Getting the Most Out of College Ambassadors (Without Asking for too Much)

So, your company decided to hire college brand ambassadors. You must’ve read my first article, Social Media Isn’t The Answer to Engaging College Students. Awesome!


For the sake of this article, let’s assume you had no trouble recruiting your ambassadors (that’s an article for another day). You found a team of great students and you’re ready to get them rolling.


So, first things first, what are they going to be doing? That’s easy! You want them to post on their Instagram page twice a week, post 500 flyers around campus every week, have 5 tabling events throughout the semester, and drive sales. That shouldn’t be too much, right? Wrong! Let’s break it down:


The average college student takes about 15 credits per semester (15 hours per week). You, of course, want students that are involved on-campus, so call that another 5 hours per week for organizational responsibilities. Oh, let’s not forget about homework and studying, which is another 3 hours per class per week. Altogether, students are busy about 35 hours per week doing things other than working for your brand. So, what’s left?


The biggest mistake you can make when starting a college ambassador program is asking your students to do an unrealistic amount of work. In reality, you’re going to get them for 5–10 hours per week. “But Bryan, that’s still plenty of time to do all the things you mentioned.” Wrong again, my friend.


Think back to your college years. You have a million things going on. You’re trying to excel in school, maintain a social life, participate in extra-curriculars, and hold down a job. All the while, you’re in a new place, far from home. And now, your employer wants you to commit 25 hours per week to an ambassador program. Something must go and guess what it’ll be…bingo, the ambassador program.


When utilized correctly, college students are incredibly valuable for your brand.


Here are 4 tips for not overwhelming your ambassadors and ensuring they’re going to do productive work for you:


1. KISS — Keep it Simple, Stupid. What’s the ONE thing you’re trying to accomplish on-campus? Sales? App downloads? Brand awareness? Social media presence? Consumer Insights? Something else? Whatever it may be, pick one, and stick to it. Students work best when they have a concrete goal to accomplish.


2. Set your ambassadors up for success. If you want your ambassadors to drive app downloads, give them a (realistic) weekly goal. Don’t tell them to go out and get 1,000 downloads. They’re going to fail and you’re going to look silly. Instead, talk to them. Ask them what they feel is reasonable. Somewhere between your wishful thinking and their response, is the realistic answer.


3. Be a resource, but don’t micro-manage. College students, by nature, are intelligent people. They know their campus better than you. So, give them the autonomy to go out and find the right people to talk to about your brand. If they have questions or need guidance, let them know your door is open. Check in with them a couple times per week to find out what they’re up to.


4. Ambassadors always fall into one of three groups — overachievers, coasters, and strugglers. Your overachievers should be on auto-pilot. Check in with them weekly, and they’re good to go. Your coasters are always going to hit their weekly goals, but not go above and beyond. Put them on auto-pilot, but be ready to pump the brakes if their performance begins to slip. Spend most of your time helping the strugglers improve. Share best practices that you’ve learned from the overachievers. Assure them that you believe in them. Do whatever you need to keep them motivated. However, if they’re simply not trying, don’t be afraid to let them go.


All in all, if you’ve started an ambassador program, you’re on the right track. Understand that it takes time for the program to be successful. The first semester is not going to run smoothly. But if you stick with it, set realistic goals, and listen to your students, you’re on the way to being another success story.


Ready to get started? Get in touch with University Beyond here.


What College Ambassadors Mean for Your Talent Funnel
Social Media is Not the Answer to Engaging College Students