6 ways to turn your influencers into brand advocates

Dhruv Maheshwari

Dhruv Maheshwari is a SaaS Content Marketer who helps SaaS brands get quality leads by designing a winning content strategy and creating outstanding content pieces. In his free time, he is chiseling his fitness goals and traveling around the world.

Did you know that today 1 in every 2 consumers relies on influencers for product recommendations? 

But what does that mean when it comes to conversions? 

According to a study by Annalect, an analytics company, about 40% of the surveyed respondents purchased something online based on an influencer’s recommendation.

It’s not surprising then to know that influencer marketing campaigns earn $6.85 for every dollar spent. That’s a whopping ROI of about 600%. 

Many companies have started recognizing the advantages of influencer marketing, but to explore its full potential, you must convert these influencers into brand advocates. We bring to you six easy steps that will help you achieve just that.

Let’s first take a look at some real-life influencer marketing success stories.

Success stories of various influencer marketing campaigns 

  1. Fabletics Nano and Micro-Influencer Focused Campaign:

Many studies state that nano-influencers (social media users with 1000-10,000 followers) and micro-influencers (social media users with 10,000-100,000 followers) garner more engagement than macro-influencers or celebrities.

Fabletics, a women’s activewear company, brought in 12 female influencers to raise awareness about their brand and increase engagement. They inspired fans and followers to join their movement using hashtags such as #MyFabletics and #KickButtLookCute.

The influencers shared their high-quality images wearing a Fabletics outfit and posted detailed captions about workout/lifestyle tips, hopes, struggles, inspirational messages, etc.

Here’s one such post by yoga and fitness trainer Frances Flores.

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An analysis of 56 such posts showed that they reached 177,212 followers with a high engagement rate of about 10%.

  1. Tom’s of Maine innovative influencer marketing campaign

Tom’s of Maine, a personal care products manufacturer, turned to micro-influencers who didn’t have many followers but whose followers matched 100% with their target audience. 

They make toiletries from natural ingredients, and therefore they needed influencers with a follower base of health-conscious buyers.

The former community manager for Tom’s, Bridget Burns, said that the main goal behind their micro-influencer campaign was to find real people that enjoy their product so much that they would be willing to promote it free of charge.

These micro-influencers talked about toiletries, and they encouraged their followers to do the same as well. 

They managed to start a conversation around their product niche, and this brilliant tactic brought in 44 million potential clients in the first three months itself. Their Instagram community also grew by 8%.

Now that we have seen the success these campaigns can bring even to small businesses, let us understand the difference between influencers and brand advocates.

Influencers vs. brand advocates 

Influencers: An influencer can impact the purchase decisions of their followers because of their authority in the specific niche. They are usually compensated by money or other benefits like discounts, merchandise, etc., to promote a particular brand. 

Based on the number of followers, various influencers include macro-influencers/celebrities, micro-influencers, and nano influencers.

Brand advocates: These are people in the online community who have used your product/service and believe in it. 

They might not have a considerable number of followers or monetary backing, but they’re willing to promote your brand on social media because they’re passionate about it.

Who do you think wins the battle?

According to a study, while 18% of people trust brand influencers, 92% trust brand advocates. There are many reasons behind the same. Let’s take a look at them:

  • An influencer’s true motivation is to grow their audience and not to promote your brand or products. Brand advocates will promote your products more genuinely if they find them valuable and helpful for their followers.
  • Influencers drive awareness but not specific actions or, importantly, behaviors to purchase a product, subscribe to a tool, etc. In contrast, brand advocates prompt people to take action due to their solid and passionate appeal.
  • Because a brand advocate has had a great experience with your brand, they are loyal to you and driven by this loyalty; they have a much better chance at helping in customer conversions than do influencers.
  • An influencer may post about your brand once or twice, depending on the agreement, but a brand advocate will be associated with your brand for a longer time.

Does that mean influencer marketing is not good? Of course not. It is way more effective than other forms of traditional marketing but to get even better results; you should aim at turning your best influencers into brand advocates.

How can a shift from influencers to brand advocates benefit your brand?

Celebrities and macro-influencers promoting your brand can drive up your traffic and engagement, but the real question remains – How much of this traffic actually lead to conversions?

There are two main reasons why the term brand advocacy is doing the rounds:

  1. It’s cost-effective: Suppose you are a baker. You tried out a different brand of cocoa powder for your chocolate cake. The cake turned out to be better than your normal ones. You went on your Instagram and posted about the new cocoa powder brand.

