michael brito

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.

Energize! New Book Coming Soon from Zuberance Founder #Energize

My biggest inspiration at Zuberance has always been our customers like Intuit, Rubio’s, and CDW and their fanatical Brand Advocates. Now, I’m putting their stories in a book, entitled Energize! How to Turn Fans, Followers, and Enthusiastic Customers into Social Media Marketing Machines.”

In the coming weeks, you’ll get sneak previews of the book here on the ZuberRants blog.


There are lots of books about social media.

(My friend Michael Brito has a new book called “Smart Business, Social Business.” I highly recommend it.)

But until now, there hasn’t been a book on how to turn Advocates into a marketing force.

Energize! fills that gap.


Energize! isn’t a social media marketing book, per se.

It’s about passionate Brand Advocates like George Hamma, an avid BMW Mini Advocate whose enthusiastic recommendations have inspired five friends to buy their own Mini’s, worth about $200,000 to BMW; Melody Overton (AKA “Starbucks Melody”), a Seattle attorney who is a walking Starbucks encyclopedia and who knows more about Starbucks than its baristas; and Justin Dorfman, a CDW Champion, whose enthusiastic recommendations have driven several hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales for the online IT retailer. (Read: Extreme Brand Advocate Stories.)

And it’s about innovative marketers and visionary business leaders that are transforming their companies and delivering ground-breaking marketing results by activating their Brand Armies. People like Lauren McCadney, who is championing advocacy at CDW; Porter Gale, a social media rock-star and former CMO at Virgin America; and Eric Ryan, the CEO of Method Products, whose avid customers (“People Against Dirty”) have turned household cleaners into a social movement.


Today, as the power has shifted from marketers to social-media powered consumers, getting more “social recommendations” (recommendations on the social web) has become the Holy Grail. Seventy-one percent of marketers say advocacy is now a top priority.

Energize! will show you how.

You’ll learn how to energize your Brand Army by getting them to recommend your brand and products via reviews, stories, answers to prospects’ questions, sharing promotional offers and content, and more.

Energize! will feature more than 100 real-world case studies, profiles of Brand Advocates and marketers, plus tips and tricks on how to build and activate your Brand Army.

I hope you have as much fun reading Energize! as I’m having writing it.

Stay tuned.

-Rob Fuggetta, Founder/CEO, Zuberance

Highlights from the eBook, "New Trends in CRM"

Last week The Customer Collective released an ebook on “New Trends in CRM” that offers a variety of perspectives from thought leaders to help you think about leveraging CRM and related tools to achieve concrete results. Download "New Trends in CRM."

Below are a few of the highlights.

Charles Green (Founder and CEO, Trusted Advisor Associates) wrote a chapter on “How Social Media are Ruining Your Lead Qualification Strategy” and states that traditional lead qualification assumes there is an infinite number of leads that are independent of each other. In the age of social media, the fact is, your customers and prospects talk to each other; and the more they talk, the more they build impressions. Brands need to help their leads, offer them value, and create future demand. Don’t treat them as unconnected, blank faces.

Cheryl Hanna (Blogger, Service Untitled) contributed a chapter called “Use Social CRM to Improve Communications” that explained how to leverage Twitter and Social CRM in general. Besides listening, engagement, and damage control, leverage Twitter for market tracking- companies can track end users and consumers who are recommending products but aren’t necessarily customers (i.e. didn’t personally purchase the product) and leverage social media to convert them to customers.

The chapter contributed by JD Lasica (CEO, Socialmedia.biz), Four Experts on How to Turn Social Media into Sales,” covered the panel discussion from our San Francisco social media event in October, which was part of the Brand Advocacy Series. Some key takeaways:

  • Becky Brown (Director of Social Media Strategy, Intel)- Find people who are not your Advocates, but your negative Advocates and take the issues on yourself instead of outsourcing social media or leaving it up to a college grad. These are real customers talking about your brand, so engage with them directly.
  • Tony Lee (VP of Marketing, TiVo)- If you’re not failing quickly when experimenting with marketing initiatives, you’re not doing an interesting enough experiment.
  • Rob Fuggetta (Founder and CEO, Zuberance)- The ROI of Word of Mouth marketing campaigns? “Put $1 in and get $10 back.” This is earned media, not paid media where fabrication and marketing speak hold sway.
  • Michael Brito (VP of Social Media, Edelman Digital)- Advocates and influencers are distinct segments. Advocates are talking about your brand whether you ignore them or not; influencers often require incentives. If you look at your Advocates across the web, their reach is much greater than being featured on the front page of TechCrunch.

David Brock, David Tyner, and Esteban Kolsky also shared their insights on trends in CRM. Click here to read more.

Advocates vs Influencers

Tuesday’s #techchat topic was “Leveraging Social Media for Influencers and Customer Advocacy in the Enterprise,” run by Ann Handley of MarketingProfs with special guest, Michael Brito (VP of Social Media at Edelman Digital.) Part of the discussion addressed the difference between Brand Advocates and influencers, which Micheal does an excellent job explaining in his latest blog post. He says that influencers “may have a crush on you or find your product useful; but they are too busy being influencers – tweeting, blogging, and recording webinars to really care. Of course they love getting free trials and new products before they hit the market; and very rarely will they say no when you offer to send them that new shiny object.”

Influencers have their own agenda. When your company is the hot new brand on the block, they want to be associated with you; that is, until the next hot new brand moves in and shortly after, you’re left scratching your head wondering what happened to the influencer’s new born enthusiasm for your brand.

Michael goes on to say, “the reality is that with many influencer programs, brands are just renting the conversation; and unfortunately the conversation isn’t always authentic. If it was, you wouldn’t have to keep sending them products to fuel their conversation.”

This is why brands need to shift their focus onto their authentic evangelists, their Brand Advocates. Unlike influencers, Advocates love your brand unconditionally. OK, don’t take that completely literally. But what I am trying to say is that, for the most part, Advocates will stick by your side even when you're not the hot brand at the moment or come out with a product that maybe you shouldn’t have.

I always like to think about Advocacy in relation to music, because most of the “brands” I advocate are music artists. I am a huge Advocate of B.O.B. (He’s a Hip Hop artist, and if you don’t know of him, check him out.) There are definitely a few tracks of his that I’m not really into, but that doesn’t make me any less of an Advocate; and I am sure the same goes for all of you Pearl Jam, Tim McGraw, and Madonna Advocates out there.

While we’re on the topic of differentiating Advocates from other segments, it’s important to point out that loyal customers are not always Advocates. Think about the airline that you normally fly. Are you an advocate of them? Probably not. I have been an AT&T customer since the Nokia snake-playing days, but I am far from an Advocate.

Similarly, Advocates are not equal to Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Again, these people may have a “crush” on you, or are interested enough to simply click a “Like” or “Follow” button. But that doesn’t mean they would recommend, write a review, share offers, or do anything on behalf of your brand voluntarily.

*Note: There can be (and surely are) Advocates within each of these segments (influencers, loyal customers, fans, and followers.) In fact, it is very likely that Advocates will be a fan of you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, and continuously purchase your products. It is the Advocates within these segments that need to be recognized and treated like VIPs, because that’s what they are.

Make sure to tune in to #techchat everyday Tuesday at 5pm PST.

Don't forget to register for our upcoming webinar with WOMMA, "Turning Facebook Fans into Brand Advocates" on Sept 22 at 9 AM PST.