Social Media Webinar: Influencers or Brand Advocates: Who Carries the Real Clout?

Webinar Recording: Influencers or Brand Advocates: Who Carries the Real Clout? Companies today are investing in Influencer outreach strategies in hopes that a known name can deliver their message to a vast audience. 40,000 blog subscribers may look tempting, but many brands are sitting right on top of an untapped digital gold mine: their own Brand Advocates. These highly satisfied customers are eager and willing to share their positive brand experiences, defend companies from negative Word of Mouth, and deliver new customers. As marketers are developing both influencer outreach and brand advocacy strategies, it’s important to understand the characteristics, motivations, and objectives behind engaging these two segments.

A BrightTALK Channel

Key Takeaways:

  • Don't confuse reach with influence. True influence drives action.
  • The motivations for influencers and Advocates are different. Influencers typically need some sort of perk, discount, or free trial to endorse a product. Advocates recommend because they've had great experiences and want to help others.
  • 22% trust bloggers. 44% trust media. 92% trust Brand Advocates.
  • Make influencers part of your movement. Demonstrate to influencers the relationship is a two-way street.
  • Reciprocal altruism is the core way to inspire advocacy. Embracing this idea is essential.
  • Leverage Advocate-generated content smartly. Put it in the purchase path- on your website, third party review sites, social media channels, etc.
  • True advocacy cannot be purchased or manufactured. It can only be earned.
  • Advocacy builds greater long-term business value for businesses than influencer programs. Influencers create a momentary spike in awareness.
  • Who's best at what? Use influencers for awareness and Advocates to drive sales. Build a camp of Advocates first.

Expert Speakers:

Jay Baer (@jaybaer), Social Media Strategist/Speaker, Convince & Convert and author of “The NOW Revolution, 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social (Wiley, 2011)

Jay Baer is a hype-free content strategist, speaker, and author. He founded the social and content accelerator firm Convince & Convert in 2008. It is the fifth marketing services firm he’s started or managed. Jay is a renowned and popular social media keynote speaker, delivering as many as 100 insightful, memorable, interesting and hilarious presentations each year to groups as large as 5,000. He’s also co-author of The NOW Revolution, 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social (Wiley, 2011) a leading book on social business, and an Amazon category best-seller.

Michael Brito (@britopian), SVP of Social Business, Edelman Digital and author of “Smart Business, Social Business: A Playbook for Social Media in Your Organization” (Que, 2011)

Michael Brito currently works for Edelman Digital as a Senior Vice President of Social Business. He is responsible for helping his clients socialize their organization and at the same time operationalize their social media initiatives internally. He is the author of Smart Business, Social Business: A Playbook For Social Media In The Organization.

Rob Fuggetta (@robfuggetta), Founder/CEO, Zuberance and author of “Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force” (Wiley, 2012)

Rob Fuggetta is the world’s leading expert on brand advocacy. Fuggetta is the author of the ground-breaking new book, “Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force” (John H. Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012) Fuggetta is the Founder & CEO of Zuberance, a social media marketing company that powers Brand Advocate programs for top consumer and business brands. Prior to founding Zuberance in 2008, Fuggetta was the Chief Marketing Officer at Genuity, a Verizon spin-out. He also was formerly a partner at Regis McKenna, Inc., the legendary high tech marketing and communications firm in Palo Alto, where he co-led the global Apple account.

9/18 Social Media Today Webinar: How to Measure Online Influence that Makes a Difference

Webinar: What Does an Influencer Really Look Like? How to Measure Online Influence that Makes a Difference

Date: Tuesday, Sept 18, 2012

Time: 9AM PST/12PM EST

Hosted by: Social Media Today & Wildfire


The nature of social media is that it's driven by the behavior of consumers, whose decisions are in turn influenced by other people online. There's never been much question that some web users have a stronger or broader influence on people's decisions than others - the challenge for marketers has been to identify these web influencers, and in some cases attempt to influence them in a positive direction as it concerns their business. But how to measure influence, which only works if consumers allow themselves to be swayed?

Measurement tools have come into being to assign rankings to the influence of an individual, and most social platforms display metrics that purport to describe reach - but does a number of friends or followers aptly illustrate trust, admiration, respect, shared values and the other factors that really make up influence? A large follower number or high influencer score may not indicate meaningful influence over decisions in people's personal or business lives. Or do they?

Join us to discuss the true meaning of web influence and how to measure it:

  • What do social technology platforms really measure?
  • Can one be influential without trying to be?
  • Is there a direct correlation between influence and marketing success?
  • How do consumers and marketers decide that someone is influential?

