For brands, connecting with targeted audiences is a key goal. But how do you do it? Do you need influencers, advocates, or both? Find out.

The differences between influencers and advocates

Social media serves many purposes. It connects consumers to brands, it lets you showcase your “best self” to your friends and family, and, if nothing else, it’s a place where you are welcomed to vent your feelings.

If you’re a brand, you most likely have two reactions to this: loving it or not loving it.

Every day, I see people using social networks as a megaphone to broadcast their experiences with companies (both negative and positive). In turn, consumers are making more decisions based on the attitudes and recommendations they read online. As we become more and more connected, businesses are now competing with, and often losing to, the general public’s opinion.

While many businesses leverage influencers to endorse their products or brand in the hopes of driving action to their targeted demographic, companies should have a greater focus on tapping into their brand advocates. Brand advocacy is most powerful and trusted when real consumers authentically promote a company rather than influencers.

In fact, advocates are characterized as having a long-lasting loyalty and motivation to help friends and shape public opinion toward the brand or company (Baer). Furthermore, brand advocates recommend 50% of the time due to good experiences and 37% of the time due to a desire to help others versus 1% of the time to receive freebies or incentives (Branderati). Finally, 18% of the general public trust influencers compared to 92% who trust brand advocates (Baer).

Watch below to learn more in a brief sketch narrative I created explaining the differences between influencers and advocates.

Laura Anderson is a Senior Community Manager at the Deloitte Digital Studio, Deloitte Consulting LLP in Pioneer Square, Seattle. She is also currently pursuing a Master of Communication in Digital Media degree at the University of Washington.