I’ve had a few messages lately on Instagram from followers asking about how they can become ambassadors or influencers for their favourite brands.
In the age of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat – there is a growing community of brands doing advertising through social media. Having advocates for your brand is one of the best things you can do to sell your product. It’s real people, out in the field, using and loving your gear. Whether its hammocks or outdoor clothing – they can sell their brand through the users experience. The users will then blog, post photos, make videos and promote that company and the free product they’ve been given.
I usually take a few days to respond to messages because it’s not as easy as people may think. It takes time and a certain level of commitment to your social platforms that most people don’t have. I didn’t wake up one day and have brands giving me handouts.
How it all started:
My Instagram was slow going in the beginning. It took me some time to figure out how it all worked: Hashtags, ambassadors, followers, suggested users, tagging, likes…it was all a learning curve.
I started with just posting photos whenever I did an interesting adventure (climbing, hiking, skiing – sports mostly.) And slowly I grew a following from my lifestyle and being authentic.
The first brand I ever worked with was Static Climbing Chalk Bags – Taylor reached out to me on Instagram about joining their team in October of 2014. I was ecstatic to say the least. I didn’t fully understand how it all worked but I was stoked and ready to dive in to that world.
Since then I have a variety of contracts with some of my favourite brands (Mountain Hardwear, GoPro, Meier skis, Topoathletic and the list goes on).
I started this website a few years back and it’s been a great tool for companies to see all my passions and how I can work with their image and vision. Most brands have contacted me via email or private message on Instagram. Usually there is an introduction, contract to look over and back and forth discussions about how you will work together.
The Ups and Downs:
Most brands I am involved with are absolute joys to work with. Each one usually has a direct contact person whom you can send questions and ideas to anytime. It’s a pretty painless process to get product and work it into your lifestyle.
On some occasions though, I have been contacted by companies that have a vibe or product that I can’t connect with. Either the style doesn’t fit for me or the product is something I would never use. It’s hard in the beginning to not just jump on board to get free things in the mail. But in the long run, you are so much better off building a real and lasting connection with a brand that you actually respect. Brands that could eventually pay you for your work or maybe even sponsor a trip for you.
You’ll perhaps get a chance to work with a brand you’ve always hoped for but you may also lose brands due to budget or other reasons. You may not click with the brands vision or perhaps you can’t keep up with their contract demands. That’s OK! There will always be other companies and opportunities that come from your exposer (even if brief) with being an influencer.
All the successful Instagram users have themes. Not to say I’m a successful Instagrammer and have all the answers but I’ve been using it long enough to give some advice!
When you are trying to grow your audience and get noticed by brands, make sure that you are posting things that relate to those companies. If you are a skier that wants Smith Optics to notice you – post skiing photos! They don’t want to see you tag them in your dinner or cat photo (I mean maybe they do but you get my point). Post things that show who you are and what your passions are. Be consistent with your posts, use relevant hashtags and keep your feed flowing. Outdoor brands (if that’s your thing) usually have a hashtag they use on all their posts – for example: Mountain Hardwear uses #findingwinter or #fromthetribe. These will get your photos in the correct category and hopefully noticed by the brand.
Post often – but not too often. It’s okay to post a photo everyday but not okay to post 3. Clogging up people’s feeds will only prompt them to unfollow you. Not because they don’t enjoy your feed but too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing.
Aside from getting free product, getting paid or having cool opportunities – being an ambassador offers exposure for you. If you love writing, photography or have a talent you want to showcase, a brand can really help you there. Being posted on a social platform from a brand with a large following will push that audience towards you! The best example I have for this is GoPros Instagram – they have 10 million+ followers and great post engagement. When they share one of my photos I will instantly get 300 – 500 followers over the course of the day. It’s a win win.
Tips and Tricks:
Don’t let the influencing work completely absorb you. Stay true to your style and collaborate with brands that compliment your work. It’s okay to post photos without product placement or hashtags. It’s not a full time job and if it becomes that – you should be on the payroll.
Be creative! Think of ways besides just product promoting that you can associate with the brand you are representing. Ask to write a review article or photo essay, get your voice out there using their blogs and discussion forums.
Networking and Follow up:
Always stay in contact with the brands you are working with. Check in on a monthly basis and be sure to send them photos and ideas that you’d like to collaborate on. Staying in touch will ensure that you stay on the team.
Networking is key to the ambassador world. If there is a brand you really want to work with don’t be afraid to reach out to them. Shoot them an email and state how you think you would fit in with their label. Introducing yourself can go a long way!
Know when enough is enough:
Choose wisely. Find companies you love and that love you! Don’t take on multiple brands that are creating similar material. Look at your hobbies and say yes to the contracts that will work with your lifestyle and posting habits. Having a big ambassador list doesn’t make you more appealing to brands. Right now I have a handful of contracts with no plans to grow for now. I’ve turned down some in order to fully commit to the ones I already have.
Feel free to contact me with any questions on this!