The Influencers Among Us
by Connyr Lu
Photo courtesy of Bonnie Ngai
Miranda Xie (COM ’21) sifted through her assortment of makeup products early in the morning in attempts to find her Sephora Collection lipstick. While browsing, she pictured how she would pose in an hour or two and how to hold the lipstick as naturally as possible; as a campus ambassador for the Sephora Collection and official member of the #SephoraSquad, she needed to meet her biweekly requirements of posting a Sephora-related post on Instagram.
Xie isn’t the only brand ambassador on BU campus. She, along with Bonnie Ngai (QST ’22), are the two BU students representing the Sephora Collection brand, but there are many other students who represent a variety of brands on campus, such as Ngai, who used to also represent Hallmark and Girls Who Invest.
The role of a campus brand ambassador can be placed in that category of not being a job, but not being just a hobby, either. Student ambassadors have heavy social media posting requirements. The Instagram posting requirements for Xie and Ngai as Sephora Collection brand ambassadors are to post to their feeds once every two weeks, and to post to their stories every week.
“It’s something that’s always on the back of my mind,” Xie said. “But you get really good content out of it, and it’s a creative form of marketing. If you’re interested in marketing, it’s a really good start to get into the field.”
Ngai had similar thoughts, saying that her current role is more of a hobby to her, since she truly enjoys what she does.
“This is something that really builds my career up,” Ngai explained. “This is a good opportunity, and it’s free makeup, at the end of the day.”
Though many students take on this role for fun and for their own benefit, that isn’t to say that there aren’t times that feel more chore-like.
Geneve Lau (COM ’21) has taken on multiple ambassadorship roles with an assortment of brands, ranging from NovaShine, a teeth whitening company, to her current position with Rent the Runway, an online service that allows you to rent designer clothing and accessories.
Lau loves and believes in the brands she’s worked with, but admitted that there were times that were stressful for her - particularly when a company would enforce strict posting requirements, or change the posting requirements unexpectedly. Student ambassadors already need to plan their schedules by taking into account the time it takes to set up for a photo or take multiple photos, and having harsh guidelines with less leniency means that students need to put more analysis and thought into how they’ll take the photo.
“It’s more than just learning how to pose your body,” Lau added. “It’s also about creativity.”
Besides that, however, Lau, Ngai and Xie all agree that if there is a brand offering ambassadorships whose mission goals and values align with yours, you should go for the opportunity. Not only do ambassadors receive packages with free gifts and samples, but they also get to build lasting connections and experience what it’s like to represent a company.
Lau also mentioned that if the timing is right, you could even get hired by the company.
Ambassadorships are often offered by companies whose target audiences consist of college students or young adults. Social media and influencer outreach has only been rapidly increasing with the widespread use of technology.
“We’re always on our phones,” Ngai said. “And besides, influencer marketing gains so much revenue. If you see your friend or someone you know using a product, you’ll buy it because you trust them.”
It’s this logic that causes some people to question if influencers or ambassadors actually use the products they endorse, but Lau, Ngai and Xie have also answered similarly when reflecting upon their own decisions to take on their roles.
“It’s very important to enjoy the brand you’re working for, because if I didn’t enjoy Sephora Collection products, then I would feel really guilty telling my friends and my followers to buy those products,” Xie said.
Student ambassadors take on a lot of responsibility in deciding to represent a brand, but ultimately the experience is what they make of it. If they truly enjoy the brand they collaborate with, then the perks are most definitely a positive, as is the chance to potentially get a full-time job offer out of it. And, besides that, it’s fun!
“It’s like my getaway from school,” Ngai reflected, smiling. “I like taking and editing photos, and that’s why I do this.”