It seems consumers are increasingly looking toward thought leaders and their fellow consumers to help them make informed decisions on whether they purchase a product or use a service.
There’s no doubt that trust has gradually shifted over the past few years. The rise in strength of social media, and the value of the individual has contributed most to this. But this has also been coupled with some wider breakdowns with previously trusted institutions. Banking crises and national and international political scandals have only illuminated a gradual shift in trust. The voice of the individual has never been so strong. Global opinions and viewpoints are heard every second, and users make their own allegiances, develop their own opinions and make their own decisions via Social Media.
Instead of looking at companies/brands, as they did in the past, users now look at each other and at their favourite personalities. ‘Influencers’ are consolidating massive followings on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and other platforms. And its perhaps now more than ever that influencer marketing holds the biggest foothold within digital marketing. It opens up a new channel for brands to connect with consumers more directly, under the veil of an influencer portraying that companies’ targeted image, more organically, and at a huge scale. By creating branded content with social media influencers, brands can amplify their message while seducing their target audience. But why has it become so influential?
Don’t underestimate power
The irony of the digital age is that word of mouth is still a vital characteristic of sales and marketing. McKinsey and Company estimate that consumer to consumer communication is behind roughly 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. “Consumers have always valued opinions expressed directly to them. Marketers may spend millions of dollars on elaborately conceived advertising campaigns, yet often what really makes up a consumer’s mind is not only simple but also free: a word-of-mouth recommendation from a trusted source. As consumers overwhelmed by product choices tune out the ever-growing barrage of traditional marketing, word of mouth cuts through the noise quickly and effectively.” Continue Reading. By artificially influencing target audiences with trusted voices and personalities, brands are effectively able to leverage greater power.
Social media itself is immediate, influential and can’t be ignored. The once traditional model of approaching and advertising to a consumer has been turned on its head. Learning from other consumers is more of a trusted way to gain knowledge of a product or service and in turn gain greater trust of a brand. The more organic the conversation seems, the more trust is gained – and essentially the better results gained. The notion of brands selling directly to a consumer is unattractive. To gain more traction, brands are to engage by entertaining and informing.
A look at Google Trends illustrates the burgeoning growth of the notion itself. Search volume and interest has grown exponentially over the last year or so.
Native and organic
The consumer experience receives no disruptive interruption with influencer marketing. In contrast to traditional advertising or paid ads, native advertising places brands and products within the organic content. This creates a more pleasurable experience for consumers and provides a more powerful marketing solution for brands. Research highlighted by MDG Advertising, indicates that “70 percent of internet users want to learn about a product through content rather than through traditional advertising.”
Search engine rankings are naturally bolstered by influencer marketing. If you strip it down to its bare bones, influencer marketing is simply user generated content. The more people mention your brand on social media, the more popular and relevant you will be on Google.