While brand advocates and influencers are in a similar category in marketing, there are still quite a few stark differences between the two. Working with each can be an impactful part of your strategy, but knowing the difference can help you create a successful influencer or brand advocacy program. So, when it comes to influencers vs. brand advocates, what’s the difference? This guide will break it down.
Differences between influencers and brand advocates
Influencers and brand advocates have much in common, but important distinctions exist. Here are four of the major differences between influencers and brand advocates:
Influencers tend to have a much broader reach than brand advocates. They are often considered “influential” because they have a large following on social media, blogs, and other platforms. Brand advocates, however, may not have as wide of a reach in terms of followers, but they can still be highly influential in their local community, among their friends and family, or a specific demographic.
Cost of collaborations
One of the most significant differences between influencers and brand advocates is the topic of incentives. While most brand advocates are just happy customers, partners and employees talking about your brand to their friends, influencers are going to ask for a paid partnership, free product and incentives to share your brand with the audiences that they’ve built.
Customer advocates, on the other hand, are incentivized to share their passion for certain products through recognition from the brand, connections with other brand advocates, free products, gift cards and more. Brand advocates tend not to be paid monetary compensation as influencers do.
Finding brand advocates is an inexpensive way to pack a punch with word-of-mouth marketing and get your brand out there to their friends. An influencer program, while effective, can be much more expensive, especially when you’re looking to work with a social media creator with a bigger, engaged audience.
Trust and authenticity
While there are plenty of trustworthy and authentic influencers out there, brand advocates tend to have more trust among their communities because of their close relationships with them. Influencers may be sharing their partnership with a large audience, but brand advocates are usually sharing with their trusted circles and friends. You’re probably more likely to take the advice from a longtime friend than an influencer you’re scrolling past online, making brand advocates landslide in the trust department.
They also tend to garner trust because they do not make a living by promoting products — only those they truly care about. Because brand advocates aren’t being incentivized most of the time, their recommendation tends to be more authentic and trustworthy.
Brand advocates are usually those who love your product or service and have no interest in leaving the brand anytime soon. These may be customers who stick around for years or have been with your company since the beginning. If you listen to their feedback and make them feel valued, they keep coming back for more whenever you offer new products or have an announcement. They’ll share your content without hesitation and are excited to see your company evolve.
On the other hand, influencers aren’t always a long-term partnership. While you may increasingly see influencers working with the same product repeatedly, many influencer sponsorships are a one-time deal because influencers aren’t always loyal to one brand. Some may choose to work with competitors if they are compensated.
While influencers and brand advocates can be essential to a successful marketing program, brand advocacy is the ideal place to start. Brand advocacy is light on the marketing budget and a great way to connect with your customers and learn what they love about your product. This critical feedback is helpful for new products, updates to old ones and a pool of loyal customers to dip into when you’ve got an announcement.