Social media has undoubtably become a platform for businesses to drive awareness of their brand and to drive sales. Social media promotion comes in all shapes in sizes– from a Smart Water ad in your instagram feed to Hamburger Helper dropping a rap mixtape that goes viral. , to a celebrity retweeting a LuluLemon product, to your friend tweeting “I love Chipotle”. All of these types of promotion have their advantages, but I want to focus on the last two: A celebrity retweeting a Lululemon product or your friend tweeting “I love chipotle”. They are examples of social media influencers and brand advocates.
SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS
A Social media influencer is a person who has a large or very engaged following on some type of social media platform. These influencers can be Taylor Swift, a fashion blogger, a youtuber, or a Bill Nye the Science Guy parody account. Basically anyone who can drive impressions on social media is considered an influencer.
The power of influencers is undeniable, in many different areas of the internet. They tend to be the people who really make something go viral. Good content tends to go unnoticed until someone with a large following shares it. One big example of influencers was with ‘Kony 2012’. Although the results of this campaign were questionable, the campaign targeted major celebrities which they called “culturemakers” to get the word out.
SMI’s in Business
Brands often use influencers to drive awareness or sales to their products. For example, Dick’s Sporting goods might pay famous athletes to promote them on their accounts, or H&M might pay a fashion blogger to review one of their products on Instagram. These types of promotions are really cool, and definitely generate a bunch of awareness based on the influencer’s following. The next question is- do they actually drive sales?
Before we answer that- let’s look at Brand Advocates. A brand advocate is a person who is passionate about a brand and actively chooses to get the word out about the brand. A brand advocate is your friend John that you follow who tweets “I Love Chipotle” and Retweets Chipotle’s special offers on twitter. John even Dm’s you asking if you want to join him for lunch at Chipotle. The difference between the advocate and the influencer is that the advocate is more passionate about the product and doesn’t have their own agenda behind promoting the brand. Brands often keep close track of customers like John on social media and engage with them through commenting, tweeting, etc. I used to intern for a company who monitored all activity on social media for Target, and they would respond to both good and bad posts.
What’s Better for your Brand? Influencers or Advocates?
The answer is both. While Influencers tend to create more awareness, advocates tend to drive a larger percentage of sales for brands. I found some cool supplements on Zuberance.com that have some key comparisons between influencers and advocates. Check it out below:
Some key things that Zuberance looks at here are consumer trust, motivation and incentives. As seen, 18% of consumers tend to trust influencers while 92% trust brand advocates. Also, influencers are not motivated because they have a true passion for the product, and typically need some type of incentive to post about your brand. On the flip side however, an influencer with 100k twitter followers is lot more exposure than an advocate with 100 followers. How many sales can 100 followers really drive? How many sales can 100k followers really drive? The answers are not completely clear, but it is good to know the difference between the types of promotion.
So what do you guys think? What’s better for your brand? Social media Influencers or Brand Advocates?