You opened your laptop, clicked Google Chrome, added tabs of work-related applications, Facebook, and YouTube. You saw the face of your favorite vlogger as he/she uploaded a new review video of a certain product. You suddenly clicked it and watched the whole thing. A few minutes later, you found yourself adding that product on your online shopping cart and waiting for it to arrive at your doorstep.
That's how it works. What happened in the middle is all about influencer marketing or how influencers use their power to influence buying behavior or simply deliver the message of a specific brand (who collaborated with them) to their audience or following.
Influencers are (mostly social media) personalities with a number of followers who use their own platform to share expertise, document personal lives, talents and such and to influence people. Through those, they gain loyal fans that become their market. And brands see this as an opportunity to spread brand awareness and their marketing message.
On Social Proof
Check this blog first if you haven't heard of Social Proof.
Influencers are also leaders on their own and as mentioned in the blog about social proof, most people nowadays need a leader who can provide them social proof to reach a buying decision.
For example, influencer Jen used a skincare line. Jen has many followers/subscribers and known to be a beauty and health expert in the YouTube community. She documented everything on her YouTube Channel and after using the products for a month she gave a review on it.
In this manner, Jen gave her loyal viewers social proof in a form of review/testimonial and expert opinion. It's one of the perfect formulae where an influencer can effectively deliver the message of a brand and it's an effective channel.
Why it Works and the Sense of Trust
For it to work effectively, the brand, who would try influencer marketing, must choose the right influencer. He/she must speak and embody the brand well and connect with it genuinely.
The influencer already has his/her own brand and it should match to the company he/she will be working with.
It works because as the sense of trust is put to the influencer by his/her own followers that almost whatever comes out to her mouth will be like a command to her own loyal followers.
Sometimes, companies don't bother how much followers an influencer has. A micro-influencer with a strong, maybe not in quantity but authentic and a solid following is enough. They are still for reaching a real audience because sometimes a portion of a large number of followers are bots, fake accounts and such.
On Cognitive Biases
Consumer behavior is related to cognitive biases. The effect of influencers can be explained psychologically.
Aside from social proof, people also look for the credibility of the influencer and a study has shown that it all depends on the influencer's trustworthiness, expertise, attractiveness, and similarity.
And as the followers or even a casual viewer see that the influencer proves trustworthiness, shows expertise, relativity, and similarity, they will likely listen.
What's compelling is that attractiveness is also a factor that is being considered, maybe subconsciously. And it has been used as a strategy by marketing experts for ages. Remember the Hollywood actor or celebrity endorsing a brand? It is because attractive bias makes people susceptible because good-looking people or charismatic people have been associated with good qualities that brand takes advantage of every single time.
On the Fatigue
With Influencer Marketing earning its spot on the top strategies in business, people get tired as their favorite personalities say nothing more than the brand they are collaborating with. And if it's too much, it will become less authentic.
Some influencers won't even admit that the 'review' or the 'PR package' is sponsored so that whatever they will say is ungenuine. And people can get sneaky at times. This can lead to broken trust in the influencer or lesser credibility.
Most of the time, it would be better to just admit if one thing is sponsored or not. Integrity can lead to credibility and, apparently, authority.
Authenticity is the Key
Choosing the right and powerful influencer is also a quest for authenticity. Those who can easily connect with the brand without compromising his/her own individuality and authenticity will succeed.
In this era, where people crave authenticity, PR talk is considered as fake social proof. And is dangerous to the brand itself.
You may now be convinced to use influencer marketing as your next strategy but please note that not every product or service can effectively promote or increase brand awareness by an influencer. It will always depend on the influencer and the product.
For example, a skincare line. The brand can look for beauty enthusiasts and experts. A travel application to a travel vlogger/blogger.
It is indeed limited. If it's a roofing company or a clock, who can be an influencer to that right? They can get an endorser, but it would be hard to look for an influencer who can give expert opinions.
The right influencer can catapult the business to success. It's not just looking for who's famous and powerful but looking for someone who can be still on their own self and still deliver authentic brand awareness.