Jay Baer is one of the leading social marketing speakers and authors that I pay attention to. He recently penned a fantastic blog post and infographic that provides a great comparison of influencers versus brand advocates.
Influencer outreach is a key element of many social media and modern public relations programs. But they often prove ineffective at driving behavior beyond social chatter. I wrote a post about why this is so, called Why Online Influencer Outreach is Overrated and How to Fix It. The biggest issue is that we tend to confuse audience with influence. Having a lot of Twitter followers doesn’t give you the power to drive action, it gives you the power to drive awareness.
“Versus” posts are popular but aren't the reality. Fortunately, marketers don't have to make a choice between investing in one strategy or the other. This is one of those strategies. First, the proof is in the return on investment. You may find that an influence outreach program is an affordable means of driving attention to your brand and subsequent conversions. If you're a new product or service, you may not have enough advocates and you need to leverage influencer audiences. Second, there's a pretty strong herd mentality on the web. Influence can lead to advocacy, it need not be one or the other.