Let’s say you’re at Starbucks and 2 people – a stranger, and the friend you’re meeting there – ask to borrow a few dollars to pay for their drink. You only have enough money to buy one more coffee. Who would you lend your money to?
You’d probably go with your friend.
It could be for a lot of different reasons.
You might be more trusting of someone you already know, versus someone you don’t.
You could feel more of an obligation to help a friend. After all, you’re meeting them for coffee – it would be kind of awkward to have them sit and watch you drink yours while they sit empty handed.
Or you just really want to help a friend, with no obligation at all.
The same concept applies to business relationships, especially influencers. People are more likely to help out people they know, than people they don’t. It’s asking a favor 101.
Influencers don’t have time to work with every brand that approaches them. More than that, they shouldn’t. They want to focus on high quality influencer partnerships just as much as you do.
With limited time and resources, and the importance of staying true to their brand’s values, many influencers are more likely to work with brands they already know.
That’s why any relevant influencers who already advocate for your brand should be at the top of any outreach list.
Want to know how to find and contact influencers? Learn more with our influencer marketing strategy ecourse.
The difference between influencers and brand advocates
To understand where we’re going with this, it’s important to know the difference between an influencer and an advocate. That way, you can spot influencers who are also brand advocates, and bump them to the top of your outreach list.
A brand advocate is basically your favorite kind of customer. They use your product or service a lot, love it, and talk about how much they love it. A lot. They may not have the biggest audience, but they talk and there are people who listen. Their small audience of peers or colleagues already know all about your brand.
An influencer is someone important in your industry, but they may not be a customer. They could be a colleague, a journalist, even someone at a similar company. They have a big audience that listens closely to what they say, but they’re not necessarily talking about you. And that’s what your influencer marketing strategy is trying to remedy.
Both brand advocates and influencers have a ton of ways they can help and work with your brand. The goals and outcomes will be different for each, of course.
But the absolute ideal scenario for your marketing campaign? Being able to find important influencers with big audiences – who are already brand advocates.
5 reasons to use brand advocates in influencer campaigns
Brand advocates are a great asset for your influencer campaigns. They can be easier to pitch, and the content that comes out of the partnership will be amazing.
In terms of audience size, advocacy can make up for popularity a bit. A brand advocate with an audience that’s not huge, but a decent size, can be more a effective partner than an influencer with a larger audience.
Here are a few reasons any existing customers or advocates on your influencer outreach list should be priority #1:
1. They’re more likely to say ‘yes’
This is the most basic, and most important, reason to prioritize advocates. You’re increasing your chances of getting the partners you want on board.
Going back to the example above, people are more likely to do favors for people they know and trust. It’s the same for influencers. They get asked for favors all the time, and are going to prioritize people they know.
So you need to prioritize them, as well. Including brand advocates in your outreach list can increase your pitch response rate, and the number of ‘yes’ responses you get.
Think of it as stacking the outreach deck in your favor.
A target influencer list filled with a few brand advocates could lead to a stronger campaign with more high quality partners.
2. They’re familiar with your brand
An existing relationship can also make for a partnership that sails more smoothly.
Think about the “orientation” involved when working with an influencer who’s unfamiliar with your product. You need to introduce them to your brand, how the product works, why their audience should care, etc.
A brand advocate already knows the answers to those questions.
They won’t need to set aside time to try out your product and research features, so that they can tell their readers what it is and why it’s worth talking about. They’ve already done that in their own time as a customer.
With less time spent on the education and research involved in the partnership, you can both can focus more on the actions that drive results, like actually creating and promoting the campaign’s content, instead of researching for it.
3. Promotion is more organic
Brand advocates, by definition, have talked about your brand before. Probably more than once.
If an influencer has talked about your brand before, organically and without any involvement from you, a partnership is totally natural.
Their audience is already familiar with your brand, and has heard the influencer talk about it. This can help with engagement and how well the content’s received.
Plus any content created from a more formal relationship will “blend in” with the influencer’s overall content, given the other recommendations and mentions.
4. The enthusiasm is real
Obviously you don’t want endorsements from influencers that are totally fake, they won’t be effective in the long-term.
But there’s also a difference between a good recommendation and a totally amazing one.
When a recommendation is wholly authentic, it has a special something that makes it a lot more convincing. There’s more enthusiasm, passion, and excitement because it’s 100% real.
5. There’s long-term loyalty
While the goal of influencer marketing is building long-term relationships, you’re also going to encounter a lot of “one-off” partnerships. You’re not going to work with every influencer forever.
If an influencer is working with you because they’re a true fan and customer, instead of just for the campaign’s benefits, they’re less likely to go work with another brand – like a competitor – next month.
If you keep your customers happy, an advocate will be around to work with for a long time.
How to find influential brand advocates
The trickiest part of this brilliant plan is looking at everyone talking about you online, and finding the most influential advocates.
Here are a few ways to go about it:
- Mention: If you have a brand alert set up in your Mention account, the Influencers Dashboard will rank your current advocates by influence.
- BuzzSumo: Entering your brand name or website into a BuzzSumo influencers search will give you the most influential people talking about you.
- Followerwonk: A tool for analyzing your Twitter account, Followerwonk helps you find the most influential users who follow your brand.
The perfect mix
Influential customers bring the best of both influencers and brand advocates to your marketing campaign. While not all of your customers can be “social media famous,” adding a mix of advocates and influencers to your outreach list will give you endorsements and partnerships with both depth and reach.