Traditional advertising campaigns don’t have the same effect that they used to do, especially when talking about young audiences.
As Gen Z becomes more skeptical of ads, they are relying heavily on both in-person and virtual opinion leaders and market mavens to introduce their next purchases.
This new generation is changing the way marketers think about selling.
Gen Z thinks of brands as an extension of themselves, meaning that they are holding brands against higher standards. Disingenuous practices don’t go with them.
On the other hand, student ambassadors’ main purpose is to build a community and introduce the benefits of a brand through genuine interactions.
You might be confused about what that means.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of building a student ambassador program for your brand so you can start making plans on reaching Gen Z.
But first, what is a student ambassador?
A student ambassador, or student brand ambassador, is a college student who is invited by an organization to promote them in a positive way to their networks through online and offline activities.
Usually, this term is used for colleges that invite students to promote them to people who are deciding which college to go to.
The idea is that they have experience being a student for that institution, so graduating high school students can get a better idea and potentially join.
However, this concept also applies to brands whose target demographic is college students.
Instead of talking about a college, they talk about a brand. And instead of high school students, they talk to other college students.
Now, let’s talk about the benefits of having a student ambassador program.
Student ambassadors put a familiar face to brands
We have talked about student ambassadors as if they are more trustworthy than traditional ads.
You might have doubts about that fact, but in reality, they are a lot more trustworthy to consumers than you might think.
92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over any type of advertising.
Student ambassadors are authentic parts of a college community, so when they talk about a brand it feels genuine.
It will feel this way if you choose the right ambassadors. People who love your brand and who want others to enjoy it as well.
Recommended: How to Find the Right Student Ambassadors
You have to remember that Gen Z doesn’t want a brand doing disingenuous things to get them to buy things. They want to support brands that are honest to them.
Getting a group of students that support your brand to help you build and be part of a community is an honest way of reaching your consumers.
By tapping into student ambassadors, brands are able to not only connect with their online audience, but connect with students’ networks.
Students are constantly meeting new people through classes, sports, campus activities, and social events.
They’re able to share their love for the brand through social media, events, and more with their friends and peers.
Instead of having a celebrity or macro-influencer endorse a brand or product to their followers who are less likely to trust them, student ambassadors can share their genuine love for a brand to people that see them as a reliable source of good product recommendations.
Trusted student ambassadors = referrals that convert better. In the next point we will prove this fact.
Student ambassadors are more effective than ads
We have established that people trust other people when they tell them a product is good or bad, but does that mean that the referred person will convert?
Well, it’s a lot more likely than if they saw an ad.
In fact, referred customers convert 30% better than nonreferred customers, and have a 16% higher lifetime value. In addition, customers acquired through recommendations spend 2 times more and make twice as many referrals themselves.
It’s clear that other people’s opinions have a significantly higher influence on purchasing decisions than ads.
As we live in a time where people are constantly consuming both content and products more than ever, trustworthy messaging is critical to cut through the noise.
This is why people often turn to their friends for honest reviews and recommendations.
This way, they’re able to avoid listening to someone who may be promoting a product even if they don’t like it.
Brand ambassadors are more successful when they believe in your brand and products because they can talk about you honestly. That’s what Gen Z wants.
And it shows, as you can see from the statistics we just mentioned.
Students know other students. But those other students don’t know you.
When your student ambassador posts a picture with your product, now the other students will be introduced to your brand.
So when they are looking to purchase a product like the one you offer, they will remember that their friend recommended your brand in a post.
That simple interaction is very valuable to brands. As we have explained before, people will trust recommendations and act on them a high percentage of the time.
But the first step is to be on their radar.
To put things into perspective, take a look at the following example:
That post alone has reached over 2.4 million views at the time of posting this article.
Who else better to spread a message among college students than a group of college students?
Although people may not convert to a customer right away, they are able to consider your brand when they need to make a purchase.
How to start a student brand ambassador program
Now you know the benefits of having a student ambassador program. The next step is to start planning your strategy.
In this section, we will give you a quick rundown of the things you have to consider for your strategy.
What are your goals?
To create a successful plan you need to know what your end goal is. Do you want to drive brand awareness, trust, sales?
It’s important to define which is your biggest goal because just hiring student ambassadors, sending them free products, and leaving the rest to them is not going to give you results.
You will probably lose time and money by using this approach.
So think about what you want to achieve and start identifying activities that your student ambassadors can do.
When defining your goals, make sure you include building a community and offering a genuine experience to people.
Those two goals involve improving other parts of your business, but it’s important to start thinking this way to be remembered by Gen Z and any other generation.
Create your ideal ambassador profile
Knowing your goals will help you determine exactly what type of student you need for your campaign.
- Do you want students with a large social media presence?
- Students who can perform in-person activities?
- Students involved in sports activities?
Build a profile with the characteristics you want in student ambassadors. In general, look for students who are already fans of your brand, who seem social, and involved in their college community.
There are many characteristics that you can consider when building the perfect profile. Once you’re comfortable with it, it’s time to start looking for them.
We wrote an article about finding the perfect student ambassadors for your brand, so make sure you check that out.
Also, check out our Ultimate Student Ambassador Guide for 2021 if you want to learn more about building a successful student brand ambassador program.
Recommended: How to Train Student Ambassadors
Final thoughts on student ambassadors
As advertisements become more difficult and competitive to get through to consumers, a real-life advocate is able to bring brands to life through the power of word of mouth recommendations.
If your brand plans on targeting Gen Z, student ambassadors will be your most valuable marketing asset.
This strategy is quickly growing, so you might want to get in early.