It’s nearly impossible to scroll through social media without seeing an influencer promoting a product or service. This is beyond explicit promotions of beauty products or fancy athleticwear we’re often bombarded with, but the subtle influencers who don’t make you feel like just another ad target. They seem to be the ones who are most successful.
As humans, subconsciously or not, we value the opinions of others. Therefore, watching another someone whom we feel we can best relate to test or compliment a brand is incredibly appealing, So why are influencers so effective? According to Forbes, the psychology behind influencer marketing underpins why it works so well. Let’s start with cultural conformity.
A study confirmed how people who live in a collectivist culture, rather than individual culture, place a higher value on the goal of a group and are motivated by maintaining peace in their interpersonal relationships. This in part explains why people become so engaged with influencers’ content – we are culturally programmed to care.
Closely linked to this is the role of informational social influence which is based on the idea that humans change their opinions when we conform to people who we believe have accurate information. Influencer marketing taps into this phenomenon by positioning experts within specific verticals, triggering feelings of trust. If you are following an influencer based on trust, your behavior and opinions are likely to change to conform with theirs.
Finally, as humans, we like to help others to make us feel good about ourselves – just as seeing someone in need ignites an emotional response. We can feel an emotional connection with the influencers we follow, despite not necessarily ever meeting them.
Para-social relationships refer to one-sided emotional connections people form with media personalities, such as influencers, through their repeated exposure on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok. These relationships can be incredibly powerful because they allow individuals to connect with someone they admire or aspirational figure, which can impact their thoughts, feelings, and even behaviors. In addition, influencers often have a large following, giving them the ability to sway public opinion and drive consumer decisions on products, services, or political issues. This power dynamic between influencer and follower highlights the significant impact that para-social relationships can have in shaping individual and collective attitudes and beliefs.
Overcoming the challenges of influencer marketing requires a strategic approach that prioritizes transparency, authenticity, and relationship-building. To ensure transparency, brands should clearly communicate their intentions and compensation to influencers, and influencers should disclose any sponsored content to their followers. This builds trust with the audience and protects the credibility of the influencer and the brand.
Additionally, it’s important to find influencers who are a good fit for your brand, align with your values, and have a following that aligns with your target market. By working with influencers who genuinely believe in your brand, you can develop a long-term, authentic partnership. Lastly, fostering a collaborative and supportive relationship with influencers can help ensure that your campaigns are successful and reach your desired outcomes.
It is clear that influencer marketing works. Not just because we enjoy the content, but because of real reactions hardwired in our brains. We will continue to see the influencer market grow exponentially – and I am not only looking forward to how our brains potentially adapt to seeing this content even more, but also how influencers will utilize this information.