You don’t have a vast audience, but the people who follow you look up to you for baking advice. Your followers would now know about that cocoa brand, and when they decide to purchase cocoa powder, they would remember it.

What did that cocoa brand achieve? They ended up reaching their target audience without shelling out loads of money. Not only that, they ended up gaining more respect and reputation. 

How? 

It’s one thing to have a loyal customer, but having a loyal customer who vouches for your product and posts about it to their followers automatically builds a reputation in the minds of those followers.

  1. It is authentic: As we have already seen, people trust brand advocates more than influencers. 

If we consider our earlier example, it’s clear that people are bound to feel it as authentic when a person into baking recommends a brand.

The authenticity of your brand drops when influencer posts about it, mainly because they aren’t connected to baking or regularly promote different brands. 

So, how do you make this effective shift? Let’s take a look.

Ways to turn your influencers into brand advocates

  1. Find the right influencers for your brand. 

According to a study by InfluencerDB, there are more than 500,000 active influencers on Instagram alone. 

A good thing about that: your brand has many opportunities for influencer collaboration. But what it also means is that you’ll have to put in more work to find the perfect fit.

Suppose you want to promote your project management software. Would it be helpful to bring in an influencer who has a large following but only posts about fashion or beauty? No, right? 

It would just lead to money going down the drain as their followers would be least interested in your niche. 

Not only that, this influencer would promote your software, but since they have no relation to your area of business or passion for project management, you would not be able to turn this influencer into your brand advocate.

Let’s go through the five steps to help you pick the right influencers that can eventually turn into your brand advocates.

  1. Find a match between your brand’s and the influencer’s target audience: 

This is where most brands go wrong. They fail to delve deep and pinpoint their exact target audience. For example, you sell beauty products. You know you have to look for a beauty blogger. But is that it?

No. 

Not every beauty blogger has the same kind of audience. 

Some would be targeting millennials, some whose followers are interested in only organic beauty products, some who target middle-aged women, and yet others whose followers are into natural homemade remedies.

Ask yourself questions like, “Who benefits the most from my products?”, “People in what age range would preferably buy this product?”, “Am I targeting just beauty-conscious women or women who are into 100% natural products?”

Once you figure out the answers to these questions, look for influencers with the same target audience.

  1. Try different ways to shortlist the influencers in your niche:

You might know the top influencers for your area of interest, but what if you don’t have a high budget? Or what if you are looking to tie up with a micro/nano influencer to garner more engagement and conversions?

Here are three different ways to do that:

  • Search using hashtags: Search for hashtags that are relevant to your brand. You may find many posts related to your niche. Check out the creator’s profile, engagement rate, content type, and finalize.
  • Check the comments of top influencers: While you may not want to pair up with top influencers in your niche but, you might find many micro/nano influencers comment on their posts. 
  • Track mentions: By tracking your brand mentions, your competitor’s brand mentions, and your category mentions, you can find out various influencers that are relevant to your niche.
  1. Look for the engagement metrics:

You want to partner with an influencer who the audience trusts, someone who can influence the opinions of their followers. Without that trust component, your collaboration efforts would not give you effective results.

One way to tell if your potential influencer is trusted is to check their engagement level. Is the influencer’s content resulting in plenty of views, likes, comments, and shares?

A good engagement may mean that the influencer has a loyal following rather than a high count of fake followers.

  1. Look out for a consistent tone, look, feel, and values.

You are in the B2B generation field. On your social media, you share strategies and tips for businesses. You pair up with an influencer that only shares memes and humorous content. Do you see a mismatch here?

You should avoid such a mismatch at all costs. The tone of the influencer’s content must be appropriate for the way you want to present your brand to those potential customers.

Dennis Prescott, a cook and professional photographer, is perfect for the partnership with Traeger Grills. When Traeger Grills reposts Dennis’s content on their feed, it seamlessly fits their content.

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  1. Look out for sponsorship saturation:

You might have found the perfect influencer for your brand that meets all the above requirements. But what if they have a lot of sponsored content on their account?

The trust factor, in this case, may not be a lot. Think for yourself. Would you trust an influencer that shares a lot of sponsored products? Worse yet, what if the influencer has already collaborated with several of your competitors?

This would indicate that even if the collaboration effort results in decent engagement, the conversions would be amiss. So, what should be the limit? 

YouTube influencer Laura Reid recommends having only one in every five or ten posts sponsored.

