Should brands engage with social media (Twitter) Influencers or Brand Advocates?

By   June 29, 2014

‘Blogger Outreach’ or ‘Influencer program’ are two common terms that are buzzing these days amongst social media agencies and brand managers. Whatever is the objective – new product launch, store inauguration or sports association, every brand manager these days expects the campaign hashtag to trend, as (yes) it has been accepted in corporate environment as one of the key performance indicators (KPI) of a social media campaign. The code has been cracked by almost every social media agency, get in touch with few 10-15 active Twitter users (read ‘influencers’), and yes they should have certain thousand followers. Many a times these so called influencers have to be fed with predefined tweets (as they are so qualified that they cant write proper English!). What do these influencers get in return? Some cool gadgets to take home, lavish lunch/dinner at some five star hotel, free booze, an opportunity to meet some personalities and yes not to forget an opportunity to network (for future events!). The worst situation is when social media agencies / brand managers get in touch with one or two such influencers and ask them to bring along with them a couple more. This has led to a cartel of such influencers in every metro city of the country. These guys could be found tweeting about chips tonight, mobile phones tomorrow and an automobile day after. A serious question that brand managers need to ask themselves is do they really think these kind of influencers would do any justice to the brand?

If you are wondering why I am sarcastic over this existing scheme of things then here are three reasons: 1) These Twiteratti with large follower base have no brand / product category loyalty, 2) They might be promoting one product everyday and in worst case you won’t be surprised to find them promoting your competitor’s products tomorrow, 3) They are flawed influencers in the market & there are high chances your end customers might get misguided by them.

So, what is the solution? Brands should look forward to identify, nurture relationship and then leverage brand advocates. No doubt, it’s a long term process, but this would be a worthwhile effort. As exhibited below, it would be lethal for brands to assume that influencers with huge follower base are super advocates of their brands. A true influencer should be expert / well-verse with the product category, have sound understanding in the field, should be conversing about it regularly on his/her Twitter, should be creating emotional connect with his/her followers and hence earn loyal followers.

Twitter Influencers

I as a brand manager would any day prefer to work on this mode, build my own group of brand advocates over the period of time and leverage them with reference to various situations. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

9 Comments on “Should brands engage with social media (Twitter) Influencers or Brand Advocates?

  1. Pingback: What we brewed in #SMDelMeetup! | Anandan Pillai

  2. Kundan

    You never mince words! And that’s the best part. In the New Media industry esp. on Twitter, contests are the biggest gimmicks thanks to collusion of brand managers + influencers. Hope they land here and read this.

  3. Manjulika Pramod

    I so agree with your views the fake tweeting actually gets on my nerves sometimes. The same people promote one brand today and next day its competitor.
    I am a blogger too, I attend events but then there is a loyalty and ofcourse honest opinion that I love to flaunt.

    1. Anandan Post author

      Hi Manjulika,

      Thanks for reading it and finding it to be useful. Appreciate your honest opinion.

  4. Anshul Gupta

    Thanks Anandan for insights. I’ve got few questions which look forward to your views:

    Q. I suppose, brand managers are not always oblivious of the above fact that it is short term n may not guarantee even a short term return…Can it be intentional just to prove the point that brand is not absent in space?

    Q. What can a small firm/start-up do in such cluttered environment to stand apart with minimal budget? Because time is what they don’t have apart from other resources.


    1. Anandan Post author

      Hi Anshul,

      Thanks for reading the blogpost and initiating a discussion. Here are my views:

      1) As a brand manager if one is testing a new media, I believe its a sin to say that ‘I am not aware, how this medium works’. One has to be damn sure about every medium. Else, it is just a shallow swim without deep diving. Also, it should never be an excuse that I did it because brand needs to be present there on that platform. If it backfires, it can cause serious damage, and it has happened with brands like McDonalds where their hashtag went wrong and it trended for all wrong reasons!

      2) There is no shortcut in life and same applies to social media. If you want to build a strong meaningful community, one has to be patient. Else, such shortcuts will lead to spillage of budgets and time, without any meaningful result. Wouldn’t it be a favourable option to play a waiting game? I understand your point that startups can’t wait. In that case, brands need to depend on their content strategy. Create some kickass content, so that people spread your word fast. See how Zomato does it, right!

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