Advocacy or influence?

Finally, another reason investment in influencer marketing might not come to fruition could be due to changes in what actually generates real success.

Last year, the general consensus seemed to be that micro-influencers were the key – i.e. individuals with 10,000 to 100,000 followers and theoretically a highly engaged audience. However, it has been suggested that the trend is perhaps a scam started by influencer marketing platforms. Essentially, as brands work with an increasing pool of small-scale influencers, ‘high’ engagement levels could be misleading – failing to translate to legitimate or large-scale impact, as well as diluting the quality of content.

Looking at alternatives, some have suggested that advocacy could be the next big trend, with user-generated content potentially leading to higher levels of engagement.

So, what’s the difference between influence and advocacy? In broad terms, it seems the former is focused on driving awareness, while the latter is much more laser-focused on helping others to have the same positive experience as them.

Advocates can therefore be anyone that has experienced a brand or product, regardless of the size of their social media audience or how much engagement they have previously generated. This point is the key, as it ultimately takes away the competition element (and even the danger of fraud) as selection is purely based on genuine promotion and support for brands.