Advocate VS Influencer

Posted on November 13, 2012

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The power of an advocate VS the power of an influencer (and the difference between the two) is something that’s come up in the TouchstoneMG offices more than once. A cornerstone of this company, in the past, was putting together blogger programs in local markets. Now, we’re slowly wading into the advocacy pool.

TouchstoneMG, before I came along, was making waves in its own right by taking national blogger campaigns (not a new idea) and whittling them down into local blogger campaigns (much more new). Jeanie was sourcing bloggers in a specific geographic area to discuss products (in this case, Chevrolets) as it related to life in that area. At its simplest, she was putting several bloggers in DFW into vehicles to build buzz in that community.

Obviously, this has blown up in a big way with brands doing blogger programs every which way. Some local bloggers have become celebrities in their own communities. While great for them, both for revenue and recognition, it begins to change the game when trying to show the public how great your product is.

When I see Brett Favre talking about how great Wranglers are, I don’t believe for one minute that man is playing backyard football in those jeans and a camera crew just happened to show up. But, when I see my buddy throw some Levis on to ride bicycles downtown, I can notice how flexible and how resistant to tearing they are. I believe they are good jeans. The difference, to me, is two-fold.

On one hand, I know my buddy paid for those jeans. I know he made an investment for that brand when he could have bought another. He’s choosing to wear then and his opinion is not influenced (key word) by compensation.

On the other, I can see first-hand the experience he is having with the jeans. I can watch him eat pavement and get up without holes in them. I can see him jump a curb without the jeans getting in the way. I can witness a girl complimenting him on his style with a simple, “nice jeans.” Not that that’s ever happened, but I would have seen it if it did.

This all feeds into the discussion we have regularly at TouchstoneMG. Brett Favre (or mainstream influencers) are celebrity endorsers. My buddy (or the local “popular” kids) are advocates. They are believable, genuine, (good words from thecburns) and wildly more enthusiastic.

The issue here for some brands will be letting go of the guaranteed (by the almighty dollar) positive word-of-mouth. With local advocacy programs, it’s important to allow advocates to express themselves honestly, or you’ve lost the trust. Give them a product, a platform, and some goals; then let them tell their world. Notice, not THE world, but THEIR world.

As more and more noise fills the digital social space, it becomes more and more important to cut through it. To do this, you can use hyper-targeted geographic areas, niche interests, or a combination thereof. Gone are the “impressions” days where you scattershot to 18-55 in USA. Time to be a social sniper (coined, BOOM) and set your sights on 21-35 females in Plano (as an example; don’t call me out for being sexist, age-ist, location-ist, or any other -ist)

Think I’m way off base? Tag me out in the comments.

Post-writing frenzy thought: Where I believe this works pretty well: Klout Perks. Giving product with no strings attached, relying on the product to illicit positive response, and giving to “regular” people.

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Posted in: Emerging Media