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Why Do We Follow Social Media Influencers?

Why Do We Follow Social Media Influencers?

REDEFINING SOCIAL MEDIA

The rise of influencer marketing has been meteoric, transforming how brands connect with consumers. But why exactly do we follow influencers and trust their recommendations?

We’ve delved into how influencers establish authenticity, provide perceived value, foster a sense of belonging, and leverage their physical and charismatic appeal to influence our purchasing decisions and even shape our beliefs.

 

Go back twenty years and the notion of ‘Influencer Marketing’ was unheard of. Fast forward to today and the industry has become a powerhouse, commanding the attention of major brands and media outlets alike.

According to a social media report by Mintel, 47% of those who follow social media personalities in the UK have made a purchase based on an influencer’s recommendation, whilst in the same breath, 42% of those surveyed said that they have also felt misled about products they see influencers promoting online.

Not only do social media influencers have an effect on our buying behaviours, but they often impact our beliefs and opinions too. From fashion, fitness and lifestyle, to beauty and travel, these public figures have mastered how to use a loyal following to gain sponsorship deals, establishing themselves as respected  ambassadors for big name brands and products.

But what drives the general public to hit follow and ultimately fuel an influencer’s career and success?

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Authenticity: 

When influencers share their experiences with products or services, it’s not just about endorsement, it’s also about relatability. 

Influencers using these products in their everyday lives while documenting their experiences resonates with audiences. According to a report by Social Star, over 70% of Gen Z consumers say that they trust an influencer’s opinions just as much as they would if they were their personal friend. 

And so, online personalities who share their honest real-life experiences with a product or service are more likely to be seen as ‘credible’ and maintain a strong follower-influencer relationship in the long run. They are perceived as a “trusted friend”, and their recommendations weigh more heavily than a traditional product endorsement ad, which is mostly seen as a faceless brand! 

Influencers often cultivate this strong relationship with their community by interacting with individual followers through direct messages and reactions, providing reassurance and guidance in purchase decisions. This strengthens the bond of loyalty as followers feel acknowledged, heard and valued.

Perceived Value:

Think about it; when you see your favourite influencer raving about a particular product or service, you’re more inclined to believe that it’s worth your time and money. 

This perceived value goes beyond the product features; it is also a result of the emotional connection and sense of fulfilment that consumers associate with being recommended a product by someone they idolise. 

When consumers see influencers authentically using and recommending the same products consistently, they not only perceive the product itself as desirable, but the relationship and rapport with the influencer themselves. This perception stems from the trust and credibility established by the influencer, combined with the image they portray around the endorsed brands.

As a result, consumers perceive these offerings as valuable, making them more inclined to invest in them. 

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A Sense of Belonging: 

As human beings, we have an instinct to form social connections, yet this can often be challenging in the physical world for a lot of people. Many of us turn to online platforms to fulfil this need. 

Participating in an online community that shares our interests and values not only offers entertainment and a means to communicate with others, but a sense of social belonging. Following influencers allows us to discover communities of like-minded individuals whose content resonates with us.

The increasing popularity of platforms like Instagram and TikTok has made accessing these online communities easier than ever, allowing connectivity to our favourite influencers and like-minded fans. 

Physical and Charismatic Appeal: 

Individuals tend to gravitate more towards influencers whom they find attractive, often driven by a mix of admiration, and aspiration towards their appearance and lifestyle. Social media personalities with attractive content tend to wield remarkable influence over user engagement and product consumption.

We are naturally attracted to beautiful images and thrilling stories. We want to look at something and say: “I want that!”

However, this allure extends beyond mere physical attractiveness to encompass a fusion of charisma, style, and personal ethos. Hence, followers form a natural affinity with the online personalities they follow; seeking inspiration and advice from them and eventually mirroring their fashion preferences and lifestyle decisions.

In summary:

The strongest influencer-follower relationships  stem from relatable, genuine content. The most effective influencers don’t just stop at product endorsements, but instead go the extra mile by engaging with their target audience through demonstrations and honest reviews of products and services.

Their ability to incorporate endorsed products into their daily routines builds a sense of connection and trust between influencer and follower. This approach not only enhances the credibility of their recommendations but also maintains a deeper connection with their audience, who value the authenticity of their content.

This helps consumers see the product benefits clearly and feel that they are making more informed purchase decisions as they gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of the products being promoted. It’s like having a trusted friend give you the inside scope before you make a purchase — a valuable resource in today’s crowded marketplace.

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Ilham Oulrhazi

Ilham recently joined the influencer team at Kaizen after completing her Masters in Digital Marketing Management. She is a social media enthusiast, adept at matching talent for clients influencer campaigns, coordinating and communicating with influencers regularly for diverse projects to boost client’s brand awareness and drive traffic. Ilham is also responsible for running community management for clients social accounts, reviewing content calendar, scheduling posts and sourcing compelling content copy. She also contributes to the creation of pitches for prospective clients in tasks such as doing market research and competitive analysis.

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