UK digital agency Qube Media has prepared a detailed report into the theory and practice of influencer and advocate marketing, two buzzwords which have come to the fore over the past couple of years.
Influencer and advocate marketing is, in simple terms, word-of-mouth advertising, but one of the report's initial findings is that "consistent language-use describing influencer and advocate marketing is still emerging."
The importance of having consistent language is that agencies, clients and brands know what each other is talking about.
Qube lists "travel instagrammers, football youtubers, fashion bloggers, food and drink vloggers" as influencers which brands can engage with. Advocate are "superfans" who have less reach than influencers and are more difficult for brands to work directly with.
The importance of "word-of-mouth" in 21st century commerce is outlined in a quotation from McKinsey: “Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions.” The quote is a few years old but still rings true.
In a travel context, the obvious manifestation of influencers is the blogging community, and Qube shares some examples about its own use of influencer and advocate marketing. It notes however that in 2012 is ran a blog press trip for a client:
"The experience was very mixed – some low-level influencers came across as very unprofessional, trying to hold a brand to ransom with their demands in exchange for holidays, flights and upgrades etc."
Changes in the relationship between the industry and the blogging community have evolved and matured since 2012, and interestingly Qube highlights Instagram as an increasingly important platform.
As an example of how to use advocates rather than influencers to help a brand Qube refers to its work with Air Mauritius. In simple terms, it persuaded the people of Mauritius to go online and become advocates of the airline and the destination.
Across all sectors there is an interest in advocate and influencer marketing, with Qube referencing a study which claimed 84% of marketers are planning some sort of advocate/influencer campaign over the next year or so.
However, its own research for the report found that "only 30% felt their team currently had all the skills required to effectively manage an influencer or advocate programme."
Click here for details about how to download the report.
NB Image by Jakub Jirsak/BigStock.
Related reading from Tnooz:
As bloggers adapt, so should DMOs who want to work with them (July 2015)
Influencer marketing is ideal for hotels (July 2016)