Opinion: Being a brand ambassador can be a unique job opportunity for students

Endorsing companies on social media has its risks and rewards

Social media use is at an all-time high, which means that the messages sent by users are more public and more important than ever.

Companies are taking advantage of the marketing options social media platforms provide, and college students are a large part of that. In order to most effectively advertise their products, companies typically target social media users with large followings.

Social media brand ambassadors are people who advertise, endorse and sometimes sell a company's products. 

Many ASU students are already a part of the brand ambassador community, and due to the popularity of social media sites, it is likely that more will be joining soon. 

Gaining brand ambassador status isn't easy, but if students have a means of amassing a large enough following on social media, monetizing it could be a smart option. 

Becoming a brand ambassador could be a great option for students, but it's important they know about the company and the product they would potentially endorse in order to protect their own reputations.

Students need to understand the products they endorse could reflect on their values, even if that is not their intention. These endorsements can also reflect on the other organizations that students are a part of — whether that be school, work or campus communities.

Given how anonymous the online community can be, aspiring ambassadors must vet their potential endorsements to ensure they know what they're advocating. 

If students are cautious when considering becoming brand ambassadors, there are a lot of potential benefits.

Miranda Gallagher, a Southern New Hampshire University criminology junior and It Works! brand ambassador, said she quit her job and now works as a brand ambassador as a means of income. 

"Being a brand ambassador is beneficial for college students because they're in complete control of how much money they make," she said. 

Students are already busy with homework and extracurriculars, which means a traditional job isn't always a viable option. As long as students are aware of what being a brand ambassador would entail, it poses a convenient opportunity to earn money remotely.

"Being a distributor for my company specifically has allowed me to work directly from my phone," Gallagher said. "This helps me and can help other students focus more on school work than they may be able to if they're working a part or full time job."

Networking is one of the most important parts of college, but it can be difficult for some students. 

"Becoming a distributor or network marketer is a great way to make connections," Gallagher said. "Personally, I've always been quieter, but since joining this business, I've made so many amazing friends and met amazing ladies from all different places and backgrounds."

Working closely with companies and developing professional relationships at a young age allows students to gain experience before entering the work force.

"I think that starting with companies this early can really open up opportunities for future careers," said Emily Pederson, ASU freshman journalism student and brand ambassador for companies catering to dogs and their owners. "The best part of my experience has been learning how to professionally work with these organizations." 

Pederson first started her brand ambassador journey with an Instagram account for her golden retriever puppy, Ollie. She originally started the account for fun two years ago, but the account got very popular and has now grown to over 55,000 followers.

Now, through her account, Pederson endorses organizations like Sniff & Barkens and products lines like luggage company Away. 

If students research the companies they want to work with and advertise products tastefully, becoming a brand ambassador could provide connections that will be helpful in the future.

"This has been a very good way to network and make connections because I have to go through public relations reps for the companies that I'm representing." Pederson said. "As a journalism major, I'm actually going into PR myself. I've been doing this for over two years now and have made so many connections that can actually help me in my future."

Reach the columnist at adunn11@asu.edu or follow @adrienne_dunn on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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