The terms “Advocate” and “Influencer” are two buzz words that interchangeably get thrown around in the social marketing arena. But this is a major party foul! These two groups have very different characteristics and motivations and subsequently, marketers should have different objectives and strategies when approaching the two.
As you can see from the nifty Infographic below (produced by Zuberance and Convince & Convert), Influencers are generally defined by the size of their audience (Twitter followers, blog subscribers, etc), while Advocates are defined by their genuine enthusiasm for specific brands and products. Influencers’ motivations are self-serving; out of the all of the companies throwing free products, perks, or trips at them, they’ll choose to promote the company/product that aligns with their goal: to build their personal brand. However, Advocates are loyal to specific brands and products and recommend them because they want to help their friends and colleagues.
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Side note: This is not to say that an Influencer cannot be an authentic Advocate for your brand. In fact, when this happens (as rare as it is), you’ve hit the jackpot!
By getting an Influencer to tweet or blog about them, brands are “renting the conversation” as Edelman Digital’s Michael Brito says. And unfortunately, it’s often a very short-term lease. After one tweet or mention in a blog post, they’re on to the next company or product that’s showing them love.
The beauty of a brand advocacy strategy is that it’s mutually beneficial; you want to drive awareness about your products (and ultimately sales), and your Advocates are more than willing to help you out. As Zuberance Founder/CEO, Rob Fuggetta, puts it, “Advocates crave engagement from your brand.” They want to be the first to know about a new product feature or event you’re hosting, and you don’t have to give them a free trial or even a free key chain to tell their networks about it. Advocates are there to promote, support, and even defend your brand.
That being said, I’m not suggesting that all influencer outreach strategies should be left behind. There is certainly room for both an influencer and advocacy strategy in a brand’s overall marketing mix, but brands need to consider the outcome of each strategy. Digital marketing strategist Jay Baer put it perfectly: “True influence drives action.” So what will drive action for your brand? A short-term rented conversation or a long-term authentic relationship with your Advocates?
What are your thoughts on Influencers and Advocates? We’d love to hear to hear your comments below!
Click here to view the entire infographic.