Expert Speakers:


This Week in Social: Ch 1 of "Brand Advocates" Now Available, Foursquare Lets Brands Talk to Users

Foursquare to Let Brands Talk to Users Who've Checked in the Most - AdAge Foursquare will start letting businesses capitalize on the enthusiasm of customers who've checked in repeatedly by rolling out a way to message them, starting today. Through the "local updates" tool, businesses can send their updates to a pool of users who will be picked by Foursquare's algorithm based on the frequency and recency of their check-ins and the businesses they've "liked" (a feature Foursquare made available with its redesign last month).

Now Available! Download Chapter 1 of New Book, Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force -

In this ground-breaking book, advocacy expert Rob Fuggetta shows marketers and business leaders how to identify Brand Advocates; energize them to spread positive Word of Mouth and drive sales; and track results from advocacy programs. Brand Advocates is chock full of colorful real-world stories of Brand Advocates and innovative marketers who are getting eye-popping results by turning Advocates into powerful marketing forces.

Twitter is Working on a Way to Retrieve Your Own Tweets - NY Times

Trying to remember that pithy, brilliantly composed tweet about the latest Wes Anderson movie that you fired off a few months ago? You’re out of luck: Twitter gives users access only to the last few thousand posts made to the site. But Dick Costolo, Twitter’s chief executive, promises that this will eventually change.

No API For You: Twitter Shuts Off "Find Friends" Feature For Instagram - TechCrunch

Instagram has just announced 80 million users and a new app update; Noticeably missing in the update? The “Find Your Friends” on Twitter feature, which allowed users to follow the same people they follow on Twitter on Instagram. The feature is missing due to API restrictions from Twitter’s end, restrictions that possibly came about over concerns about Instagram’s scale and its strain on data pulls.

New INFOGRAPHIC: Influencers vs Brand Advocates and Why Influencer Outreach is Overrated - ZuberRants

Many marketers are investing in Influencer outreach strategies in hopes that a known name can deliver their message to a vast audience. 40,000 Twitter followers may look tempting, but don’t overlook your own satisfied customers, your genuine Brand Advocates. While their networks may be smaller, their enthusiasm is greater and their recommendations drive real business.


[Infographic] Influencers vs Brand Advocates & Why Influencer Outreach is Overrated

Many marketers are investing in Influencer outreach strategies in hopes that a known name can deliver their message to a vast audience. 40,000 Twitter followers may look tempting, but don't overlook your own satisfied customers, your genuine Brand Advocates. While their networks may be smaller, their enthusiasm is greater and their recommendations drive real business. We teamed up with Jay Baer, Founder of Convince & Convert, and created the Infographic below to show what makes Influencers and Brand Advocates different and why Influencer outreach is overrated.

(Click here to enlarge.)

This Week in Social: Google Places is Over, Foursquare Gets a Makeover

Google Places is Over, Company Makes Google+ the Center of Gravity For Local Search - Search Engine Land Google Places pages have been entirely replaced by new Google+ Local pages. As of this morning roughly 80 million Google Place pages worldwide have been automatically converted into 80 million Google+ Local pages, according to Google’s Marissa Mayer. It’s a dramatic change (for the better) though it will undoubtedly disorient some users and business owners.

Foursquare Gets a Makeover: Here's What's New - Mashable

After a week of dropping hints from its Twitter account, Foursquare has finally launched its redesigned app. Anyone who was anticipating new breakout features, however, need not get too excited. The main difference between the new and old app is (much prettier) packaging.

Short-Term Lease vs. Long-Term Relationship: The Difference Between Influencers and Advocates - ZuberRants

In general, Influencers are defined by the size of their audience (Twitter followers, blog subscribers, etc) whereas Advocates are defined by their genuine satisfaction with specific brands and products. Now, this is not to say that an Influencer cannot be an authentic Advocate for your brand. In fact, when this happens (rarely), you’ve hit the jackpot!

Social Media Raises the Stake for Customer Service - EON

Americans are growing more frustrated with customer service and businesses are feeling the heat as consumers tell an increasing number of people about both their positive and poor service experiences. The 2012 American Express® Global Customer Service Barometer also found that consumers who have used social media for service wield the greatest amount of influence. They tell significantly more people about their service experiences, and say they’d spend 21% more with companies who deliver great service – compared to 13% on average.

75% of Facebook Users Have Never or Rarely Click on Facebook Ads - eMarketer

Facebook is now a public company, and its revenue and advertising plans are under significant scrutiny. However, users are more likely to interact with branded content on the site, not advertising, which may be an obstacle for the social network down the road.

