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Should You Join A Brand Ambassador Program

should you join a brand ambassador program

One of the most common questions I get from influencers and bloggers is “should I join this ambassador program?”. And let me just be really honest here. 99% of the time I’m going to tell you absolutely not.

Let’s dive into what brand ambassadors are and why you should be wear of joining. And how they’re different than sponsored content.

Should You Join A Brand Ambassador Program

Influencer marketing is taking the world by storm, with companies shelling out billions of dollars to work with social media stars. One of the cheapest ways brands can work with influencers is through ambassador programs. A bit of free product, in exchange for FREE coverage. But there is 100% a catch.

That’s why in this article, we’ll be discussing what exactly brand ambassador programs are and if you should join them. Plus, the questions you should ask if you do want to sign up for one.

What Is A Brand Ambassador?

A brand ambassador is a person who represents a brand in a positive light and works to increase brand awareness and sales. Unlike sponsored content, brand ambassadors often have a longer-term relationship with a brand and are NOT paid to endorse products or services on an ongoing basis. Usually, this is done in exchange for FREE product as your payment.

It’s the NOT paid part that is the red flag here. Each brand ambassador program is different and you should be reading the agreement in full.

From platforms like Grin, Mavrck, Aspire IQ and Dovetale, to direct brand programs like Sarah Flint, Revolve and more, these are common practices in the influencer industry and there is a serious need for awareness and change.

This Sometimes Also Applies To Gifting

And make sure to keep an eye out for even simply gifting. Some of these platforms are sending out emails with an invite to fill out a form to receive gifted product. Or a “PR Mailer”. It is not without strings!

If you READ the terms of these agreements, you are usually agreeing to the following in exchange for a free product, or monthly payment to make purchases as you see fit.

  • Licensing image rights
  • Allowing the brand to whitelist your content
  • Allowing the brand to use your likeness in any and all digital or print campaigns in perpetuity
  • Requiring posting frequency by a certain date

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but the above terms are the definition of a paid partnership. You should be charging for these things no matter what size your audience is.

If any of the above things are confusing like licensing and whitelisting, listen up. When you create content and agree to allow a brand to do the above, you are signing away your rights to your images and video. They can use your photo on a billboard, in a SuperBowl commercial, or in a giant photo in the store nationwide.

And guess what? You don’t get paid anything.

And if a photographer took this photo of you, your photographer can technically sue you for improperly licensing their work without their consent. Which is a very real thing. And guess who is going to win? Your photographer.

Sure these ambassador programs may have an affiliate component of them. But you know what? You can probably pull a link through LTK or Collective Voice. So don’t be fooled! They are just trying to entice you to join their program so they can get all the above, for free.

This is why we highly discourage signing up for ambassador programs. Signing away rights to your content FOR FREE just to get a free pair of shoes, or some beauty products and maybe a slightly higher affiliate commission, is the biggest scam in the influencer industry happening right now.

And it has to stop.

What To Do If You Want To Sign Up For An Ambassador Program

Read The Contract

Before you agree to joining an ambassador program, READ THE CONTRACT. And make sure to also read the terms and conditions of the platform you are signing up for. As the terms are usually separate from the contract.

As you can see in the image below, this is from AspireIQ. The email I received was to sign up to be considered for a PR mailer. Newsflash, PR mailers are supposed to be free, and with no strings attached. It’s just in good faith that you share what you love.

should you join an ambassador program

By validating my IG handle, and agreeing to the terms, if I create content for this brand, Aspire.IQ then has the ability to provide those images to the brand to use however they want.

How do I know that? When I click the “terms of service” that I have to agree to, this contract pulls up. And the below paragraph is what you want to look for.

By making any of your Content available on or through the Services, you hereby grant to AspireIQ a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to create derivative works, to use, edit, view, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, host, market, transfer, display, perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, and otherwise fully utilize such Content on the Services as currently exist or may be developed in the future.

Look for the image licensing clause to see what you’re agreeing to. This is usually the indicator of agreeing to license your images and likeness in perpetuity.

This means you don’t get paid and they can use the content that you spent time and money creating so that THEY can make money off of you.

Ask For Amendments To The Contract

The brand clearly wants to work with you in some capacity. And it is 100% okay to say you want to amend a contract. This is a negotiation.

If you want them to remove the licensing clause, ask! But keep in mind they may change the contract, but if you’re on a platform like Grin or AspireIQ, you have agreed to THEIR terms which still gives the company rights to your images.

Pushing back is the only way we will see change in the industry. I urge you to draft a kind response to these asks informing brands that you do not offer your work up for free and would prefer to work in a mutually beneficial way with them.

Is It Worth It To You?

I think there may be the one-off occasion that an ambassador program may be worth it. Maybe you can get them to amend the contract, and it’s done in-store and not on a platform.

However, I think it’s very rare and hard to find ones that aren’t taking advantage of influencers left and right. But if you want to not get paid for your work, and don’t use a photographer who won’t sue you, have at it.

Do This Instead

Instead of signing up for an ambassador program that takes advantage of influencers, do this instead.

Ask For Gifted Product Instead

See if the brand is willing to gift product for potential features. Again, we don’t guarantee coverage without PROPER COMPENSATION.

Let them know you always try to share things you love and use organically and think this is a good fit. This is especially useful if you have shared the brand in the past too. Otherwise, you can not 100% guarantee coverage without the purchase of a sponsored post.

Buy The Item Yourself

A lot of the time ambassador programs want you to use their affiliate program which can be a bit annoying to have way too many you signed up for.

Sometimes it’s just easier, and honestly less cumbersome, to just buy the item you want to share and earn affiliate revenue your preferred way.

This way there are no strings attached and you can organically talk about the products you love. If you start to see sales coming in, then you’ve got yourself a great pitch to come back to the brand to see if they want to hire you for your work.

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