, but that feature is definitely on our to-do list.
Triberr gives you a text box to enable you to communicate with the brand or the Campaign Manager.
I love reading this free-form text, especially when it starts with “Hi Dino”. It shows the person has read the campaign page, and that’s important.
Triberr campaigns are new for all of us, and there are lots of questions influencers have. Many of these questions are answered on the campaign page.
I’ve run 6 campaigns simultaneously. Imagine having to individually answer each and every question for each and every influencer. Bringing in people who have done these campaigns before, or at least have taken the time to read through the campaign page, is a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders.
Remember. There is a real live human being on the other end of the application process. The free-form text is an opportunity to sell yourself. Be specific in which way the campaign is congruent with your personal brand and how you would contribute to it.
Congruence is the “make or break” piece of the influencing process. See end of this interview for more, but feel free to watch the entire thing. It’s only 5 minutes long.
Your Triberr Profile
If I see your smiling face, your real name, and an application text that pull me in to find out more, I will click to check out your Triberr profile.
There are a lot of new people signing up for Triberr because of the campaign component. And this is great. I love this. But being new to Triberr means that you don’t have a distribution network that can spread your campaign related content.
Having a large tribal network and experience with Triberr is most definitely a plus, but is not a deal breaker. But it helps.
So, here’s what I hope to see when I visit your Triberr profile.
I’m not gonna lie to you. The fact that Nicole helps around Bonfires with tech support questions and has been doing that since the beginning, the fact that she’s been a HUGE Triberr advocate, the fact that she’s in my skype list and we chat all the time, and the fact that she’s awesome. All of it helps me in the decision making process.
Even long time users will be exposed to features they’ve never seen before. It’s much easier for Nicole to learn little bit of these new campaign-related feature, than to have a brand new user join Triberr and learn the entire system AND campaign feature set.
So, for the learning curve alone, it helps if the user is all set up and understand how Triberr works.
If your Triberr profile is kickin’, I will check out your digital footprint elsewhere.
I usually start with Twitter, but I might check your Facebook, Instagram, G+, LinkedIn, whatever I can find, really.
The number of followers you have on these networks is not as important as your engagement with them. So, playing around on Twitter can help you make a living. How awesome is that?
At this point, I will also look for certain undefinable qualities. The truth is, I wouldn’t qualify for 90% of the campaigns I run. My Twitter stream is all over the place, usually laced with profanity and weirdness. Combine that with a family-friendly brand and I’d be a terrible choice.
However, I am a brand advocate for Rawporter and few other startups, which are very congruent with my personal brand. It pays to be yourself, I guess.
The Seat of Power
All roads lead to blog.
Your blog is your own personal seat of power to influence.
It’s where you write meaningful content that readers can spread across their social channels. It’s your house. Take care of it.
So, what do I look for when I visit a blog?
I find that as the number of ads increases, the ability to influence decreases. So, the first thing I look for is zero ads. Or as close to it as you can get.
Don’t get me wrong. If you’re making a bunch of money with ads, then keep doing it. Who am I to tell you to stop? But I find that a lot of bloggers have ads that are not making them any money. If it’s not working, stop doing it.
At this point I have to make it clear what counts as an “ad”.
The obvious banner ad or a car insurance ad on a sidebar, is most definitely an ad. But so are badges for other blogs or platforms.
I don’t care what your Kred or Klout score is. Get rid of it.
I don’t care who your blogging buddies are, get rid of their badge. Besides, if you like them so much, build a tribe and bring them into your tribe. that’s a much better way to promote each other.
I don’t care to see badges for blogger outreach platforms. You’re helping them more then than they’re helping you, I guarantee it.
I don’t even care to see the giant Facebook fan page box.
Here’s something that might really surprise you. I don’t even care to see hyperlinks in your content.
Because every single ad, badge, pop-up, and even a hyperlink, is an invitation for the reader to leave your blog and go someplace else.
I base this on some solid research. You can find out more here, but first read the rest of this post.
What I LOVE to see, is engagement.
This usually comes in the form of shares, but it’s even better when it comes in the form of comments.
I LOVE comments. Brands LOVE comments.
Visitors to your blog have no idea how much traffic you get, but they can infer your popularity -and by extension, your authority- by the number of comment you get on your post.
If you’re using Triberr comments, it means that your tribemates can read your post in their tribal stream, leave a comment, and that comment then becomes visible in Live Conversations as well as on your blog.
