There are abundant ways businesses can connect with their communities on social media. In addition to publishing their own quality content, engaging via comments and running ads, they can reach out through influencers, brand ambassadors or affiliates. While each of these social users has some level of influence with their networks, they are not interchangeable. They differ in followers, partnership opportunities and payment methods.



Who they are: When you think of the term “influencer,” you may think of someone with perfect selfies and pouty lips on Instagram, but that’s just a pop culture stereotype. The reality is that so-called influencers traverse many industries, interests and areas of expertise. They are widely popular personalities, professionals, entertainers and athletes who have the power to influence very large groups of people – at least 10,000 or more – through their social media channels. Influencers have high engagement – often hundreds or thousands of comments and likes per post.

Partnership: Influencer partnerships can take many forms. Most commonly, an influencer partners with a business in exchange for complimentary products and a lump sum of money for one or a series of posts on an agreed-upon social platform.

Payment: Influencers are paid upfront in a lump sum, including free products or services. Prices depend on their perceived influencer, engagement data, past partnership success, exposure and other situational factors. The fees can vary drastically from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Some celebrities even command six-figure fees for a single post.

Other must-knows:  When partnering with an influencer, it’s important to evaluate authenticity with their audience. There are some pretty convincing fakers out there, so you need to conduct research and assess these red flags. Second, businesses should acknowledge that influencers’ social presence is their livelihood; they expect respectful and professional interactions. And lastly, brands approach influencers often, so choose influencers who genuinely align with your brand and vice versa to avoid wasting anyone’s time.


Brand Ambassadors

Who they are: Brand ambassadors are individuals who genuinely believe in a brand’s mission and product, and they are hired to speak favorably about the brand online and at events. They promote the brand to friends, family and their networks. Brand ambassadors may have substantial followings, but that is not required.

Partnership: The company pays brand ambassadors for an agreed period. Partnerships involve a contract that outlines pay, duties and time period.

Payment: Companies pay brand ambassadors on a monthly or lump-sum basis. These fees can also vary significantly, but they generally do not reach the level of the highest-paid influencers.

Other must-knows: Brand ambassadors can be influencers who build a more extensive partnership with a brand, or they may be locals in your niche market. Like influencer partnerships, it’s important they fit seamlessly with the brand because they speak for and embody it. You should assess the brand ambassador’s values, tone and audience makeup.



Who they are: Affiliates promote a personal discount code or referral link regularly in exchange for a percentage of sale conversions. Their social followings tend to be smaller, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousands. Some brand ambassadors or influencers may also set up an affiliate arrangement if they think commissions will outweigh the flat fee.

Partnership: A company’s products are often gifted or sold to affiliates at a discounted rate. When promoting the products and their code, affiliates follow content creation guidelines set by the brand. They then have free reign to promote the brand as little or as much as they want unless otherwise stated contractually.

Payment: The critical difference with affiliates is that they are paid based on a percentage of sales and not via a lump sum.

Other must-knows: Motivated affiliates can drive a considerable number of sales. Creating incentives will help them stay motivated and continue creating content that converts. Like influencers and brand ambassadors, the affiliate should align with your brand.


The right partnership can boost sales and exposure at a reasonable cost, but outreach, payment systems, contracts and management can be overwhelming. Learn how we can help leverage the right social media partnerships for your business.