H&M’s New Influencer Marketing Strategy: Employee Ambassadors

While most brands are turning their marketing budgets outwards into finding and paying influencers for sponsored content, H&M has chosen to look inwards instead. This is an interesting choice considering the vehement uptake of influencer marketing, which basically necessitates that brands work with existing influencers to promote products, take part in campaigns, promote brand awareness, and so on. 

For the most part, this reflects on certain company values. It is rare that an organisation features the people who do backend work on marketing collateral, because these are often viewed as two distinct sectors. H&M obviously believes that their employees — no matter the job description — are fit to represent them, and this move aims to celebrate those who “have their own unique take on [the] brand”. 

Why not just hire Influencers? 

  1. Loyalty to the Brand is not a question — Employees of H&M already have a strong brand affinity. 
  2. Familiarity with the Product and brand values — Considering these ambassadors already work for H&M in different capacities, they are already aligned with the brand vision.
  3. Cost-Effectiveness & Low CPE — Hiring influencers can be expensive, but there seems to be no need to seek and bear the additional cost of external parties when the marketing team can leverage on followings that their staff already has.

These are all characteristics that the ideal nano and micro influencers should have; who would have thought to look at existing employees first?

In this article I take a deeper look at 4 of these Employee Ambassadors, and how their “sponsored content” has been performing on Instagram. 

1 – Torian | @_harlemwilliams (3.5K followers)

Torian’s top performing post on Instagram is a picture of him at Paris Fashion Week, decked out in high street fashion. He has already established himself as someone interested and well-versed in the fashion industry over the years. 

A cursory look at his profile confirms his status as a nano influencer even further, alongside being a creative and personal stylist. What the H&M employee ambassador scheme has allowed him to do is marry two kinds of careers — online fashion and offline styling. 

Apart from just H&M, Torian has had a history of collaborating (or at least reppin’) a bunch of other high street brands. 

H&M stands to benefit greatly from this, because Torian has carved out a niche and a following which they can leverage on, the same way they would with an external influencer. Additionally, 93% of his followers from the US, which is always an amazing plus point of working with smaller influencers. 

Not only does he have a captive audience, the content he posts on behalf of H&M will be streamlined. When they run regional campaigns, this will turn a very high ROI. 

2 – Morenike | @visual.lush (4.6K followers) 

All of her top performing posts this year are related to the #HMinsider stint, and the post that announces her ambassadorship ranks as the top liked and top commented post on her feed

Even prior to becoming a H&M ambassador, Morenike-Abiola was quite the fashionista, and her feed drifts between various hues of reds, oranges, and browns. Her followers clearly appreciate this, with 84% of them indicating an interest in beauty. 

Her engagement rate is well average for a nano influencer based in the US, and picked up very obviously since she began her role as a H&M employee ambassador.

H&M has caught her at the brink of what looks to be a successful social media presence, and this will be mutually beneficial to both the brand as well as Morenike. 

3 – Antonio | @theantoniomostajo (17.2K followers) 

Antonio is a micro influencer and also has a very particular, curated aesthetic to his feed. His second most liked post this year is a ‘sponsored post’ for H&M, which shows how much his followers appreciate this collaboration. 

Additionally, he has experienced a steady follower growth over this past year. Positive audience growth is key when brands decide whether or not to work with a micro influencer, so this is a great sign. 

4 – Taylor | @forever.overdressed (33.2K followers) 

The final employee ambassador I wanted to expound on is Taylor, who has the highest following in this list, but is still considered a micro influencer. Both her top liked and top commented posts this year are in her capacity as a H&M Insider, which tells us that her audience appreciates this content too. 

What I found interesting and positive for the brand is the fact that Taylor has been using the hashtag “HMxme” long before she was appointed an Employee Ambassador. 

This suggests her loyalty and genuine interest in the brand, which is often what brands look for when sourcing for influencers. Generally, smaller influencers who have been organically promoting the brand without being paid tend to have greater brand affinity and overall performance than larger influencers who are simply paid to create content. 

Like the other ambassadors in this list, the majority of her followers already show an interest in beauty which means that her content on behalf of H&M will continue to be well (if not better) received. 

Benefits for both the Brand & the Ambassador 

What H&M has essentially done by implementing this scheme is remove the need for sourcing external influencers, thus allowing them to redirect their marketing budget into other areas. It is also important to note that the employee ambassadors they have chosen to work with are upcoming nano and micro influencers, which is generally the demographic that marketers target in the first place. 

More importantly, they are giving their employees a chance to do something beyond a day-to-day Personal Shopper, Sales Assistant, or Public Relations task. All of these employees have a keen eye for fashion and are in the process of building their influencer presence on Instagram. By partnering with a brand like H&M, the employees benefit from exposure, and the brand benefits from dedicated and well-informed ambassadors

Written by Deesha Menon

Influencer Marketing at Popular Chips. Interested in social issues, narratives, books, social media, and machine learning.

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