The importance of influence.

By IMA on Jan 04, 2020

Influencer image

The fourth and final part of our series exploring the subject of emotional marketing looks at the rise of influencers.

It’s love at first sight. Your friend’s new handbag, or maybe your boss’s new car. You want to know where to get one, but you don’t get a chance to ask. Or perhaps it’s a dress or suit worn by a celebrity on the red carpet that catches your eye. You search Google or ask a friend, hoping someone can help.

Every time this happens, it represents not just a dissatisfied consumer, but a lost sale. Monetising the influence of these situations can be an enormous marketing opportunity.

A brand is no longer what you tell consumers it is. It is what consumers tell each other it is.

In a world hyper-saturated with advertisements, social media has tipped the power from brands to creators through user-generated campaigns.

That’s why influencer marketing has expanded exponentially over the past few years. A relatively new term, influencer marketing is a process of finding and activating individuals that influence a targeted segment. Engaging them to increase sales of a promoted product or to act as a content creator to endorse a brand.

While still a young field, with the rules of play in flux, the term ‘influencer marketing’ increased by 325% in Google searches over 2018. Making this the fastest-growing online acquisition method of the last year and validation that influencers are becoming a serious part of the marketing mix.

From who to how.

Influencers are influencers for a reason. They know how to create unique and engaging content that resonates with their audience. They tell a brand’s story in their own voices, engaging their followers and inspiring them to check out a product.

“As humans we’re very drawn to that little guy versus big guy narrative. And that’s a story that can be very well told across influencer channels. Typically they’re relatively high dwell time. And that David and Goliath thing mirrors what’s happening in the influencer space. Influencers are the ultimate challenger brand. These bedroom publishers are going up against the big guys and are becoming more important than brands in terms of trusted opinions.”
Laura Ward-Ongley, CEO at TLA

Influencers are real people and often looked at as friends by audiences looking for a reality that they can emulate and buy into, as opposed to glamorous ads. While an influencer’s audience size is important, what’s more important is the right kind of audience.

Does the influencer match the values of a brand? Would they use the product in everyday life? Is it something they wholeheartedly believe in, and would recommend to their own friends and family? Taking the time to select an influencer that matches a brand and is able to deliver an authentic message to the specific target group makes it much more believable.

Once brands learn who’s best to work with, the focus becomes how to effectively activate them. Coming up with creative ways to collaborate with creators, there’s a need for it to be done more elegantly and emotionally, in a less superficial way.

How to effectively influence emotions.

Understandably brands are lining up to be associated with popular social media personas. But what makes them so attractive for brand partnerships? What makes their opinion so powerful?

It’s no secret that consumer behaviour is closely related to emotional biases, and the way consumers are affected by influencer marketing is no exception. In order to explain its effectiveness, we can look in the field of emotional psychology:

  1. Credibility and social proof
    While it’s important to be true to a brand, marketers need to think about who they work with, so they don’t lose credibility and trust from their community or followers. The credibility of an influencer depends on the factors of trustworthiness, expertise and power. One of the key elements of the power lies in expertise. An endorser who focuses on one particular subject or sector, will be perceived to have more credibility and therefore heightened knowledge when it comes to a particular brand. There is also the numbers game. The larger the following, and the subsequently greater shares and likes, the more likely it is to provide consumers with a valid form of social proof. If a bunch of people believe in it, it must be credible.
  2. Relatability
    A key factor that sets leading social media influencers apart is their relatability. Despite having a large social following and popularity, they are still perceived to mostly be normal, down-to-earth people. Posting about everyday life, staying connected with their followers and interacting directly with them creates an emotional connection with the same age group, demographic, interests and behaviours of the target audience. Naturally, the opinions of members of the same social group are worth more to people than those of a different group. Having a plausible role model that is relatable and easy to identify with makes it all the more likely that consumers will copy their behaviour, accelerating the path to purchase.
  3. Attractiveness
    Though we hate to admit it, vanity plays a role here too. As humans, we are susceptible to the laws of attraction and bias, subconsciously attributing attractive or charismatic people with many other qualities simply on sight. This is nothing new. Marketers have been using this strategy for years – look at old ads – everyone’s good looking or glamourous. The difference today is that influencers are personal brands or products, making them feel more achievable as well as aspirational to consumers. So, it’s ok to be transparent. Because when it comes down to it, basing one’s behaviour on that of another doesn’t just drive preference and purchase decisions. It leads to more appealing and positive associations between the consumer and the brand.

Takeaway: power to the people.

Influencers are accelerating the path to purchase by creating content that inspires audiences to take action. From awareness and consideration to conversion and preference, influencer marketing’s ability to drive consumer behaviour through the trusted opinions of their peers is one of the hottest tactics in every marketer’s media mix.

For more information on how to get influencer marketing to work for your brand, contact our influencer team.