  1. Build a genuine relationship with them 

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For an influencer to promote your brand passionately and become a brand advocate, a genuine relationship is necessary. 

Don’t just ask them to promote your product; let them use the product for themselves, assist them at every stage, ask for their opinions and feedback and help solve their problems with your product.

There are four different ways you can do this:

  1. Know your influencers better: 

Brands that will treat influencer collaborations as just a business deal will only get short-term results. 

Instead, have a sincere interest in your influencers.

Just knowing that he is a tech blogger isn’t enough. Go through his posts, understand what type of content his followers are more interested in, know the causes he supports and leave genuine comments on his posts.

How does this help? Let’s take an example to understand. You are a website design agency. You found a post on your influencer’s feed that says personalizing websites is difficult but essential. 

While helping that influencer understand your brand, why not give him some tips related to personalization that he can share with his audience?

Would you have been able to do this if you hadn’t taken a genuine interest in learning more about him? Probably not.

  1. Give them creative freedom:

You might think that a promotional post in the form of a product picture may work best. But your influencer may know from experience that an infographic works best or a video gets impressive results.

The influencer’s creativity appeals to their audience and makes them different from brand ambassadors. Allowing them creative freedom shows that you trust them, which is why they would want to work with you in the long term.

Research proves the same. A study by Crowdtap says that an influencer’s top reason for having a long-term relationship with a brand is access to creative freedom.

Shutterfly is one such example when it comes to building genuine relationships with influencers. 

In one of their campaigns, the brand partnered with influential mom bloggers for their home decor line. They showed their creativity by coming up with DIY and craft projects using Shutterfly’s home decor products.

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The campaign ended up being successful, with high engagement rates and sales opportunities coming their way.

  1. Build a mutually beneficial relationship:

Big misconception brands have is that influencers work for free or samples alone. 

While some influencers may accept them, to build long-lasting relationships, adequate compensation is necessary. After all, they are spending their time and efforts on your brand.

By compensating them, you’re also sending across a message that you value them. 

You can also promote and share their content. Apart from monetary incentives, what they value is engagement. 

You can help them increase their engagement rate by following them, leaving genuine comments on their posts, reposting relevant content, and starting conversations to engage their community.

  1. Help them resonate with your brand. 

Let’s assume you run a toy manufacturing company. The specialty of the toys you manufacture is that you create them using eco-friendly or recycled products. 

You pair up with various mom bloggers to promote your products and raise brand awareness and conversions.

Can you turn these influencers into brand advocates by just asking them to use your toys and promote them by clicking beautiful pictures where their kids enjoy playing with the toys? Probably not, right?

But instead, you take a different approach. You help the influencer understand your specialty, the reason behind why eco-friendly products are necessary for this industry, what makes up your brand’s vision, your essence, and target audience. 

You can even go one step further to show them your manufacturing division and how you source their materials.

Once those influencers understand how your brand accommodates into their lifestyle, wouldn’t they be in a better position to trust your brand and turn into a loyal customer and even a brand advocate?

That’s the power you can gain if you dedicate some time to your influencer marketing campaigns. 

With consistent engagement with your brand over time, these influencers will understand the nuances of how your brand works and thus better target followers with customized content for your brand.

  1. Find different ways to elevate your brand with their help.

Just because you found the right influencer for your brand doesn’t mean that the work is over. You need to come up with different ways in which the collaboration can be long-term and beneficial.

Here is a list of things you can try to elevate your brand:

  1. Social media takeover:

You can invite the influencer to take over your social media channel for a day. This gives a much-needed twist to your everyday branded content, and seeing a familiar face on your brand’s account helps build proximity with your audience.

A trusted influencer’s opinion on your brand’s products or services will also carry far more weightage than your voice.

For example, invite an established influencer from your niche to talk about your marketing agency and how you can help reduce the cost per lead. It will be beneficial for the audience, and it will be more trusted.

Finnair, one of Finland’s largest airlines, let a few of its flight attendants take over their Instagram account for three days and post images and descriptive captions about their life as a flight attendant, the places they’ve visited, etc. 

Some of the pictures included photos of destinations they saw while working.

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Some of the posts got great engagement, and Finnair managed to give their big corporate brand a face and motivate people to travel through their airlines by sharing pictures of beautiful destinations.

  1. Live events: 

Conducting live events is a great way to educate the audience about your brand. It can nudge them to ask you and your influencer, different questions related to your product.

It gives a human touch to your brand and induces trust in it as the audience feels that you’ll be there for them. 

