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Are Influencers and Brand Advocates Alike?
By: Janet Kalandranis
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Confusing terms? Understood by many brands? The jury is still out. But while the debate is still in session, it’s time to dig a little deeper into each of these and determine who is a brand helper and who is simply there to talk. Because there is a difference, a very real one, and one that affects brands. Many strategies contain influencers and brand advocates almost assuming they are one and the same. But the result from focusing on one instead of the other can produce a much different outcome than was originally expected. So it’s best to know the facts, understand when to use each, and hopefully achieve some brand success.

Brand influencers are all the rage. Those people, those social media hits that have all the followers. And that’s just what an influencer is — someone who has the audience, who has the following to get the message out to all sorts of people. It’s great, no joke there, but the question becomes what happens as a result of this message. Is it just a message for messages' sake (wow, that’s a lot of message in one sentence) or is there a benefit to it all? That’s exactly the question that brands are starting to ask. An influencer is great; it allows brands to build awareness through a trusted source. And many times people learn about the brand through an influencer when they really wouldn’t have otherwise. That’s great awareness. But there is still debate about what happens from here. Usually influencers need a giveaway or a trial to talk about the brand and this is the point where it falls flat. Brands aren’t seeing these initiatives translate into increased sales or even action on the part of those being influenced. So are influencer strategies worth it? Is it just tough to measure? Or is it really just talk and free product without a lot of success?

Now enter brand advocates. These are the people that feel more authentic, more real about any brand they talk about. So as much as brands want to create a brand advocate strategy, it’s hard to pinpoint how to do this successfully and have it still be authentic. Because brand advocates aren’t paid to talk or discuss, they do it with their own free will and to listeners that feels real. It feels trusted and valued and believed by others. That’s the difference between influencers and brand advocates; advocates are long-term brand followers, they don’t need to be incentivized, and they have genuine passion for the brand. So when thinking about who to use to spread the word about a brand, make sure to understand the differences and use a strategy that will result in the goal you are hoping to achieve.

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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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