Short-Term Lease vs Long-Term Relationship: The Difference Between Influencers & Advocates

I’ve written about the topic of Influencers and Advocates previously, but after reading Jay Baer’s recent post on “Why Online Influencer Outreach is Overrated,” (I 100% agree!) and since advocacy is truly becoming top of mind for marketers, I thought I’d throw in another two cents. Let's back up and first look at what defines an Advocate and an Influencer. I've heard many people interchangeably use these terms when in fact, the two groups have very different characteristics and motivations as you can see from the chart below.

(Click here to enlarge)


In general, Influencers are defined by the size of their audience (Twitter followers, blog subscribers, etc) whereas Advocates are defined by their genuine satisfaction with specific brands and products. Now, this is not to say that an Influencer cannot be an authentic Advocate for your brand. In fact, when this happens (rarely), you’ve hit the jackpot!

Influencer Outreach vs Advocacy Marketing

The challenge of an Influencer outreach strategy is that Influencers have their own agenda. Out of the all of the companies throwing free trials or perks at them, they’ll choose to promote a company/product if it aligns with their goal: to build their personal brand. By getting an Influencer to tweet or blog about them, brands are “renting the conversation” as Edelman Digital's Michael Brito says. And unfortunately, it’s often a very short-term lease. After one tweet or mention in a blog post, they're on to the next company or product that's showing them love.

The beauty of a brand advocacy strategy is that it’s mutually beneficial; you want to drive awareness about your products (and ultimately sales), and your Advocates are more than willing to help you out. As our CEO, Rob Fuggetta, puts it, "Advocates crave engagement from your brand." They want to be the first to know about a new product feature or event you’re hosting, and you don’t have to give them a free trial or even a free key chain to tell their networks about it. Advocates are there to promote, support, and even defend your brand.

Now, I’m not saying that all influencer outreach strategies should be left behind because there is certainly room for both an influencer and advocacy strategy in a brand’s overall marketing mix. But brands need to consider the outcome of each strategy. Jay Baer put it perfectly: "True influence drives action." So what will drive action for your brand? A short-term rented conversation or a long-term authentic relationship with your Advocates?

What are your thoughts on Influencers and Advocates? We'd love to hear to hear your comments below!

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

And the Most Influential Social Network Award Goes to...

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Foursquare, the list goes on and on. With a sea of social networks out there, and each with a distinct social dynamic and method of sharing content, it’s difficult for brands to determine where to throw their social anchor. A recent ExactTarget report sheds some light on the issue by highlighting a medium that is particularly valuable to brands: TWITTER.

Above any social network, Twitter users are the most influential online consumers and the most likely to generate online recommendations on behalf of your brand.

  • 72% publish blog posts at least once a month
  • 70% comment on others’ blog posts
  • 61% write at least one product review a month
  • 61% comment on news sites
  • 56% write articles for third-party sites
  • 53% post videos online
  • 50% make contributions to wiki sites
  • 48% share deals found through coupon forums

Since it’s in Twitter users' social DNA to comment, create, and recommend, it’s critical to identify Brand Advocates among your followers and arm them with the tools to proclaim their love for your brand.

How? It’s simple:

First, identify Advocates among your followers using listening tools, sentiment analysis, or with a simple tweet: How likely are to recommend our brand?

Next, provide the hand-raisers with the tools to recommend your brand and products. Give them the opportunity to:

The beauty of this channel is that the conversations that take place here go beyond Twitter. The 140 character limit makes it a clickable medium, meaning that people have to click through to fully consume a tweet’s content. Therefore, recommendations by Advocates on Twitter fuel discussions across all areas of the web which influence both Twitter and non-Twitter users alike.

Don’t miss the opportunity to turn Twitter users who are naturally inclined to recommend your brand into a powerful marketing force!

You can learn more in our latest whitepaper, “Turning Fans and Followers into Brand Advocates.”

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

Lessons from Influencers in Cultivating Brand Advocates

The following is a guest post from Savina Velkova, Marketing Associate, at BrightTALK, a live webcast platform service. If you would like to contribute to ZuberRants, please email

How has the meaning of “influence” changed in the age of Twitter and Google+ hangouts and LinkedIn discussion groups? Who are the influencers of today and how can marketers identify them and encourage them to put their status to work as Brand Advocates? These are some of the questions tackled by Barbara French, Guy Kawasaki, Don Bulmer and Mike Fauscette in Influencers to Brand Advocates, a live panel discussion recorded at the BrightTALK San Francisco office, available on demand here:

Media and Marketing Channel

With the explosion of social media tools and their increasing incorporation into business practices, the fundamental meaning of “influence” has changed. What used to be an amorphous concept—abstract individual authority dictated by status, entitlement or ideological power—is now defined in practical terms that are easy to measure and study. In fact, the numbers are readily available and speak for themselves: 55,000 people “like” Guy Kawasaki on Facebook, almost 11,000 follow Mike Fauscette on Twitter and Don Bulmer’s blog enjoys an active readership that averages a thousand reads per entry.

