//PICTURED ABOVE: Grace Olsen ‘18, attended the Instagram Kindness Prom last spring as an Instagram youth ambassador. She and her colleagues at the event danced the night away while focusing on the importance of promoting kindness through social media
While scrolling through her seemingly-endless collection of the same spring break, prom or graduation party pictures on social media, a sponsored or business-related post is seldom spotted on a typical Hockadaisy’s Instagram or Facebook feed.
For followers and friends of alumnae Jenny Zhu ‘17, Catherine Jiang ‘16 and Grace Olsen ‘18, however, they might see an Instagram story, poll or post about businesses quite regularly. At their respective schools, Zhu, Jiang and Olsen are college app ambassadors for Bumble, Masse and Instagram.
Typical college app ambassadors promote a company’s merchandise, mission, upcoming events or new app features to their friends around campus or online. A typical Lululemon brand ambassador, for example, could be seen showing off all their newest releases and promoting a fit lifestyle. Ambassadors are usually nominated or contacted directly by a company.
So, when Zhu received an Instagram DM from Bumble Honey, Bumble’s ambassador program, last fall saying that she had been nominated to represent Bumble, she quickly applied and started working as a Bumble College Ambassador at Columbia University.
Zhu was intrigued to join Bumble’s team after researching their mission, which according to the Bumble website, aims to empower women in the dating scene, business world and when building friendships.
“I thought that, as someone who is really interested in business, marketing and economics, finding a startup company which women founded and led is really interesting,” Zhu said. “For me, Bumble was great because I think that the fact that the founder is taking the initiative to champion women within the dating and business field empowers women to take control of their narrative. The brand itself also represents something very fun and very young.”
As an ambassador, Zhu teams up with the four other Bumble ambassadors at Columbia to post marketing material on their social media, give out merchandise to students on campus and host Bumble-themed social events to spread the word about the app.
Similarly, Olsen promotes the app Instagram on her own account, showcasing new features to her friends and followers. After painting a mural in Deep Ellum with her friend and fellow Alumna Maye McPhail ‘18, they were both approached about joining Instagram’s Youth Collective Movement, which is now the Ambassador Program.
As an ambassador, Olsen does marketing research to see how her followers react to certain features, with the hope of maximizing user activity and to improve the app itself.
“We measure our specific followers’ response to different new features and look at feedback to see how to make Instagram better or user-friendly. A lot of it is posting things and seeing the response to make the app the very best,” Olsen said. “For example, when the IGTV feature was released, we posted a lot on that to measure our followers’ reactions.”
Working with Instagram has positively impacted Olsen’s view on social media itself. Through meeting a group of other ambassadors, working on campaigns to promote positivity on the internet and increasing her knowledge regarding the app itself, Olsen has gained a huge appreciation for all the good Instagram does since she’s been an ambassador.
“I wasn’t super into social media prior to working with them, but through the group it connected me with, I saw how effectively Instagram brings people together under really good causes,” Olsen said. “We worked on a kind comments campaign to endorse kindness over Instagram. That [campaign] was so validating [and something] that our generation needs. Social media is a big presence, and it’s not going away, and being able to turn that into a positive outlet for young people is so important.”
Getting to make a positive change with a group of similarly-motivated friends proves to be a major upside of having an app ambassadorship. Jiang, although she does less social marketing for her company, Masse, works closely with other ambassadors across the country.
Masse, a startup which aims to allow its users to rely on their network for product recommendations, is a newly created app that has recently been selected for “App of the Day” on the App Store. It is a quasi-social networking app and shopping resource all in one, according to Jiang.
“It’s basically a way for people to share the products they love with their closest network. If you want a product but don’t know what to buy, it is a platform for you to ask your network. You can share things you love, but also ask questions about which shoes, makeup and jewelry, and someone will answer,” Jiang said.
Because of its relatively new nature, Masse has a different role for its ambassadors than most developed companies. According to Jiang, they have feedback, developmental and management roles at Masse.
“There are around 10 college ambassadors around the country and we work on growth marking and product development. Last quarter, we ran a marketing campaign to get as many users from our college as possible to join the app,” Jiang said.
Jiang was drawn to Masse, having received an application to be an ambassador sent to members of the Business Entrepreneurship Club at Stanford University, after researching its mission and founders.
“The founders are super strong and successful, and I believed in the people who created the product. But more importantly, I have faith in the product itself. I really support their cause,” Jiang said.
Through working with their respective apps, Zhu, Olsen and Jiang have delved into the social networking and business realms, not only adding valuable work experiences to their resumes, but also making friends and having fun. As app ambassadors, they all strongly support joining trustworthy companies with important missions.
Story by Eliana Goodman
Photo provided by Grace Olsen