While this tactic might work best for products that have a bit of a learning curve, like technical tools, there are many innovative ways you can find to use them for non-technical products as well.

For example, if you are into the beauty segment, you can ask your influencer to demonstrate the benefits of your product in a live event or demonstrate how to best use your products.

Best Fiends, a social gaming app, partnered with a famous social influencer, Laura Clery, who played the game with her husband on Facebook Live and added her characteristic humor in the video. 

The video generated 464k views, 8000 likes, and over 8000 comments.

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  1. Content series: 

To turn your influencers into brand advocates, you can collaborate to create consistent content that engages your audiences. For example, you can go for a series of posts related to various content marketing statistics and tips if you are a content marketing agency. You might want to decide which social media platform or channel would be best for this series.

  1. Affiliate marketing: 

When a sale happens because of the influencer’s promotion, they get paid as per the agreement made with you. They get a commission on all sales that they generate using their influence and content.

As the influencer first needs to trust your product enough to encourage their audience to buy from you, this step can help you build brand advocacy. 

It helps in increasing conversions as the influencer is engaged actively with your offering.

  1. Be willing to test their ideas and opinions. 

Macy’s, an American department store chain, invited a group of influencers to their preview event for their new watch collection. While all those influencers were present at the same event, the photo styles they ended up creating were utterly different.

Macy’s could have given them specific instructions and specific themes, but they refrained from doing so. Why?

Because they understood one crucial point, these influencers have reached where they are currently by trying and testing different themes. 

They have a better idea than you do about which content style or tone works the best for their audience. 

When you give them the freedom to work in their own way instead of micromanaging every single detail, you ensure that these influencers stay with you in the long run and possibly turn into brand advocates for your brand.

So Macy’s understood that they would get the best results by allowing those influencers to showcase their skills.

The result was excellent. Here are some posts from that event.

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Here is another example of how Snickers collaborated with Vimal Chandran, an artist, and photographer.

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How can you do this for your brand? 

Have open discussions with your influencers, understand why they wish to follow a specific type of content theme, talk about their engagement metrics with different mediums such as reels and live videos, offer your opinions, and be willing to listen to theirs.

  1. Measure the ROI and make changes accordingly.

While you may think your campaign was a success because some posts managed to get great engagement. However, is that the only metric you can use to measure ROI? Absolutely not.

Here are some ways you can measure the campaign’s ROI:

  1. With the help of promo codes and UTM parameters: 

If you have given your influencers their special promo codes or UTM parameters, you can measure an increase in sales or channel performance, such as an increase in web traffic.

  1. The volume of mentions: 

Is there a spike in the number of people mentioning your brand? This can be an excellent way to check an increase in brand awareness.

  1. Sentiment analysis: 

Has the collaboration led to a difference in the way people talk about and perceive your brand? Do they instantly recall your brand when it comes to your market?

  1. Topic and source analysis: 

From where are you getting the most mentions? Is that source leading to any return for your business? Is there any mention of your brand in the topics that are associated with your products?

Once you measure your collaboration on different facets that matter to your brand and match it up with the goals you started with, you may find that some areas are not giving you expected results.

It might be the engagement on certain content mediums or that people are still hesitant to buy your products or get attention from the social media channel that works best for you.

Dig deep and find out the why behind all these reasons and reformulate your strategy. Once you do that, you have a better chance of increasing ROI, motivating your influencers to work with you consistently, and turn into brand advocates.

How using a platform like HypeAuditor can help you with your influencer marketing campaigns? 

Do you have trouble finding the right influencers for your brand? Or maybe you found the right influencer, but you don’t know how to analyze your campaign?

HypeAuditor helps you in every step from helping you find influencers, detecting frauds, providing you with influencer’s basic info and contact, their audience demographics, and so on.

Not only that, the tool provides you with category rankings for each influencer, so you know where that influencer stands in your overall category.

Suppose your target segment is quite detailed, like only consisting of women or some ethnicity or a particular age group. In that case, HypeAuditor allows you to get all that information from your influencer’s audience so you can make the right choice.

Furthermore, they also have an audience quality score based on factors such as reachability, authenticity, and so on.

Their engagement and growth analysis is also top-notch, making sure you get accurate results about your campaign.

Trusted by leading brands such as Amazon, H&M, Unilever, and with over 750,000 influencers and businesses, HypeAuditor can help you get the most effective results from your influencer marketing campaigns and thus help you turn these influencers into brand advocates.




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