Brand Advocate vs Brand Ambassador: What's the Difference?
If you’re looking to elevate your brand through the power of brand ambassadorship or advocacy, but you’re unsure about whether your business would better benefit from the support of brand ambassadors or advocates, or even both, we’re here to help.
Discover the differences between brand advocates and ambassadors, and how they can help elevate your brand.
Brand ambassadors are officially recognized by the brand as representatives. Their purpose is to use different marketing techniques, such as word-of-mouth marketing or user-generated content (UGC), to spread powerful, positive messages about the brand.
A good brand ambassador is someone who genuinely loves the product or software, uses it and advocates for it in a natural and authentic manner. In return for this type of loyalty, the brand will then reward the ambassador in a variety of ways. Depending on the structure of your brand ambassador program, some ambassadors will be rewarded with free products or invited to exclusive events, or paid on a monetary basis.
For more information about the purpose of brand ambassadors, how they work, and how they can be rewarded, read our guide, What is a Brand Ambassador and What Do They Do?.
Customers make truly great ambassadors due to their authenticity and genuine love for the brand. Always consider customers in your arsenal of ambassadors as they will likely be your most powerful allies in spreading positive word-of-mouth to potential customers and clients. Discover how to utilise your current customer base in our guide, How to Transform your Customers into Brand Ambassadors.
Often customer ambassadors will only be able to reach small audiences, however, these audiences are usually highly engaged and trusting due to the nature of the relationship between the customer and their connections. For example, usually their connections will be loved ones such as family and friends.
Customer ambassadors are very valuable and highly authentic because they are ‘real people’ with real opinions. They spread a brand’s message because they want and choose to do so – this makes their marketing efforts truly authentic and valuable.
Influencers fall under the umbrella of ambassadors, however, influencers can be separate entities without being ambassadors.
An influencer is typically someone within your industry, who has a large following and presence on social media. This could include celebrities, micro-influencers (those with an engaged social media following), and content creators such as bloggers or vloggers.
Influencers will usually have a niche or authority in a particular topic or industry. This makes their ambassadorship valuable because they are able to sway others through positive word-of-mouth marketing on a wider scale than customers may be able to. In fact, 61% of consumers are likely to trust recommendations from an influencer on social platforms while only 38% are likely to trust recommendations from a brand on social platforms.
Sometimes however, influencer ambassadorship may not be seen as authentic as customer ambassadorship because influencers are often transactionally driven. For example, “19% of consumers feel influencer content has been ‘tone-deaf and/or unhelpful’”. This is why it’s beneficial to have a good balance of both influencer and customer ambassadors for your brand.
Brand advocates are similar to ambassadors in that they can include anyone who actively promotes and supports your brand. That said, brand advocates are not formally recognised by the brand, unlike ambassadors.
Put simply, brand advocates are real people who love using your brand’s products or services, and genuinely believe in your brand.
They will use multiple marketing methods, such as publishing UGC or writing sparkling reviews, to promote and support your business. This type of marketing activity conducted by brand advocates is typically called brand advocacy. There are many benefits of brand advocacy, including but not limited to, boosting your brand presence, increasing sales and enhancing your reputation.
Customers can be both ambassadors and advocates, depending on whether they are officially recognised by the brand. Customers can make the strongest of advocates because they aren’t affiliated with your brand in any way, meaning that any marketing they conduct for you is truly authentic and therefore, valuable.
According to HubSpot research for example, 90% of people believe brand recommendations from friends, while 70% believe consumer opinion. These figures emphasise that the everyday customer can have a paramount impact on their loved ones purchasing decisions.
Industry experts and professionals
Industry experts and professionals are influential figures or thought leaders within a particular industry or sector. Having experts and professionals with knowledge of the wider industry as brand advocates can be very helpful in elevating your brand above competitors.
As advocates, they have the power to offer your target audience expert opinion and reliable information that consumers can trust. Industry experts and professionals may not always be actual customers, but their knowledge of what is and isn't proving successful in a particular space can be highly useful for brands.
Employees can offer a unique perspective to your brand because they are immersed in the business and have a great understanding of it. It’s arguably, also in their own interest to help the brand in whichever way they can because they (hopefully) care enough.
Employees have the power to share positive experiences about their day-to-day work life, and act as experts by offering insider knowledge of the brand and its products/services.
Both seasoned and new employees can be beneficial brand advocates as both will be able to offer different perspectives and insights. The newer employee can offer insights from a more fresh perspective, while the seasoned employee will know the business inside and out, and have the historic knowledge required to help uplift your brand into the future.
Having a mix of both ambassadors and advocates to elevate your brand is valuable because both can increase the awareness of your brand, drive sales and enhance your overall reputation.