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Advocates, influencers and celebrities: your social media dictionary

Influencers are changing the face of marketing, particularly with their social media influence– but what is a brand advocate and how do they differ from a social influencer or a brand champion?

Social influencers can trigger...
6x more traffic

2x more conversions

...when they share a brand’s content on their social channels.

It’s understandable that influencers are becoming a vital part of a marketer’s social media strategy. By identifying, understanding and exploiting social media influence opportunities, a marketer can now push their brand even deeper into the consumers’ consciousness.

How do you begin to effectively deploy ‘influencing’ as part of your social media strategy? By examining the many different influencer types available, both outside and within your business:

External
Brand Advocates a.k.a. ‘The Halo’
These are the influencers that every marketer wants – customers and clients who advocate a brand in the social space because they respect the company - not because they are being paid to. If word of mouth marketing is the new paradigm of marketing, then brand advocates are at the heart of it – research shows that people trust personal recommendations above all else, and brand advocates represent the pinnacle of such ‘social proofing.’

Celebrities a.k.a ‘The Old'
Celebrity endorsements are as old as marketing itself. In this era of social media, nothing has changed, save for two key factors; the number of channels a celebrity can push your brand out onto and more importantly, the immediacy of their messaging. Social media is over taking billboards, magazine ads and weekly printed gossip columns - this is because a celebrity can get your product out into the social space from the moment they receive it via Twitter, Snapchat, etc. The immediacy of a message is becoming more important.

Social Influencers a.k.a. ‘The Professional’
While hiring celebrities may seem like the ultimate – and most expensive – option in social media influence practise, pragmatic marketers understand that you can be smarter and more cost-effective by deploying social influencers. These are bloggers, Tweeters and Youtubers who already have audiences in specific areas. Such influencers offer marketers the ability to target their messaging at particular audiences, producing those much sought-after, high quality leads.

A Word of Warning: Social influence can be a deeply contentious area; brands should be wary of being perceived as having ‘bought off’ the social influencer. Companies must also give the influencer the space to express their own views on the brand, but ensure that the influencer doesn’t go ‘off-message’ and risk harming it. It can be a tight-rope walk, so it may be worth using social influencers for one-off projects rather than on a longterm basis.

Internal
Brand Champions a.k.a. ‘The Homegrown Hero’
A company’s greatest advocate could be sitting in its offices – they’re the employees who are passionate about the brand they work for. Smart marketers are encouraging these enthusiastic employees to extoll the virtues of their company’s products or services, whether it be by posting on LinkedIn to like-minded professionals, or engaging with customers in the social space.

Thought Leaders a.k.a. ’The Face’
There are those CEOs whose public image and influence are so far-reaching that they have become social media figureheads for their companies. These thought leaders are followed in the social space by C-Suites and employees across the business world. The question is – can your CEO be encouraged to move into the social space and carve out a role for themselves as a thought leader in their sector?

Remember:

  • Encourage passionate employees to communicate with customers; don’t hold them back.
  • Identify customers who could be potential brand advocates and reach out to them.

  • Ask yourself if celebrities are the way to go – or could your budget be spent more wisely targeting specific niches by reaching out to appropriate bloggers?

  • Ensure that any third-party influencers don’t come across as ‘guns-for-hire’; they could end up shooting your brand in the foot.

 

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