Have you ever heard of brand ambassadors? This is an interesting side gig available to those working both online and off, and it’s a great opportunity for the right people. But is being a brand ambassador right for you? Let’s take a closer look.
What Is a Brand Ambassador?
Every time a big Hollywood star appears in a commercial, he or she is being a brand ambassador. Every time an athlete does an interview wearing their sponsoring company’s athletic clothing, they’re being a brand ambassador.
Brand ambassadors have essentially been “sponsored” by a company to promote that company’s product across specific platforms or events.
Visual advertising is built on the foundation of presenting someone the audience wants to be like, doing something with the product being marketed. If you’re a young woman and you flip through a magazine and see a beautiful young woman in a picture, looking like she’s having fun splashing around on an exotic beach, there’s a part of you that will probably want to go to that same beach resort. And some of the young women who see that ad will go and book a vacation there.
There are two main categories of brand ambassadors today; Online and Offline. They are much the thing but have their differences as well.
In-Person Brand Ambassadors
Have you ever been to a baseball game or “taste of the city” event and noticed those smiling, happy people handing out samples of the latest sports drink or branded swag? They all have matching t-shirts and matching enthusiasm? Those are brand ambassadors.
These brand ambassadors may be responsible for handing out samples, event set-up and teardown, greeting people and simply introducing new people to their brand. These may be one-off events or ongoing relationships. They can pay anywhere from $15/hour up to $100/hour.
Online Brand Ambassadors
Being an online brand ambassador is the same idea, except the audience is your audience and they see you using a product. Your “job” as a brand ambassador is to show how great the product is, and motivate the people in your audience to buy it for themselves. The main difference between what we generally consider a “sponsored post” and a “brand ambassador” is the ambassador opportunity is often an ongoing gig. You may have to write a series of posts or social media updates over a longer period of time. The company may send you their new product line every season. In many cases, you will also be asked to attend events either sponsored by the company or as a representative of the company.
As a brand ambassador in an online relationship, you might do Instagram posts with a funny picture of you wearing a bright shade of the company’s specified lipstick. You might run a giveaway on your blog. You might take an adventure in a sponsored camper and document the whole thing on your YouTube channel. It’s all about showing up wherever you’ve built your audience and promoting the company or product in a way that’s engaging.
Your goal is to come up with something interesting that you can do with the product you’re featuring and then feature it on the platform you’ve agreed to. You might have some rigid guidelines from the company (like a certain number of Instagram posts, with a certain number of words, containing specific hashtags, to be posted within a specific timeframe), but you might also have a lot of leeway. Amazon Influencers are required to actually create storefronts on Amazon’s site.
What do you need to be a brand ambassador?
- Enthusiastic and friendly personality
Whether you have an audience already or you’re starting from scratch, there are a few things every great brand ambassador has in common:
- Passion and enthusiasm for their niche
- Consistent posting schedule and interaction with commenters
- Quality content (the images are nice, the graphics are sharp, the writing is good) that ideally solves problems
- Longevity (or a commitment to it)
If you don’t already have your platform set up (on Instagram or YouTube, for example, which is where a lot of the brand ambassador buzz is right now) then you need to go ahead and get started. If you can build up a following of 1,000 or more, you’re onto something!
I can’t stress enough the importance of having quality, consistent content. You want to project a consistent “feel” across all of your posts, especially if you’re on a visual platform like Instagram. Pick a niche that you’re really interested in, and keep your content relevant to that topic. Solve problems by making helpful tips, presenting new ideas, curating other great posts you find, and — this is critical — staying engaged with your followers. Answer their questions, take their feedback, and give them the things they’re asking for.
How do you become a brand ambassador?
If you live near a large city, you are in luck. Almost every event, concert, game, has brand ambassadors present in some form. For these gigs, look on:
- Facebook: search for your city brand ambassador
- Craigslist: look in the Gigs > Events category
- Fusion Event Staffing
- Attack! Marketing
The fastest way to start being a brand ambassador online is to pitch yourself to the companies you already know and like. My guiding principle for everything I’ll promote is that I need to actually like and/or use it, and that’s a great place to start when you’re thinking about companies to pitch. It’s much easier to pitch yourself to a brand (and win!) if you’re already a fan.
When you’re ready to take the leap, there are a few things you can do. The first is to put yourself out there. Reach out directly to some of your favorite companies. Try to find their media or marketing managers by searching on LinkedIn or even Google. Not sure where to start? Then start making a list of the company that’s being promoted every time you see a brand ambassador in action. If they’re hiring that person, they might hire you, too!
The other thing you can do is make yourself available to brands who work with brand ambassadors by going through third parties. Contact influencer marketing agencies about your availability, and see if you can get on the rosters for influencer listing services. (Not sure how to find them? Try searching for terms like “influencer marketing agency” or “influencer listing service.”) You can also find private networks to join that will put you in touch with brands.
And of course, make sure you have a media kit on your website and contact information on all of your platforms so that you’re easy to get ahold of.
What do companies look for in an online brand ambassador?
There are a few things you need to do to set yourself apart. First, you need to conduct yourself professionally at all times. Respond quickly, answer all questions, and do what you promise. Take it seriously — it’s a job, after all!
Another thing you’ll need to do is have solid engagement with your followers. You’ll need followers if you’re going to be attractive to any kind of company, so if you’ve been able to build a fan base, then keep doing what you’re doing. The more engagement you have with your followers, the more you’ll have to offer to the brand — followers who are engaged with you are naturally going to care about what you say, and they’re more likely to become buyers.
What’s the catch?
There is no catch here. However, even though the pay can be great, it can often take some time to get paid as you are usually being paid by a third party. Also, these are usually one-time events meaning you can’t depend on this for regular and consistent pay. You will also be an independent contractor. That means you will be responsible for all expenses and taxes.
There isn’t really a “catch” when it comes to being an online brand ambassador, but there are a few things you should know, especially when it comes to your compensation. While in-person ambassadorships can pay great, sometimes brands (especially smaller brands) will want to pay you in free products instead of money in these online arrangements. It may still be worth it, but if you are spending five hours on content for $25 in product probably not.
The other thing you need to be extremely diligent about is following the guidelines. When you get into an agreement with a company to be their ambassador, you’ll most likely sign a contract and there will be some rules you’ll need to follow. If you break the rules or don’t follow all the guidelines, you might forfeit your payment. Don’t stress out about it — just be sure that you’re on top of the requirements before you sign the contract, and review them before you publish your ambassador post.