Marketing across social media is continuing to gain more attention, as businesses seek to reach new and wider audience. In trying to achieve this goal, there are two categories of people, which are considered to be instrumental. They are known as the advocates and the influencers. Jure Klepic of the Huffington post believes influencers might be bloggers, pundits or celebrities that have the ability to affect behavioural change on others through brand mention. Influencers are driven by a free sample, perk or a financial compensation. On the other hand, advocates are those individuals who are satisfied customers and who promote a product with a core reason of wanting to help others.
Laura Anderson of the Deloitte digital blog, posed this interesting question: “Do you need influencers, advocates or both?” We will come back to answering this question at the end of this piece. I recently carried out an independent review of the top social media monitoring and analytical platforms, realising that most of these fantastic platforms are more concerned with helping brands and PR firms to identify influencers. Very few of these firms recognize the power of a social brand advocates as against the much heralded influencers.
Two of these social media analytical firms, have recognised the undeniable and organic power of the advocate. These two firms are Branderati (recently acquired by sprinklr) and Zuberance. These two social media analytical firms emphasize on the instrumental role played by advocates over influencers. Branderati carried out a research that showed that advocates do recommend 50% of the time as a result of good experiences and 37% of the time due to a desire to help others and 1% of the time, to receive freebies.
To add more strength to this prelude and argument, Jay Baer affirmed that about 18% of the general public trust influencers as against 92% that trust brand advocates. Some of you might be saying to yourselves that influencers are the most important due to their wider audience on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and a host of other social media platforms. Hold tight to your side of the argument, as I share the reasons why advocates (not influencers) are the most important force in driving brand engagement.
10 simple reasons why social brand advocates are more instrumental than influencers
1) Advocates have more depth while influencers have more reach but less depth: I religiously listen to entrepreneur-on-fire podcast sessions by John Dumas. Most of the entrepreneurs state that it is best for people to go an inch wide and a mile deep. Advocates may not have the reach or width of influencers but they have more depth to brand marketing. Due to their loyalty and satisfaction in a brand, they go deeper with their limited networks to continually share their positive brand experience.
2) Advocates speak out of passion and conviction while influencers speak out of patronage: Advocates have bags of contagious passion and conviction. This is not a conjured or manipulated passion; it is a real passion to see a brand succeed. Some influencers are passionate but most sound a bit robotic- only quietly fired up by the reward or perk they receive.
3) Advocates speak from experience while influencers speak from a script: We live in an age of an experience economy. Where people spend more time reading the reviews of a product than its product description. Advocates do not act or market a product based on a script but from their actual experience with the said product. Experience comes more natural and convincing than script.
4) Advocates speak across multiple platforms while influencers speak on one or fewer platforms: Advocates speak on online and offline platforms. They write on Facebook, Tweet on Twitter, upload pictures to Instagram, leave a review on Feefo, Yelp, Trustpilot and may even combine a picture and a text on Snapchat. Influencers will only speak or write on mediums where they have the largest audience (or are paid for).
5) Advocates connect with their listeners emotionally why influencers connect with their audience logically: Emotion is an important element in marketing particularly across social media. An advocate’s passion and genuine desire to help a brand and a friend succeed, makes them speak with a connecting emotion. Most influencers speak with logic as they are paid to market the product.
6) Advocates keep repeating the message while influencers speak once (or a few times): Advocates continually repeat the brand message to friends until they take action. Influencers do speak once (or for as many times they are paid for) and go to the next client’s task.
7) Advocates take ownership while influencers take up disclaimers: Advocates take ownership of what they say and back it up with empirical facts. They believe in what they say and vouch for it. Influencers say what they are asked to and detach themselves from any responsibility that may emerge.
8) Advocates act on goodwill while influencers act on the highest bidder: Advocates in general are people that love to see others succeed. They are driven by this act of kindness and willingness to facilitate a brand’s success. Most influencers are driven by a reward or peck.
9) Advocates follow-up while influencers jump to the next client: Advocates follow-up on their brand message. They do this through answering questions on forums, review sites or e-commerce platforms. They reach out to clarify any confusion that a potential buyer may have or help calm their concerns. Influencers do not have time to answer questions as they are very busy and quick to jump to the next client.
10) Advocates trigger action while influencers create awareness: Jay Baer believes that too many people confuse audience with action. He thus added that very few influencers have the juice to drive action. It is pretty clear that most influencers create awareness while more advocates drive action due to their persistence and passion.
On the Zuberance blog, they re-emphasized that advocates and influencers are two different types of people and that sometimes a person could be both an influencer and an advocate.
Taking a trip back to the question posed earlier on, regarding an advocate, influencer or both? Based on the above, it is pretty clear that advocates are more loyal and drive more action. It will be great to state that brand marketers and social media analytical firms should focus more on advocates or advocate-influencers. An advocate-influencer has a vested interest in seeing a brand succeed with boxing champion Floyd Mayweather as a good example. He used a mobile app called shots, to show the world his contract to fight Pacquaio. He has an investment in the startup and has a first-hand experience using the app hence; he is an example of an advocate-influencer. Your advocates are priceless, so focus more on them than expensive influencers.