With the rise of Social Media, came the rise of Ambassador programs. The idea was great at first, get a herd of kids hungry for free product to light a fire under your word-of-mouth marketing. Was the idea brilliant at first? Yes. So where did it go wrong?
Generally speaking, Ambassadors will have a “code” that gives their followers a discount on products, and allows you to track their effectiveness. It was a great idea when it first started out, and kids would work hard to earn their swag, in the same vein as selling cookie dough for a school fundraiser in order to earn prizes. As the years have gone on, it has turned more into an odd status symbol. Reach a certain level on your businesses’ Instagram account, and you will find your inbox full of (mostly) children DEMANDING to be Ambassadors, whether or not they have any significant number of followers or generate attractive, marketable content on their accounts. We have created a generation of people so used to being able to attain freebies from companies that they now have zero loyalty and no sense of value for the products they receive. It’s just ask – receive – move on.
So – what do we do now? The best advice that I can give you is to find what works best for your business and grow from there. If your only goal is to get your name recognized by as many humans as possible, go ahead, build that ambassador army! But if your goal is to increase sales and build a loyal audience who values your product, your time is best spent elsewhere. (Read: Not wrangling a herd of children who have zero real-world reason to do your bidding. They’re not employees, they aren’t even interns. They’re kids with Instagram accounts, and even if you DO send them products, they are under no contractual obligation to do any work for you.)