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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Influencers vs. Brand Advocates Part 1

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Public Relations BlogThere has been a lot of buzz lately around the term influencer marketing within the worlds of public relations and social media. While Tilson often leads influencer strategies as part of our client programs, we often encounter the same confusions and questions from those looking to leverage the clout of influencers to make a splash for their brand. Most want to know the true definition of a brand influencer and what makes them different from a brand advocate?

The short answer ties back to the single most effective form of marketing, word of mouth. Brands should view both influencers and brand advocates as assets that evoke trust and can be instrumental in leading consumers to a call to action.

So what’s the difference between the two and how can you integrate both into your PR initiatives?

Influencers

Think of influencers as the equivalent of celebrity endorsers.

These individuals have solid relationships with top-tier media outlets as well as a large following on social media. Relevant examples include Joy Bauer, a registered dietician and nutrition expert often called upon by media powerhouses such as the “Today” show and Fitness magazine. For a food or health brand, having Joy recommend or speak highly of your product brings a level of third party credibility that has proved to fuel consumer purchase. Another example is tech expert Katie Linendoll, a regular on CNN. For technology companies, an endorsement from Katie brings notoriety to a product or service and encourages trial. Influencers, like these, exist across all categories. When looking to partner with influencers, brands can expect one of two scenarios: a non-paid relationship that requires regular product seeding and other forms of incentive (giveaways for their blog for instance,) or a paid partnership in which the influencer agrees to promote your product or service within the confines of an established contract. Either way, your PR agency will prove invaluable in securing these relationships and building brand loyalty with these influential gatekeepers that drive purchasing decisions and perceptions with your core customers.

Advocates

Brand advocates on the other hand should be looked at as peer-to-peer marketing influencers.

Think of a moms group recommending baby products to one another or a group of highly passionate consumers who hop on Facebook to tout how much they love a new restaurant, product or service. Advocates are every day people, just like you, that recommend products and services they love to their social sphere of influence. When you think of the “socialnomics” affect that each advocate brings to the table, the numbers speak for themselves. In fact, look at it this way: according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, the average Facebook user has 229 friends. If the team driving your social media efforts focuses on building solid, sticky relationships with 50 brand advocates, this equates to a reach of 11,540 people. That’s more than 11,500 socially connected people who are rewarding your brand with positive, glowing remarks and/or recommendations. Essentially, you’re converting brand fans into brand zealots.

So, how do you get started? Stay tuned for our next post that reveals 5 key steps to jumpstarting an influencer program for your brand.

Read 10966 times Last modified on Monday, 11 February 2013
Tracy Tilson

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