Influencer Marketing Not A One-Size-Fits-All Channel

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According to HaveYouHeard Co-Founder and Head of Strategy, Ryan McFadyen, using influencers to build your brand’s credibility is very different from using influencers to create awareness for a new product launch. 

These are the two most important things marketers should remember about influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is not a one-size-fits-all channel. It succeeds in myriad ways for myriad reasons and, just as our personal relationships are complex and varied, so too are consumers’ relationships with influencers.

Some advertisers and their agencies use influencer marketing because they hope to Influence people. Yet, people and what influences them is much broader and more complex than the single-view answer influencer marketing provides, but that does not diminish the value of influencer marketing. 

It seems very important to me that, if we are using influencer marketing to influence people, should we not consider all the ways people are influenced? That makes sense to me, given that influencers are just one force within myriad often overlooked and misunderstood forces that shape what we feel, think, say and do.

There should be a broader view on influence, where the role of the influencer falls into one of five key spheres of how to influence how people think and purchase. These five spheres take account of what is influencing people’s thinking and behaviours.

1. Human Nature – how our biology and psychology influence our decisions

95% of our decisions are influenced by our sub-conscious. We are only aware of 5% of why we do what we do, meaning that we don’t make rational decisions and we don’t actually know what motivates our actions. Humans have patterns of behaviour governed by how we are wired. By knowing and understanding these, we are able to uncover why people do things and also predict how people will respond.

2. Others – how our peers, community and culture influence our decisions

This is where influencer marketing turns into influence marketing as people, peer pressure and the desire to belong and fit in drive the majority of our behaviour. Most of what we do is not based on what we really want, but rather on how it will impact the perceptions of the people we care about and want to be associated with. The cultures and communities we belong to influence the brands we use to showcase who we are. Celebrities and influencers have become social cues for what we should do (purchase) and who we should align with (look like) but our close community of friends and family still have a powerful influence on us (usually more so).

3. Environmental – the physical and environmental forces influencing our decisions

Our environment can either make it easier or harder for us to make a purchase, trigger a behaviour or reinforce a belief. Behaviour economics is the most fashionable current explanation for a part of this. This is an often neglected but crucial part of the influence model as the environmental factors are often where the purchase is made possible or impossible. 

4. Media – the attention absorbing forces influencing our decisions

The attention economy and media fragmentation are disrupting traditional media models. Our minds become what they pay attention to and our worldview, beliefs and internal drivers are shaped by what we focus on. Understanding what is informing this identifies what is influencing us and how we can augment this to shift influence in a different way.

5. The Zeitgeist of now – the forces shaping society and influencing our decisions

The culmination of the complex forces shaping society today are surreptitiously forming our beliefs and behaviours. By understanding both the macro forces and the local manifestations at play in the world today (and why), we are able to predict the evolving consumer and brand landscape.

Brands should develop a universal idea, led from a universal insight that can be implemented locally across each of the five spheres of influence. This approach results in bringing an insight-led idea to life by engaging consumers through their peers, influencers and communities within the culture of their passion, as well as feeding into the environments and spaces they find themselves in, through the media they absorb, along their consumer journey and at the point of purchase.

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