Influencer or Advocate, you make the call.

By Ted Wright October 14, 2019


influencer or advocate

Every marketer has influencers on their mind today. It appears to be an unavoidable conversation at any meeting or conference. But I think the term “influencer” is overly used to camouflage garden variety advertising. Same kind of messaging and effort. Differences are that the channel you are viewing it on and the people producing the spot have changed.  How they are paid (size of audience) and how they are judged (audience interaction with the message) is much the same as it was in 1955.

  • Perhaps the most-discussed influencers from the marketing perspective are “creators” (aka “micro-broadcasters”) who act just like advertising actors/directors/writers but use social media channels to distribute commercial messages they are being paid to share.
  • In the general press, an “influencer” might be somebody like Kim Kardashian who is a celebrity spokesmodel.
  • It could be Jake Paul, who is an online entertainer promoting a new movie.
  • Amazon actually calls their affiliate marketers “influencers.” These are straight up sales folk whose job is to get you to buy more stuff.
  • Most recently, there is a lot of attention on “micro-influencers.” These are just “influencers” (see above) with a smaller audience.
  • Historically, you might think of an influencer as your favorite teacher, a political leader, or a business mentor.

In marketing terms, is it correct to regard ALL of these people as influencers? They all have influence in some way, but what are we looking for when it comes to word of mouth marketing?

What makes a true influencer?

In my world, “influencer” is very well-defined and specific. It is not a term built on follower count or subscribers. It is a personality type.

The science of word of mouth marketing is built upon robust research that shows that about 10 percent of all people are influencers – individuals who live their lives to share stories.

These people share brand-related information 10X more than other people. They design their lives to discover interesting new things and then share that information with those they think are most likely to value that story.

Here is the beauty of true influencers. If you hand them a story that is authentic – something they believe – interesting, and relevant to the context of their life, your marketing is over. They take the story and share it.

In the long run, this is the most effective and cost-effective way to market your product in the long-term. But it requires a radical new mindset and a trust in the math.

If you have a good story, the influencers will seek you out and push the story forward.

I bring all this up to say this – IF YOU ARE GOING TO USE “INFLUENCERS” DO NOT CONFUSE THEM WITH ADVOCATES. “Influencers” are spokespeople — bought, sold, managed and rewarded in the exact same way.

Advocates are different. You must earn their loyalty (It can’t be bought) through the quality of your brand story and how you ask them to share the information with their friends. 

Influencers or advocates?


 They love what is new.

They talk about it endlessly.

They don’t need further encouragement.

Give them the story and they will do the rest.


Their joy is to get paid to capture and broadcast parts of their lives. Use this desire to get your brand message out there but don’t confuse the bicycle of “influencer marketing” with the motorcycle of Advocates because that mistake could cost you dearly.

Make sense?

Ted Wright


Ted Wright is the founder of Fizz, the world’s leading word of mouth marketing (WOMM) agency. Ted is also an acclaimed WOMM keynote speaker and the author of Fizz: Harness the Power of Word of Mouth Marketing to Drive Brand Growth

Illustration — street art in Newcastle, UK 

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