So you’ve been on social media for a hot minute and steadily gaining followers. You’ve most likely developed a taste for specific brands and products. At some point sooner or later you’ve caught on that tagging brands on your posts attracts the attention of others.
For me, my classic WSS (wrist, shoes, story) format (or is it the other way around?) started gaining traction (and likes) whenever I tagged specific brands of the products featured. And as the likes rolled in, I started to realize my profile was free advertising of products and services and I wanted to find a way to “cash in” on the opportunity.
Brand Ambassador Programs
Most brands open up applications to influencers, looking for people to represent their brand on social media. They typically offer up a nice discount on products and sometimes include you on upcoming sales, deals, and possibly new products. Being a brand ambassador does have it’s perks, especially for brands you use on a constant basis. You’ll know when it’s that time of the year because these brands go all out in recruiting ambassadors.
Rejection, It’s Complicated
A few years ago, I was finding my feet on social media and saw these opportunities to apply for ambassador programs. I eagerly filled out application after application and one by one, received rejection after rejection. It sort of tainted my feelings for specific brands, and I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Ironically, the brands I so desperately wanted to be associated with, I don’t even use or follow anymore.
Rejection can either make you want something more or turn you away completely. For some brands, it turned me away, but for some, it made that connection so much more desirable. It became a goal of mine to become a brand ambassador for a few key brands and I found myself focusing more on my content to build an audience.
After focusing on building my own “brand” the following year when those same applications opened up, I eagerly applied. Takeaway, focus you your brand first.
Timing is Everything
I managed to get accepted into most of the brands that I applied to. It was overwhelming, to say the least, but it felt awesome to update my social handles with the brand’s hashtags and my new affiliations. I wanted to fit in so bad, and I got what I wanted, and then some.
So How about you?
Taken from a post I made a while back, here are my key takeaways for becoming a Brand Ambassador. 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 thought 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. I try my best to make sure I market any consumable product that I’m using and enjoying – yes, the photos looked staged so try your best to put a spin on presenting different products.
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.
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.