When making a decision—especially a purchasing decision—often times we look to our peers for their opinion on the matter. Without even realizing it, we are depending largely on those individuals to influence us in our everyday lives … and it’s no surprise that marketers are catching on. Today, marketers are using “influencers” as part of their marketing strategies in both B2C and B2B markets. Before we discuss the power of influencer marketing, let’s first explain what is at its core, and the basics of why it works.
Here are some quick definitions to get us started:
- Influencer: an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of their (real or perceived) authority, knowledge, position, or relationship.
- Influence: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
Robert Cialdini, renowned expert of influencer psychology, explained in his research that there are six principles of persuasion that relate to influence: liking, social proof, authority, scarcity, consistency/commitment, and reciprocity—with the two core principles being social proof and authority. Think of social proof as the “everyone else is doing it” mentality, and authority as the “who’s the boss” mentality. If you can identify the right influencers for your target market and they can demonstrate any one of these six principles, you’re on your way to success.
So, how exactly are influencers discovered? In order to find the right influencer for a particular target audience, marketers must rate the potential influencer’s industry relevance, personality, and, in most cases, content generation (and quality) higher than popularity—although popularity still plays a large role.
We must also remember that influence is based on trust, so attempting to utilize a figure that claims to have a vast range of “specialties” with millions of followers may not be perceived as trustworthy or knowledgeable as a more specialized influencer with a large reach and focused agenda. A well-thought-out influencer marketing strategy must start with the industry. Ask yourself: Who are the industry experts who carry great weight in the community? Who do people go to for insight and advice? Research has found that amplifying your content through industry-specific influencers increases conversion by at least a 3x-10x higher rate, so this step is well worth your investment.
Brand authority is about expertise and recognition. Think of it this way: “People know who we are and what we do, and they know we do it well.” Not only are we looking to situate our company at the top of the food chain, but we are also looking to associate ourselves with the best experts and, in turn, the best customers. This is especially true in the B2B segment, where authority is the key to growing followers.
What can be gained from influencer marketing? The brands and companies that are already leveraging the power of word-of-mouth through personalities that are followed and respected are, in turn, finding that the right people are talking about and engaging with their brands. With influencer marketing, your content is being shared, your message is being heard, and your products are being used. Forrester reported that in 80% of all B2C and B2B purchases, there is some form of word-of-mouth recommendation involved during the purchasing cycle. And, even more so, McKinsey found that “marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word-of-mouth”—aka influencer marketing—generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising. Influencer marketing takes a brand out of the business realm, and directly inserts it into the everyday lives of consumers. Brands are no longer talking at consumers, they are talking with them.
If you’re ready to amplify your brand awareness and authority through influencer marketing, reach out to our PR and social media team to learn more about best practices and execution.