Insights & News

Advocates and Influencers: Distinguishing The Differences

Influencers and advocatesThere is a lot of confusion about the difference between advocates and influencers. At BRG, we believe that though influencer and advocacy campaigns can be complex, the definitions of these types are straightforward.

  • Advocates publicly support or recommend ideas, products or brands.
  • Influencers have the authority and ability to sway the actions or opinions of others. Influencers can concurrently be advocates.

The key differentiator between advocates and influencers is that influencers move people to act. Don’t get us wrong; we believe advocates can be important to brand strategy, and advocates can even become influencers. Whether you engage advocates, influencers, or both, remember relevancy.

Advocates and influencers are walking among you

A common misnomer is that advocates and influencers can only be found online. While many are online, don’t forget about the power of real-life advocacy and influence including the power of traditional media.

Identifying advocates

When considering using advocates as part of a strategy or campaign, remember that individual advocates have different target audiences. One super-fan of your brand might not have influence online, but could provide a useful testimonial for your brand. Another advocate may have a large following, but not in your brand’s target demographic.

Advocates are typically:

  • Fans of your brand.
  • Customers. (Occasionally prospective customers.)
  • Brand loyal.
  • Quick to share their affinity for your brand without the need or expectation of incentives.
  • Appreciative of acknowledgment from a brand, and often quick to share their interaction with others.

In short: Brand advocates are your happy customers. They are genuine in their affinity for your products and services. They may or may not be influential, so they are as powerful for your brand as you make them.

Identifying influencers

When you work with influencers, it goes without saying that your influencers should have sway with your target customers. Remember that different people have different influence with different groups. A social media business influencer, for example, may not have any authority with parenting bloggers. A mother might be influential about parenting on a blog, whereas another may be even more influential in a smaller group on a physical playground.


  • Should have an attentive audience.
    • Note that we didn’t say they should have a large attentive audience. Sometimes they do, but some of the biggest influencers are in smaller circles.
  • Might be a brand fan, and might not.
  • Aren’t always brand-loyal, even if they promote a brand.
  • Usually require an incentive to talk about a product or service with their audience.
  • Have the ability to NEGATIVELY influence others.
    • This is a good reason to monitor brand mentions. If an influencer is negatively impacting brand sentiment, you need to know.

In short: Influencers have access to potential customers you may not have tapped into. They have the power to move people. Be aware though, not every influencer will be a fan of your brand.

Have you worked with advocates or influencers? Share your experiences in the comments!