There’s a key way to keep Gen Zers and younger millennials watching: use influencers.
As per the latest survey of Influencer Marketing Hub, there has been a 325 percent increase in searches for the phrase “influencer marketing” on Google alone over the last 12 months.
It clearly is a hot topic. The survey shows this is leading to more people wanting to educate themselves about influencer marketing, as well as finding influencer marketing platforms and agencies.
But from a consumer’s perspective, how are these so-called “influencers” really influence us?
Defining influencer marketing
An influencer is someone:
• With 10,000+ followers
• Brands engage with to help promote their products/services/messages
• Who shares information about products they love
• Who is an expert in their field
Social media influencer sounds like a fake job, right? Surprisingly, it turns out this is one of the hottest jobs right now, thanks to the rise of the medium.
Regardless of age, we spend a lot of time on social media. We keep up with our friends and family. We use it to follow our favourite brands. The same way we see thousand of strangers, we are also exposed to hundreds of products and images each and every day.
Influencer marketing has been the buzzword of 2018, practiced everywhere from Snapchat to Instagram and even Facebook. They are not necessarily celebrities, but they have enough reach to influence their intended audience and fans.
Companies focus on using key influencers to drive a brand message. With that strategy, a brand works to inspire or hire and they pay influencers to get the word out. They find ways to become voices for these brands.
In the end, it results in awareness, enhanced perception and, ultimately, action.
The biggest platform for influencer marketing can be found on Instagram. Last year saw a whopping 12.9 million brand-sponsored influencer posts. And that number is estimated to double in 2018, creating an estimated market size of nearly $1.7 billion.
What makes them influential?
What makes them so attractive for online marketers? What makes their opinion so powerful?
In an article by Jelle Fastenau entitled ‘Under the Influence: The Power of Social Media Influencers’ on medium.com, he said, “It’s no secret that consumer behaviour is closely related to cognitive biases. In order to explain its effectiveness, we can find all our answers in the field of psychology. Because when it comes down to it, basing one’s behaviour on that of another is nothing new.
He added, studies have shown that the credibility of a peer endorser depends on the factors of trustworthiness, expertise, attractiveness, and similarity. Taking the first two into account, we can note that the degree of influence a person possesses depends on his degree of perceived power.
This authoritative position is further strengthened by a game of sheer numbers: a large number of followers, shares, and likes will provide viewers with a form of social proof. The notion that others value the opinion of an influencer, and adhere to their judgments, assures viewers that doing so is okay.
If the majority is doing something, they must be right.
Influencers are people, too
One of Philippines’ most followed online personality, Isabelle Daza, talked about how social media can play a role in developing anxiety and depression. Talking from the influencers perspective she said, “Social media generates jealousy.”
“It generates ‘I am not good enough’, ‘I am not as pretty’, ‘I am not as thin’, ’I am not traveling as much’. You have this anxiety that ‘I need to be relevant. I need to be talked about. I need to post something today. Otherwise people will forget me. I won’t have a career’.”
On the emotional side, it shows influencers are people, too. Yes, they can be most of the time annoying but insightful at the same time. Some, if not all, contribute to the society, making their advocacies and practices known to their followers.
These influencers are taking our time and our raw judgment. Whether they appear to be somebody they’re not or they do things they’re paid to do – it’s up to us how we are letting them affect our choices.
And as influencers, they are responsible for the kind of influence they’re sharing. At the end of the day, they’re just normal people and they can be misleading, too.
Paid or not, they’re called influencers for a reason.