What Can We Learn from Influencer Marketing?

What Can We Learn from Influencer Marketing?

In a study conducted in 2017, 70% of millennial consumers responded that they are heavily influenced by recommendations from peers when making buying decisions. In the same study, 30% of consumers said they are more likely to buy a product when it is recommended by a non-celebrity blogger (or influencer).

In that same study, it was found that non-celebrity influencers are 10x more likely to influence a consumer to make an in-store purchase. Those are some pretty solid numbers. (You can see the entire study here.)

You might be wondering: what is an influencer? According to this definition, an influencer is “an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his/her audience.” As well, “an individual who has a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with. The size of the following depends on the size of the niche.”

We’ve all probably seen an influencer before. If you’ve been on Instagram, you probably follow at least one or you spot them in your Explore feed frequently. They are quasi-celebrities with huge followings that get paid by brands, sometimes, to promote products. That’s influencer marketing. Let’s look at a definition though:

“Influencer marketing is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market as a whole. It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.” (from Wikipedia)

Influencer marketing has become big business in the last few years. If you are a B2C business, then you might want to consider using influencer marketing to get more consumers to either follow your brand on social media or purchase your product.

However, we wanted to take a look at influencer marketing and talk about what we can learn about consumer behavior from it. Let’s get started.

1. Reviews matter.

As we wrote last week, reviews are important for a lot of reasons. But influencer marketing is nothing more than a single individual reviewing products for the benefit of an audience. Ultimately, consumers trust those reviews. So as much as we as business owners would like to control the narrative, and cut out any reviews we deem bad, it’s important that consumers are allowed to have their voice heard—because, ultimately, consumers want to hear those voices.

2. Consumers value honesty.

When it comes to influencer marketing, there are strict rules about paid partnerships. Being paid to write a post or review a product, or even just receiving a product for free, has to be disclosed under FTC guidelines. And it has to be disclosed upfront so it is easy for readers to see. This means that if an influencer posts a paid promotion, all of their followers know immediately that they were paid to post it. And while that might be a turn off for some consumers, most will tell you that they prefer it. If they don’t want to engage with paid content, they won’t—but they appreciate knowing.

What can this tell us? Consumers want honesty when it comes to marketing. They want to know when they are being sold to and when they aren’t. This can help us, as marketers, better create content to both engage and sell to consumers.

3. Word-of-mouth is still important.

In the age of digital ads, it’s easy to think that word-of-mouth is dead. But what is influencer marketing if just word-of-mouth that has grown and expanded into the age of social media? Influencers feel like friends—they aren’t celebrities, although they may live lavish lifestyles, and they are more accessible than a celebrity—so when they recommend a product, consumers are more likely to buy it.

What does this mean? Word-of-mouth lives, even if we don’t hear about it as much. That means good customer service is still important.
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