What is it about influencer marketing that’s so attractive to an audience? There are several factors at play. Consumers are tired of traditional advertising, they want to fit in, and they trust the advice of those they follow. We’re diving into the psychology of influencer marketing.
IZEA’s Trust in Influencer Marketing report shows 62% of social media users trust an influencer over an A-list celebrity. Why? Influencers are authentic. They’re everyday people who have a presence in your life.
When you dig a little deeper, there are specific psychological reasons for marketers to rely on influencer marketing. In 2022, brands will rely on influencer marketing quite a bit — to the tune of $6.16 billion in 2023, according to Insider Intelligence. Needless to say, it pays to understand how consumers perceive influencers psychologically.
The psychology of influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is alluring to consumers because it plays into many social norms. From building relationships to craving acceptance, here’s a look at psychological forces that make influencer marketing so effective:
Credibility is earned quickly
Influencers focus on a specific niche, like fashion, makeup, or travel. As content creators share pictures and videos, they prove their expertise and fuel what psychologists call perceived power.
A display of knowledge, combined with many followers, lends credibility, or power, to the influencer. Influencers with larger audiences are almost instantly deemed credible. After all, the influencer must be credible if millions of people follow him or her, right?
Frequent exposure builds trust
As influencers share content, followers see it and interact with it. Over a period of time, the influencer becomes a consistent presence. Every picture, video, and live stream builds a relationship with the viewer, which, over time, turns into trust.
Most of the content an influencer shares isn’t sponsored, so when an ad slides into the feed, followers aren’t bothered by it because they’ve earned trust.
Influencers are relatable
In the psychology world, there’s a sliding scale of relatability known as social proximity. If a person feels relatable and approachable, they have closer social proximity than someone who feels out of reach.
A beauty influencer who’s a stay-at-home-mom, for example, has closer social proximity to followers than Bobbi Brown, one of the biggest names in the cosmetic industry.
People crave relatability, which is why influencers are often preferred to celebs.
Followers crave social proof and validation
People want to fit in. As a result, they copy the actions of others, which is known as social proof. When a fashion influencer shares a trendy new look, or a travel influencer shows off a new luxury hotel, followers want to mimic their behavior. In a sense, the term followers is wildly accurate because many will follow the suggestions of trusted influencers.
A consumer who copies an influencer often feels confident in their decision to wear the trendy outfit or book a weekend in the hotel. Since consumers trust influencers, their conformity is seen as a positive choice validated by someone in the know.
Consumers tend to trust those who are good looking
Have you heard of attractiveness bias? People trust someone good-looking; that’s attractiveness bias. Psychologists say those positive feelings are transferable. When a follower has an attractive bias towards an influencer, those trusting vibes can rub off on a brand or product that the influencer mentions.
Consumers are in control
Consumers choose to follow influencers. Since consumers make a choice themselves, as opposed to being subjected to advertising, they aren’t bothered by a sponsored ad for a new tech gadget or the latest energy drink. Followers welcome it. They want to see what influencers are doing and what products they like; otherwise, they wouldn’t have followed them in the first place.
Does the psychology of celebrity endorsements work the same way?
In many ways, the psychology behind celebrity endorsements is the same. People see celebrities as role models and often trust the brand or product they rep. However, many celebrities lack a relatability factor. Without authenticity, the psychological power behind celebrity endorsements is diminished.
What’s the most influential psychological factor that marketers should focus on?
Marketers should focus on finding the right influencer to work with. If you find a credible influencer with an engaged audience who’s seen as a mover-and-shaker in their niche — the psychology of the campaign will take care of itself.
Of course, it’s not always easy to find influencers, but IZEA can help. The Creator Marketplace® contains thousands of listings from creators in all niches who want to work with brands.