When entrepreneurs and solopreneurs hear influencer marketing you think about having influencers market your product. There is far more to it than that.
They also understand that followers and likes do not mean interaction from real people. Matching influencers and businesses is a complex and expensive marketing system.
Influencers understand that they need sponsors, but to get sponsors they need to have a marketable product. That is the video clips and information they publish.
They also understand that the narrower their target demographic and the more interaction they have – the more sponsors they will attract. They need a strategy.
There have always been influencers. Digital influencer marketing is just the newest iteration of a well-established and highly successful marketing technique.
Influencer marketing lived in door-to-door salespeople, athlete sponsorships, movie & TV star sponsorships, and even in your high school click. We mimic those we admire.
The influencer uses the best parts of these prior models to break the conversion rate model. How? The success of the influencer model rests on the psychology of influencer marketing biases.
Influencer Marketing Bias: The 4 Basic Biases of the Success
The psychology of influencer marketing is broken into discrete tactics deployed by each influencer. They may not even know that the bias exists but they understand that something is working, and they shouldn’t stop.
Here are the psychological biases that form the basis for influencer marketing’s massive success.
Authority & Credibility: Halo Effect or Not Invented Here Bias
The most common tactic and the primary bias that drives digital influencer marketing is the authority or credibility that they are imbibed with due to their inherent mass following. Influencers may or may not have relevant credentials. Credentials don’t matter. Influencer followings create authority and credibility in them naturally.
So, when you see your favorite influencer or movie star wearing a specific brand, that image gives that brand credibility to the influencer or movie star if you are a brand looking to jump into a new market or even a new company, the easiest way to get instantaneous credibility is to have a famous person review the product or use it in a very public way.
The industry journal Marketing Intelligence & Planning published a study in 2019 titled Instafamous and Social Media Influencer Marketing that concluded:
“Consumers exposed to Instagram celebrity’s brand posts perceive the source to be more trustworthy, show a more positive attitude toward the endorsed brand, feel stronger social presence and feel more envious of the source than those consumers exposed to traditional celebrity’s brand posts.”
You, the consumer, instantly have a positive bias towards that product without knowing anything You, the consumer, instantly have a positive bias towards that product without knowing anything
about it. For example, if a foreign brand wants to distance itself from foreign troubles, it will partner with a local American brand.
Alternative Information: The Confirmation Bias
How often have you searched for reviews of a product only to buy the product you had initially wanted?
We love to find reviews that tell us that the products we love are the best. We also love to find reviews that tell us that the cheapest product is the best.
The need to learn “what is the best product to buy” is betrayed by our psychological bias to confirm our pre-existing beliefs.
The success of influencer marketing is based on the ease of access to thousands of influencers willing to tell us what we want to hear.
The best digital influencer marketing strategy will give helpful and unique information about a product while still conveying it in a way that feels familiar and comforting
Comfort in Conformity: The Bandwagon Bias
How often have you said, “well, since X is doing it, I’m sure it’s fine.” This is the bandwagon bias, which describes how a fad or viral moment grows in popularity because of the sheer number of others buying or doing that thing. It has nothing to do with the price, quality, effectiveness, or comfort of the item.
Buyers are comforted because they are now like the masses, not because they now have that “thing.” The bandwagon bias, groupthink, or herd mentality, can be identified when influencers say things like: “well, I just had to see what the fuss was all about, etc.”
Social Priming & Engagement: The Endowment Effect
Often it just starts with giving an influencer your email. Later they offer free trials and other free offers. You aren’t being tricked, but you are being trapped … by yourself.
How often have you wanted to wash that shirt and just worn it anyway? The effort to alter course, though better, is often avoided for the current situation because it is easier.
In this instance, the psychology of influencer marketing is to “prime” you with simple and easy asks until finally, you are physically holding their product for free. Your willingness to then pay for that product or service after the trial period ends is exponentially greater than your willingness to return it and choose something else.
You have an inherent bias towards keeping the status quo and even paying more not to have to find something better. Do you still have a subscription service you don’t want? Blame the endowment effect bias.
You will find at least a dozen ways the psychology of influencer marketing uses inherent human biases to grow brands successfully.
Some of these are cultural conformity, inherent beauty bias, personal connections, and corporate distancing.
Whichever way you spin it, digital influencer marketing has refined the prior influencer models to an art that will continue to generate millions.