Ambassador Programs: Things to Consider

Many companies offer an ambassador program of some sorts to their social media following. These programs are a great way for companies to gain exposure in their particular industry. Since I’m a runner this will primarily focus on the running community, but I’m sure there is a program for just about every industry you can imagine.

What’s unique about an ambassador program is that it allows a company to utilize its followers on social media as means for low-cost, if not free, advertising. What’s also appealing about these programs is that the advertising is done by its actual users, and comes across as an authentic endorsement.

Again, all of this comes at a minimal cost to the company, when compared to traditional advertising. Most ambassador programs include a 30-50% off discount on products and services. Companies want you to buy and support their brand, so they’re going to entice you with all kinds of special offers and deals. And since this is an exclusive program, it creates quite the buzz on social media.

Some companies go above and beyond and not only offer a sweet discount, but also send its ambassadors care packages that include some of their featured products and or services, and most importantly ambassador exclusive swag. I mean, c’mon, how else will someone identify you as an ambassador without that sweet exclusive branded gear

Being an ambassador can also grant you access to exclusive online communities or groups, and puts you in the loop (so to speak) on new and upcoming products, special releases, etc. And lastly, it can also help boost exposure for everyday athletes like you and me, by way of the company featuring your social profiles on their site, or commenting or tagging you in a post.

So how do you get started? Here are the three key takeaways that I’ve learned: good, bad, indifferent, the following advice is based on my experience with ambassador programs, your mileage may vary.

First and foremost, before you apply to be an ambassador for a brand… the number one thing I cannot stress enough:

KEY TAKEAWAY 1: MAKE SURE YOU USE THE PRODUCT!

It’s hard to be selected as an ambassador if you don’t use the product yourself. From the company’s perspective, it comes across that you are just looking to be picked up based on your social media following. Listen, we all like free stuff, so becoming an ambassador can be really fun and enticing, but companies aren’t looking for freeloaders. Trust me, I’ve done this and failed horribly.

Lesson learned: Companies want to see active users of their products who are engaged and already singing the praises of those products.

Bottom line: Practice what you preach and only apply to specific brands of products you use. If you see a new product or a new company and want to be an ambassador, buy their products, use them, promote them, engage with them, don’t freeload.

The second piece of advice when it comes to being an ambassador, think about the product and how you’re going to feature it in your profile.

Let me say that again for the people in the back row:

KEY TAKEAWAY 2: HOW ARE YOU GOING TO FEATURE THE PRODUCT?

Is it something that can be easily tagged in a photo, is it a product you can wear or something you need to consume? Consider how easy (or difficult) it is to “show” your affiliation with that particular brand or service on your social media platform of choice.

For example I love BOCO Gear products, they make hats, gloves, backpacks, you name it. It’s all the gear that I wear and use every day that I honestly don’t have to think about. Before going for a run, I grab my trusty go-to BOCO Gear hat, and I’m out the door. It’s quick, it’s easy, and when I’m snapping photos for social media there’s very little hassle in making sure I include their brand. It is a part of my lifestyle.

Lesson learned: Think about the amount of effort you’re going to need to exercise or put out to feature a product or service. If you must put a lot of work into showcasing something, chances are, after a while you’re just going to stop putting out the effort.

A prime example would be sports or energy drinks, or other consumables like gels, snacks, etc. If it’s something you don’t have access to everyday or something that is not a part of your routine or lifestyle, chances are you’re going to struggle to make it work and after a while it will become too much of a hassle to share on social media.

Side note: Professionals who are endorsed by consumables are given crazy amounts of stock and don’t have to worry about always buying more to have on hand. Even if you get an insane discount on consumables, don’t go broke just for a few likes.

I know I’ve struggled with making consumables work, however, if that’s your jam and you’ve found a way to pull it off, good for you! Please share how you do it in the comments below because that is the one niche market, I struggle with featuring on my social media profile.

The third and final piece of advice, it’s kind of like bringing the first two items altogether, consider how much commitment you can offer this company or brand, and what’s really in it for you. After all, you are offering free advertising on your social media platform, you’re investing your time and energy, how will you be compensated?

Again, this may come across as being completely selfish, but:

KEY TAKEAWAY 3: WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU?

Remember, it’s okay to say “no”. I love new opportunities and I’m always enticed by new things, but I tend to overcommit and that never ends well. If you are looking to foster a good relationship with a brand partner, consider the bottom line. How much commitment is required, and what’s in it for you?

Do you feel good about and identify with their brand, and most importantly can you give 100%.

I’ve cut ties with brands that I love, not because I don’t like them, but as an ambassador, I didn’t feel like I was being of service to them.

Lesson learned: Some ambassador programs aren’t going to meet your expectations.

For me personally, I wasn’t interested in just sharing upcoming sales on social media. As an ambassador I’m looking to be engaged and I want to know what’s in it for me?

So before you fill out that application: Are you interested in becoming an ambassador for the title, maybe the sweet discount, maybe it’s the free stuff, or are you just another social media user posting the same promotional imagery that everyone else is sharing?

The best piece of advice I have to offer: Consider what it really means to you and pursue only the things you are passionate about.

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