Building brand awareness on college campuses can be very challenging unless you have a community of student ambassadors.
But why would it be challenging in the first place?
Because Gen Z is different.
Traditional advertising campaigns won’t have good results because consumers have lost trust in them. Ads still have a place in marketing, but for Gen Z specifically, you should start thinking about making a change to your marketing.
Without the trust of consumers, new products they find through advertising won’t get serious consideration. This happens because they are used to seeing false advertising.
Your benefits will get lost in the noise because most people won’t trust them in the first place. If you are targeting college students and young people, this will happen more often.
This is where student ambassadors come in.
With one in four Gen Z women saying they learn about new products from social media influencers, brands need to tap into college students with influence to harness the power of word of mouth.
But student ambassadors not only perform online activities like user generated content, but they can also do in-person promotion through social events.
Before we get into the benefits of student brand ambassadors, let’s take a look at the definition to clear things up.
What is a student brand ambassador?
A student brand ambassador is a college student who is invited by an organization to represent them and promote them in a positive light through online and offline activities.
A student can become an ambassador independently of their social media followers. However, many brands choose students who have an above-average social media presence. A thousand followers, for example.
A student ambassador with that amount of followers can be categorized as a nano-influencer.
Another source of confusion surrounding this term is who they can promote.
Many colleges have student ambassador programs to promote their institution to people who are choosing a college. This strategy is very beneficial because young people trust the opinions of others with first-hand experience.
But student ambassadors can also represent any type of brand.
Another thing to consider is that student ambassadors are also chosen based on their connection with the organization. This makes the promotion genuine because they actually like your products or services.
The whole point of student ambassadors is to market through honesty and genuine interactions.
So, what are the benefits of student ambassadors?
Not only do student ambassadors help to bring authenticity to any brand, but they are eager to assist in the growth of brands they themselves feel connected to.
While it may seem like a daunting task to create a student ambassador program, we outlined a couple of the major benefits of incorporating student brand ambassadors into your marketing strategy to help you get started.
Student ambassadors help you get hyperlocal
One of the biggest advantages of establishing a student ambassador program is the hyper localized marketing opportunities they offer.
For college students, life in and out of school revolves around the campus, so the connections they have are a very niche circle of influence.
Students know all the campus hot spots, where they are likely to capture the biggest audience, and what kinds of events or activations will work the best for their peers.
This helps bring authentic brand awareness to a subsect of consumers, Gen Z, who are known to be extremely wary about trusting brands or positively engaging with traditional advertising.
In addition, your new audience will mostly be located in the same state, since they all go to the same college. Meaning there is a huge opportunity for expanding your brand to states where you are not known yet.
Events like music festivals also benefit greatly from the hyperlocal aspect of employing student ambassadors.
Just think about it. Who goes to music festivals? Mostly young people who go to college in the same state as the festival or neighboring states.
By tapping into students who know how to appeal to their peers in a way that seems more natural, your brand can build hyperlocal awareness.
Students trust other students
Traditional advertising does not work too well with Gen Z. And that’s because they grew up watching false advertising and disingenuous content from brands.
This resulted in a general mistrust for advertising and dishonest content only meant to sell.
With this in mind, it’s no surprise that only 25% of people trust advertising.
This is why people value other people’s opinions. If someone recommends a product, it’s because they tried it and liked it enough to think that someone else could benefit from it.
The recommendation is supported by actual experience.
You might think that since ambassadors are sometimes rewarded to promote a brand, the recommendations are not 100% genuine. However, that is exactly why brands need to find the right ambassadors that actually like and believe in the brand.
A successful brand ambassador already loves the brand and would even promote it for free.
If you are looking to expand to a new market where your brand is not known, then the candidate should at least connect with your brand.
Student ambassadors have a network of influence
College is probably the most social time for a lot of people because there are so many opportunities to connect. Classes, clubs, sports, and events allow students to meet and interact with new students all the time.
This means that a student ambassador’s network is mostly made up of other students in the same college. Their circle of influence is immediately expanded just by the fact of being in college.
So the benefit here is that your ambassadors will promote your brand almost entirely to people in your target audience.
Meaning that the brand awareness you get from the campaign will be quality traffic.
Student ambassadors keep you on trend
Once a student ambassador community is established on campus, those students can be valuable assets for completing research on a variety of trends.
Consider them a built in focus group and conduct surveys to see what works and what does not with the students on each campus.
Get input on current trends and ask them what they think would be good for the brand’s content.
Having as much input, especially from people inside your target audiences, is a great way to stay fresh.
More user generated content
User generated content is any social media piece of content made by consumers for consumers.
People generally make this type of content to talk about brand experiences they had. They do it because they enjoy sharing opinions that can be helpful to others.
It is essentially online word of mouth. The benefit of having this type of content for your brand is the same for in-person recommendations.
People want to hear opinions about products and services to know if they are worth it before making purchasing decisions.
One of your student ambassadors’ main tasks will probably be to create user generated content.
More quality referrals
To many brands, this might be the main goal of this type of marketing campaign. And it’s a good thing that student brand ambassadors are great at it.
Through user generated content or in-person word of mouth recommendations, they are able to get quality referrals.
As we have established before, people trust ambassadors more than traditional advertising. So those referrals will convert better because there is a level of trust behind them.
Additional benefits of student ambassadors
It’s clear that with a student ambassador community, brands can drive awareness, trust, and referrals. But there are many other benefits that can come from it.
For example, with student ambassadors, you are growing your brand community. Through user generated content, in person promotion, referrals, events, and honest messaging.
Some of the benefits of having a healthy brand community include:
- Increasing awareness
- Increasing loyalty
- Drive growth
- More advocates
Among many others.
Check out our article on building a brand community if you want to know more.
Or take a look at our ultimate student ambassador guide to continue your journey towards a successful ambassador community.