We’re still in the early days of Instagram removing their total ‘likes’ counts on posts, and it’s safe to say that this major change hasn’t really impacted the way influencers communicate with their audiences too much at all. For most of us, this outcome was a surprise. We’ve been accustomed to seeing numeric values of approval on our social media feeds, and so digital marketing has always been about embracing numbers with open arms. But in the world of behaviour change marketing, results are best measured not through online engagement, but through changed behaviour or actions; in other words, concrete results. Here are a few key reasons why utilising influencers continues to generate ongoing audience engagement as well as real behaviour change.
The new ‘instant messenger’
Of the five pillars of behaviour change marketing, the idea of the ‘messenger’ is one that consistently stumps digital marketers. This is in part due to the fact that there are two factors to online marketing that can’t entirely be addressed through utilising data analytics: the reputability of sources, and ensuring that your content stays topical. When it comes to social media, staying topical is all about timely posting and using far-reaching hashtags. Alongside this, an established brand identity or personal identity online is the key to gaining reputability and thus, a large follower count. In lieu of establishing a slew of in-house pages and painstakingly establishing these sources as trustworthy, an organisation can effortlessly source influencers whose image is aligned with their organisational values, and borrow their reputability (and a fan base which would most likely comprise of your target audience) to project their own message. In essence, influencers have become the new ‘instant messengers’ of the digital marketing arena.
Trust and influence
In this era of ‘fake news’, echo chambers, photoshopped Coachella snaps, and generally growing distrust across most social media platforms, there’s been a growing number of influencers producing ‘Instagram versus reality’ content, or content that sheds light on the ridiculously high standards we set for ourselves when we post personal photos online. The fantastic thing about these snapshots of reality is that it introduces an added sense of authenticity to both big-name and more local micro-influencers alike.
Flaws are an unavoidable part of being human, and being able to embrace our flaws shows a level of strength which most of us are in pursuit of. This inherent presentation of self-love and self-confidence is what makes an influencer influential, and it’s the reason why one in three of us trust an influencer’s experiences with a brand over that brand’s own presentation of itself.
Ambassadors over sponsored posts
Human beings will generally look for any excuse not to listen to an advertisement. We are hyper-aware of bias, and so have grown distrustful towards even the slightest signs of bias online. For this reason, the word ‘sponsor’ is rapidly losing its force, and is being rightly replaced by the idea of the ‘brand ambassador’. Whilst a sponsor would be promoting a product primarily out of financial or contractual obligations, a brand ambassador would be promoting a product because they’ve used that product either professionally or recreationally, and genuinely endorse that product to their loyal followers.
When we’re feeling curious about a specific product, we go online to seek out testimonials from real people, and more often than not we find ourselves stumbling across influencer endorsements. These reputable endorsements act as a ‘trigger’ (the fifth pillar of behaviour change), inspiring your audience to follow in your influencer’s footsteps and seek out your products or services.
Online campaigns can be highly effective when you’re able to find the right influencers to project your message. It only takes a very brief scroll through Instagram for the efficacy of influencer outreach to speak for itself. And as for assessing their ability to incite behaviour changes, the only numbers you need to be paying attention to here are your sales targets.