Social Media Marketing

Influencers vs. Advocates from ad:tech NY

Bottom Shape

Krista Neher

Nov 16 2009

The panel on Social Analysis: Real Time Insights for your Brand at ad:tech NY shared some really interesting insights on how brands can benefit from listening to social media.

bonin_boughBonin Bough, Global Social Media Director, PepsiCo brought up an interesting discussion on the difference between Influencers and Advocates when approaching your social media strategy.

When approaching social media we often get caught up with identifying and working with the influencers in our space (ie. the people with the biggest relevant audiences).  While working with influencers can be valuable, working with advocates can produce better results.

What is the Different between Influencers and Advocates?

Influencers are those who yield a lot of influence in your space.  They have a large audience that is relevant to your brand.  They are authoritative within your segment, talk regularly and have a large following.

Advocates are people who love your brand and share their love for your brand regularly.  Advocates may not have a large audience but they have a genuine personal interest in your brand and share that with their friends.

Why Work with Advocates vs. Influencers (especially if they have a smaller audience)?

Here is the thing – influencers probably don’t care about your product if they aren’t already talking about it.  You might try to get their awareness, and maybe you’ll even get them to write a post or two, but you’ll be getting standard press.  While they have a large audience, they don’t really care, and their posts and discussions about your brand will likely be factual and neutral (if you get any at all).

Advocates on the other had are already crazy in love with your brand.  They talk about your brand.  They love your brand.  They want others to know about your brand.

I was in the grocery store a few weeks ago trying to buy margarine.  Some lady beside me randomly started telling me about this Parkay Butter Spray and how awesome it was.  She is a brand advocate (and I actually bought it).  This is a real world example but it happens online all the time.

Want to know who your brand advocates are online?  Do a twitter search, blog search, a regular google search or check relevant discussion forums.

Find the people who already talk about you – they are your advocates.

Don’t have any?

Look at your existing customer base and try to inspire passion for your brand (this is a whole separate blog post – or series).

How to Activate Advocates

Bonin Bough suggests a few ways to activate your advocates:

  • Give them access to digital assets (for their social networks)
  • Give them special experiences
  • Encourage them to talk to others
  • Give them exclusive access

Some Examples

Makers Mark Ambassadors

Makers Mark

This is an “exclusive” invite-only club for those wholove Makers Mark.  In return Ambassadors get:

+ Your name on a Maker’s Mark barrel.
+ An opportunity to purchase a bottle of Maker’s Mark from your batch.
+ Updates on the aging of your bourbon.
+ Advanced notice of rare, special-release bottles.
+ Opportunity to purchase Ambassadors-only Maker’s Mark merchandise.
+ Many other items that confirm your honorable status.



The people at Lovesac saw this post that I wrote where I declared my love for the lovesac.  They contacted me, said “hey – we see that you love our product – we’d like to send you one” and sent me one for free.  No strings attached.  I talked about it everywhere and got comments and questions on my blog, facebook and twitter.  They activated my passion and gave me something to talk about.

Why are advocates so effective?

2 Reasons:

1) It is Authentic

2) It is Passionate

Anyone else have ideas or examples of good advocate outreach programs?

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Read some more of our recent posts

Start My Free 5 Day Trial

Try FREE for 5 Days!