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Influence vs. Advocacy in a Social Media Crisis

What is the difference between an advocate and an influencer? How will they act when it comes to crisis communications?

Jay Baer, the main man at Convince and Convert, shared an infographic recently on the difference between influencers and advocates. He encouraged his readers to share the infographic, so I thought it might be a good exercise to understand how these two groups influence our understanding of how crisis information might be shared in social media. Jay has written about the subject before here, so this piece was a good visual reminder of his earlier thoughts.  

Baer highlights two issues we need to keep in mind: one group has the power to drive action, the other just drives awareness. Awareness in itself is not without benefits, but Baer maintains that we tend to confuse audience with influence, meaning numbers are not a measure of influence, just a measure of reach. The second issue is one of passion. Jay says, "Advocacy is driven by the depth of conviction, and influencers typically are less committed to the product or company than are actual customer advocates."


When it comes to crisis communications planning, we need to keep in mind the effect that each of these groups will have on our message, and what the advantages and disadvantages of each may be.

Influencers will:

  • help spread your message and reach a wide audience by retweeting and reposting your information.
  • help spread other sources’ messages as well, despite whether they support your information or not.

Influencers may not:

  • advocate for your side of the story regardless of whether you are right or wrong.
  • gain the trust of their audience (see infographic)
  • stay with the crisis, but may forget about the event after the initial burst of information is spread and move on to another news story.

Advocates will:

  • help spread you message and reach a wide audience by retweeting and reposting your information (same as influencers).
  • probably spread other sources’ messages that only support your position and emphasize information that will help you mitigate your event.
  • post their own sentiments that advocate for your position.
  • Stay with the event and spread messages throughout the duration of the crisis.

See the infographic with Jay’s post here.

I’d like to hear your thoughts about the infographic. Which of the statistics strikes you?  You’re welcome to start a discussion in the comments.

Join The Conversation

  • ChrisSyme's picture
    Jul 17 Posted 5 years ago ChrisSyme

    As always, Jay, I am a fan.I know this has many implications for business, but I love the way this concept works for crisis communications. Thanks again for providing quality info.

  • JasonBaer's picture
    Jul 17 Posted 5 years ago JasonBaer

    Thanks Chris. I appreciate the kind words!

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