Empowered by accessible and effective Internet tools, social technologies have created a democratic system that identifies influencers in niche communities and generates circles of followers around them. It is no longer solely up to the individual to gain influencer status—it is up to the community to determine that the work of an individual is relevant, valuable and trustworthy to many.

These three concepts are the key focus for marketers as they try to understand the power of influencers and how they can harness it to build their brands. Mike Fauscette emphasized that, just like company brands, influencers-turned-Advocates have to be and stay relevant to their respective communities, and that their influence is not guaranteed outside of that context. To this idea Guy Kawasaki added that an influencer must enjoy a high level of trust based on the value they are able to share with their followers.

Don Bulmer referred to SAP’s sales-focused approach and stressed the importance of studying the client’s decision-making process and habits to identify ways to shorten the buying cycle and strengthen the client-vendor relationship.

As marketers explore a community and identify the key influential figures, they need to keep asking questions that will bring them closer to their audience:

  • Who are the people who make decisions?
  • What is their decision process like?
  • Who do they listen to and learn from?
  • What do they care about and how do they consume this information?

By using social media to answer these questions, marketers will be able to single out those key figures that cause shifts in client behavior. Identifying the influencers and encouraging them to become Advocates for products or services is one of the most efficient ways to get access to and target a niche audience that has already been recognized and engaged.

Even though all three speakers are influencers in different areas and use different tools to reach their audiences, one point is clear: engaging an audience online and closely following the ongoing web conversation is an invaluable resource of information and insight that can be used to inform a brand’s marketing efforts and help achieve more by eliminating waste and focusing on tactics that work.

In unprecedented ways social media provides marketers with the ability to measure influence and put it to work with accuracy and efficiency. Whether marketers are looking at number of webinar views, Twitter followers or blog comments, it has never been easier to identify audiences and gain insight into their interests and behavior. With the emergence of social media influencers who singlehandedly affect client behavior, being effective at social media becomes even more crucial to any company or brand. These shifts of behavior—and their causes and frequencies—are the bits of information marketers pursue, and in that respect social media is one of the best tools in a marketer’s toolkit. To quote Guy Kawasaki, “What else is fast, free and ubiquitous?”

- Savina Velkova, Marketing Associate, BrightTALK

About Savina:

As a recent addition to the BrightTALK team, Savina executes email marketing programs that drive thousands of attendees each month to online events and contributes to the BrightTALK blog.  Originally from Sofia, Bulgaria, Savina recently graduated from Pomona College in Southern California, where she studied English and Spanish and ran an online magazine.

Microsoft knows that their customers sell their product better than they do #NYBAS

After a couple of admitted missteps in social media, Microsoft is shifting its strategy to focus on communications with influencers and Advocates, admitted Umang Shah, Social Media Strategist for Microsoft.

With more than 20 million customers in the SMB space, it’s impossible for Microsoft to reach everyone. Just a year ago, they had channels of activity that were all semi-active and not integrated at all. Now they’ve stepped back and built an overarching strategy for their SMB customers and their partners, said Shah.

It’s important that Microsoft be very strategic about going after the right people in their community. So that’s why they asked Zuberance to help them identify their Advocates among their customers and partners. In addition, they’re identifying influencers as well, which are not the same audience as Advocates. Since shifting focus to a more narrow and integrated strategy, Microsoft is seeing a lot more influencers and Advocates participating in their community. That’s critical for their success.

As Shah admits, it’s far better to have an Advocate or influencer say Microsoft has a great product, than if Microsoft says it.

-David Spark, Social Media Journalist, Spark Media Solutions

The ongoing confusion between Advocates and influencers #NYBAS

An Advocate is not necessarily an influencer, and vice versa.

Bob Knorpp is frustrated with how Advocates and influencers are being dialed up and quantified by so many rating systems. The host of the marketing podcast The BeanCast and AdAge Outlook doesn’t think we can reduce advocates and influencers to a set of metrics.

Between Advocates and influencers we’re suffering a bad case of terms being mixed. To avoid the desire to hang onto a Klout score to mean anything about influence and advocacy is misdirected. The goal is to see how the person is connecting with your brand and community. Is their influence and/or advocacy real?

While I was in complete agreement with Knorpp, we have sadly seen people put too much stock in influencer scores and also try to equate that influence to advocacy for your product or brand solely because you happen to be in the same category for which that influencer has influence.

-David Spark, Social Media Journalist, Spark Media Solutions