Stop Confusing Influencers and Advocates

A lot of people use the terms “influencer” and “advocate” as synonyms. In some ways it makes sense because at first glance they both promote products on social media channels. But each group possesses very different characteristics and plays specific roles in social web society.

Influencers vs advocates: a scale weighing a loudspeaker and a head.

Their Definitions

Influencers are:

  • people who are active on social media and have the capacity to affect another person’s behavior simply based on what they post
  • often celebrities, politicians, or other individuals with a sizeable and loyal audience

Advocates are:

  • individuals who publicly support a product or service based on its incredible quality
  • people who vocalize their support for a product over social media and hope their admiration inspires others to buy

At AE, we believe the most important difference between influencers and advocates is:

  • influencers agree to promote a product in exchange for free goods or services
  • advocates promote a product because they genuinely like it and are impressed with its quality

Basically, advocates develop a long-term loyalty to the product they promote, while influencers create a very temporary and short-term connection to the product.

Their Motivations

An advocate’s motivation is:

  • to help his/her friends find high-quality products
  • advocates are selfless and want to help others in their community

On the other hand, influencers’ motivation is:

  • to increase the size of their own audience
  • unlike advocates, influencers are selfish- influencers are only concerned with how promoting a product will help them in the long run (they’re only in it for the freebies and the free press!)

This is backed up by Forrester Research, which states that only 18% of consumers trust influencers and their opinions, while Nielsen says that an astounding 92% of consumers trust brand advocates.

When trying to classify a customer, look for passion behind their posts that promote a product. Advocates always have a genuine passion and admiration for what they promote, where this passion is often missing from influencer posts.

Influencers and Advocates in the Real World

Two Facebook users are talking about Nike, but they speak very differently.

Influencer Post: “Check out Nike’s new sneaker! It’s fashionable, form-fitting, and definitely my new favorite shoe.”

Advocate Post: “Just bought Nike’s new sneaker. These shoes are the most durable pair I own! Went on a 5 mile hike and the sneakers didn’t have a mark on them. The soles are excellent at gripping dirt too. A must-have for all hikers and runners!”

Marketers Need To Know These Distinctions

Understanding these two groups is a vital distinction for marketing teams so that they know which customers they should connect with and focus on. So use this ammo to develop genuine and meaningful relationships with your brand advocates.

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To learn more smart marketing tips check out our blog post:

SMART MARKETING: 6 WAYS BRANDS CAN BETTER CONNECT WITH THEIR CUSTOMERS IN 2018

Annabel Youens

About Annabel Youens

I'm a co-founder and CMO at AE. I believe that truly successful internet businesses have to connect people. {wave} When I'm not online I'm exploring beautiful Vancouver Island. Things I love: everything scifi, literary fiction, coffee, Google Music, my workhorse sewing machine and board games.