Influencers vs. Advocates: What’s the Difference?

Influencers vs. Advocates: What’s the Difference?

Influencer, blogger, brand ambassador, advocate: These terms are not interchangeable and each are part of an integrated digital marketing strategy. Before these terms were part of our vernacular, businesses talked about early “adopters,” “mavens” and “gurus.”

Recent technological and sociological changes have contributed to the rise of empowered consumers. And since 92% of customers trust friends for recommendations, this can translate to big business for brands involved in social shopping.

So, what’s the difference between brand influencers and brand advocates?

Influencer marketing is partnering with individuals who have significant audience and influence. Celebrity influencers are the new paid reach. They are typically experts, bloggers, speakers, or authors with an established online presence and a loyal audience in a particular niche, like fashion or luxury brands. They increasingly require a paid arrangement to do business. Influencers might be chosen over others for their ability to reach a broad audience but social influencers are not trusted like a peer or advocate. Having a lot of Instagram followers doesn’t necessarily give you the power to drive action. Influencers drive awareness, not behaviors.

An overview:

  • Have large, engaged followings
  • Typically have specific areas of expertise
  • Write about brands they have an affinity for
  • Usually rewarded for sharing a brand

Advocates have a passion for your brand and are natural champions with an affinity for a product or service. This is your favorite kind of customer. They can help drive referrals, provide product feedback, introduce new products to a marketplace and promotion is more organic. Advocates function as opinion leaders inside their social network, even though they typically reach a limited number of close connections. Their motivation is likely the perceived sense of recognition coming from family, friends, and peers, along with other benefits such as discounts or giveaways.

An overview:

  • Brand advocates can & should also be your employees, partners & shareholders
  • They are your highly-satisfied customers, cheerleaders and consumer evangelists
  • Customers that leave reviews and testimonials act as Brand Advocates
  • Advocates just wants to genuinely share how awesome a brand is
  • Incentives typically aren’t needed, they crave engagement from the brand
  • Brand advocates are 50% more likely to create content that influences a purchase, and are seen as 70% more likely to be seen as reliable sources.
Influencer MarketingAdvocate Marketing
Launch a new productXX
Drive awareness for existing productsXX
When you have zero or little compensationX
Support during PR crisisX
Create contentXX
Celebrity endorsementX
High consumer trustX
Build social followingXX
Long lasting advocacy & loyaltyX
Can be anyone who loves your brandX
Tends to have a broad reach, good for awarenessX

Why is brand advocacy important?

  • Generate greater brand affinity
  • Advocates speak from experience, which is more natural & convincing
  • Brand advocates are 50% more likely to influence a purchase
  • Advocates make marketing programs more authentic & engaging
  • Can lead to an increase in sales & greater share of voice in your industry space
  • 84% of millennials claim UGC on a website influences their purchasing decision
  • Customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate.

Various tools (like ShareSpring!) can identify, nurture and build enthusiast relationships within your social audiences into an advocate community.

This is the new, digital, word-of-mouth marketing. Harness the power - easily and beautifully.