The 8 Types of Brand Advocates

By William Flanagan
Modified July 6, 2021, Posted in ,

This blog post is about brand advocates, specifically about the eight types of brand advocates that I have identified on social media.

Yes, I am afraid, that we are not done with archetypes yet. There is so much more to say.

I have spent a lot of time figuring out how archetypes can be useful to me in marketing. In my messaging on social media and how to chose to communicate with my customers.

This time I want to focus a bit on different kinds of archetypes. We are not talking Jungian archetypes here. But, how the idea of archetypes has been used to create categories of brand advocates. Specifically, categories of social media brand advocates.

What is brand advocacy?

A little refresher. When we talk about advocacy marketing, we are talking about

the process of harnessing the positive voices and experiences of our current customers in our marketing outreach. Advocacy marketing is considered more authentic because it is real people sharing their positive experience and thus amplifying the voice of your brand.

Dictionary.com

Advocates can be powerful advocates of your brand because they are powered by real human connections.

Social media networks have amplified the importance of brand advocates for businesses. And, by extension, the influence of brand advocates both with their own followers and with the brands they promote. Using the right kind of incentives can motivate these brand advocates to really amplify the voice of your brand. It is a great way to expand your marketing outreach by reaching the brand advocate’s followers.

But, on the flip side, it is possible for influencers to torpedo your own marketing efforts. Sometimes a negative review can create an avalanche of bad publicity. Such is the power of social media.

The Eight Types of Brand Advocates

There are a number of different categorizations for brand advocates out there. The one I am using has eight different types of Brand Advocates:

  • the Accidental Tourist
  • the Tweeter
  • the Advocate
  • the Flag Planter
  • the Analyst
  • the Anonymous One
  • the VIP
  • the Detective
brand advocate accidental tourist

Type one is called the ‘accidental Tourist’ because this kind of brand advocate does not set out to advocate your brand. They stumble onto something in their casual browsing and think it is worth a re-tweet or an Instagram shoutout, a Pinterest tile, or that it looks pretty in their Facebook timeline. They did not seek out information about your brand, care about it, or want to promote it. There is little you as a brand can do to effectively target these kinds of accidental brand advocates.

brand advocate tweeter

Type two is called ‘The Tweeter’ with a capital T. This kind of brand advocate is very eager to share anything and everything with their followers. They are not attached to your brand, they just might find your marketing interesting. Their followers tend to be numerous and hanging on the Tweeters every word. Like the Tourist, the Tweeter is not seeking to keep himself or his followers informed. Instead, they want to entertain their followers and keep them engaged. You can keep these kinds of brand advocates engaged with your brand by providing interesting and entertaining tidbits in your social media messaging that are easy to share with your followers.

brand advocate the advocate

Type three is the Advocate. This type of brand advocate is in love with your brand. Unlike the Tourist and the Tweeter, the Advocate has used your product or service and is now a loyal customer. But not only are they committed to your brand, but they also want to preach about it to their followers and the world at large. They will spread the word because they honestly care about the brand, even if they don’t have a stake in its success. Because they are committed to your brand, there is no need to provide digestible marketing morsels.

brand advocate flag planter

Type four is the Flag Planter. This type of brand advocate was an early adapter or discoverer of your brand. For them, it is as important to promote your brand as it is to let everyone know that they were there first. They will search high and low for products and services that rock and they will be tireless in bringing what they find to their followers’ attention. They get their cache from being cool and first.

brand advocate analyst

Type five is the Analyst. This type of brand advocate will not promote anything without having done detailed research. Their bread and butter is data and analytics, charts, and graphics. They will not rest until they know everything there is to know about a subject. Their cache is built on knowledge, on bringing information to their followers. On being able to advise them on products and services. Be aware that this kind of brand advocate cannot be won over with entertaining tidbits or cool ideas. They rely on just the facts, please. They will do their due diligence before sharing with their followers, and their verdict can be critical.

brand advocate anonymous

Type six is the Anonymous One. This type of brand advocate does not seek the public validation that the Flap Planter strives for. Instead, the Anonymous One works stealthily and chooses to post anonymously. They will search out secret brand deals and share them on their chosen social media network. Their cache rests on being in the know and having credibility. Despite posting mostly anonymously, they can be an influential brand advocate.

Type seven is the VIP. These are the celebrities with big follower counts who share loudly about anything and everything. Whether they know anything about it or not. They might have great things to say or they might not. Their followers follow them because of their celebrity, not because of their knowledge or insights. Unless they are actually paid for advertising your brand, they do not seek out to advocate for your brand. But, they want to seem likable and relatable to their followers. And so they might tangentially advocate your brand if they believe it will benefit them in the long run with their followers.

Type eight is known as the Detective. If they believe that your brand can help the people they care about, they will advocate for it. But, they are ruthless in hunting down internet scams, recalls, email scams, corporate scandals, you name it. They will stop at nothing to stop their followers from being exposed to fraud online. They will patrol the social media networks for anything untoward. They feel compelled to share what they believe is not well-known information.

The 2 modes of brand advocate archetypes

We can group these archetypes according to two modes: content or relationship/ timing/ information. Meaning, whether the source of their brand advocacy lies with the social media content or with the relationship/ timing/ information.

Anonymous, VIP, the Tweeter, and the Detective are grouped under content type.

The advocate, the analyst, the flag planter, and the tourist are grouped based on relationship, timing or the information presented itself.

How to amplify your social media messaging

You will not reach all brand advocate archetypes with your social media messaging all the time. Some are by definition beyond your reach. Focus on the type of brand advocates you can and want to rope into promoting your brand. Determine what it takes to engage with the different types of brand advocates. Then choose a strategy. Present entertaining tidbits of digestible content. Give early access to new products to a select few. Actively seek out brand ambassadorships. Turn customers into your brand advocates by fostering deeper connections.

Think about how your marketing dollars are most fruitfully spend and what kind of social media strategy will reach not only the most eyeballs but the eyeballs that matter: your perfect buyers.

Be deliberate in how you amplify your brand on social media. Don’t trust that the accidental tourist will simply discover you. Find out who might be useful in your particular niche. Who has cache in your niche? How many eyeballs can you reach? And, how can you engage with them?

10+ years of marketing agency experience. 10+ years (4 exits) of VC-funded startup experience. Dad. Musician. Coffee-lover. E-bike aficionado.
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