Using Triberr comments means that it will be super easy for your tribemates to leave a comment. There are other perks, like comment syndication, and content acquisition (aka guest posts, aka reblog), and you can learn more about that here.
Your authority is directly related to your ability to influence buying behavior. You can’t influence buying behavior if your readers are invited to leave your blog through ads. But you CAN influence behavior if you’re intimately connecting with your readers. And there is nothing more intimate than a comment.
Ok, maybe there are few others things which are more intimate than comments, but none that we can discuss in mixed company.
Influencing the buying behavior, ever so slightly. THAT is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that brands are looking for. Even if it’s as simple as a positive association with the brand that will pay off next time your reader is at the supermarket.
I will admit. I’m biased in favor of self-hosted WordPress.
I’ve invited plenty of influencers who are on blogger.com and Tumblr. But I prefer to invite bloggers who are on self-hosted WordPress.
Why? Because only self-hosted WordPress demonstrated your commitment to blogging (other platforms are free), and only self-hosted WordPress makes you a home owner.
I’ll let Dan Cristo, Triberr co-founder explain.
When Dan was recently asked to comment for Search Engine Watch about Buzzfeed’s CEO proclaiming blogs as dead, Dan had this to say:
I would say that blogs are very much alive. Here is my reasoning.
1) You don’t own your Facebook profile, or any profile on another network. They can disable your account at any time.
2) Facebook only lets you talk to a portion of your audience. If you want to talk to a larger portion, you need to pay them.
3) On social networks… Your brand is secondary. It’s Twitter.com/brand or Facebook.com/brand instead of Brand.com
4) On social networks… People aren’t there to see your brand. They are there to see pics of their friends. On a blog, visitors are there to see your brand
5) On social networks, you don’t have complete control over the design. On a blog you do.
6) On social networks, you don’t have control over optimizing all page elements. On a blog you do.
7) On social networks, your content isn’t 100% visible to search engines. On a blog it is.
8) Social networks force you to create content specific to them. 140 char text for Twitter. Images for Pinterest. Videos for YouTube. On a blog, you can use any and all mediums
9) Blogs have almost universal sharing to social networks. Social networks restrict sharing to other social networks. Try finding a tweet button on Facebook, or a +1 button on Twitter.
11) On a blog, you can export all your content and transfer it to another blogging platform. Try exporting all your content from Facebook and importing it into Twitter
12) On a blog, you’re free to monetize your content however you like. On social networks, you can’t monetize your content at all.
13) The NSA won’t force you to contribute your blog content to Prism.
Bottom line for me is this: If I own a blog, I know there is at least 1 place on the Internet where I have complete control of my content, branding and experience. If I want, I can easily syndicate my blog content to social networks, sending traffic back to my blog.
If I build my home on other people’s platforms, like social networks, I’m at their mercy. If they want to punish me with ads; I have to take it. If they want to charge me to talk to my audience; I have to pay it. If they want to ban me; I have to start again.
Blog builders are home owners. Social network builders are renters. Renters with a nasty landlord.
This is a given, right? Make sure your content is solid.
I don’t find this to be an issue to be honest. The best content I find is on small and medium sized blogs.
On the other hand, the absolute worst content I find on the big(gest) blogs.
When was the last time you read something on Mashable, Buzzfeed, or Huffington Post, that you didn’t immediately regret? THEY are the purveyors of the most disturbing online trend.
In fact, I’m the proud member of the #NoEcho movement started by Doktor Spinn. I’d love for you to join us.
How to be the Bouncer
We are very early into this, but we’re already noticing a problem with our platform.
I takes about a week to build a quality campaign tribe with 25-50 influencers. That’s how long it takes to vet all the candidates, send them an invite, have them join, and kick things off.
That’s too long.
So, what’s our solution? I’m thinking long term here, but our solution is to hire campaign tribes instead.
I can imagine a day when a brand will come in and want to build a campaign around a new pair of fashionable shoes that are also good for the environment. This brand will want to hire a tribe of 50 and launch a campaign, all in 1 day. They would go to the tribe that has anticipated this need and has assembled itself for this eventuality.
When Triberr opened its doors on March 10, 2011, we had a default message waiting for everyone in their tribes. It simple said “Choose your tribemates wisely”.
Wisdom it seems, might pay off.