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Brand Ambassadors, Advocates, Influencers: What’s the Difference?

What is a brand advocate?

A brand advocate is: Your super fan. Any person who takes action to support or advocate for a brand.

Unlike paid ambassadors or influencers, advocates are a powerful community because their participation is perceived as organic and results in greater amounts of trust and credibility in their community. They are sharing because they naturally love the brand and they aren’t getting paid to talk about it.

That being said, you want to use a combination of product and non-financial incentives to help guide the advocate into the right actions they can take to help the brand achieve their goals. We talk more about what these incentives look like HERE.

What is a brand ambassador?

A brand ambassador is: the super fan who loves your brand so much, they decided to to turn it into a side hustle to earn cash when they sell.

Ambassador programs are built on the same principles as an advocate program. The ambassador’s passion and excitement drives them to share about the brand and sell the product. Because brand ambassadors are incentivized with cash, they are often more invested in building an additional stream of income with the brand while the brand has a higher capacity to build relationships and reward ambassadors for growing their side hustle.

Ambassador and advocate programs work really well when they are leveraged together as ambassadors often partner with advocates to expand their circles and grow their business. The advocate program, in turn, becomes a pipeline for recruiting more ambassadors.

What is an influencer?

An influencer is: someone who hosts a large following, usually on social media. Influencers come in all different styles, but they generally attain their following by being perceived as a celebrity or an expert in the industry.

Public trust with celebrity influencers is very low. In fact, only 4% of people trust influencers on social media. Influencers are important for other areas of a brand’s identity, like capturing beautiful content and creating psychological alignment for the customer. For example, seeing a vegan celebrity known for standing up for animal rights talk about your product will align that celebrity’s MO with your product in a viewer’s mind. But that doesn’t mean they will buy your product.

Because the trust isn't there. If trust is what you’re after, influencers are not your strategy.

Which one is a good fit for you?

Begin with the end in mind.

If you’re looking for exposure and creating psychological alignment with your brand - an influencer could be a good fit for you!

If your brand has a strong social or sustainable message and you’re after any one of these six outcomes, you might consider an advocate or ambassador program.

How do you choose advocates or ambassadors? The honest answer is it depends. Factors to consider include your product line, brand maturity, platform, budget, and customer base. We’ll talk about this more in an upcoming post.


About the Author

Bri Leever is Chief Community Architect at Ember, a splasher of water, and lover of books doing life in an ever-changing migration pattern ✈️


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