Influencer-MarketingIntroduction

Last month, I dropped my phone and shattered its screen. To be honest, I had dropped my phone at least ten times before, before it finally gave away. Like millions of other people that are thinking about buying a new phone, I went online to do my research. I saw numerous videos, reviews, comparisons and narrowed down my selection.

The reason I began this article with the above story was to give you a brief idea of how wired we are to the idea of what influencers on social media say.

You have to buy a new car, check up on what the leading auto influencers are saying on social media platforms. The same goes for technological gadgets, travels and vacations, and even food!

The advent of digital platforms like search and social have brought upon the rise of ‘Influencers’ and how they are conditioning us into making purchase decisions.

In this article, we will look at how Influencer Marketing is driving digital transformations. We specifically try to analyze the same from the point of view of consumer behavior.

Influencer Marketing: Meaning and Definition

Influencer Marketing is a digital marketing strategy on social media platforms and search engines wherein an influencer endorses a product/service. This endorsement can be in the form of a product review, product placement, comparison, or in the form of long-term use.

With the rise of social media platforms, normal individuals that were not mega actors or sportsmen found a channel to offer advice and suggestions on their area of expertise.

In other words, social media gave them a platform for sharing their knowledge and expertise with wider audiences. If someone was well-traveled, he or she could guide someone on making travel plans, choosing hotels, and visiting destinations. He or she became a ‘Travel Influencer’.

Likewise, someone who was into gadgets and technology would share their views on what products you should buy. That person became a ‘Tech Influencer’.

How Influencers affect Consumer Purchase decisions Online?

In this section, we are going to look at three major ways, influencers are able to affect consumer purchase decisions online-

1. Relatability

Unlike movie stars and sportsmen that normal human beings cannot identify with, influencers are more like your average individual. This relatability quotient makes their suggestions feel far more real and authentic.

There is somehow the perception that what they are saying or doing is being done only for the purpose of helping their audiences. This is in stark contrast to movie stars or sportsmen that we know are getting paid millions to say something or use something of a brand on screen.

2. In-Depth Knowledge

It is true that influencers spend a lot of time reviewing a product. They analyze it in multiple ways, sometimes even going overboard with their research. This subject expertise helps shed critical light on the quality of the product, its good points along with its shortcomings.

This is far better in terms of an educational resource than the thirty-second advertisement of a movie star. While brands also take out their own ads, there can be question marks on what they say or claim. Influencers are looked at as a bipartisan voice in the market.

3. Engagement

The most successful influencers spend a lot of time engaging with their subscribers or followers. They take questions, answer in the comments section and hold Live Sessions regularly. This helps them answer what audiences are asking them.

According to the top Singapore influencers, brands today are moving towards ‘Micro-Influencers’, that have lesser followers but solid and engaged followings. This helps a brand amplify its sales and contribute to its branding in a major way.

Advantages of Influencer Marketing Strategies for Brands in 2021

Let us now look at some of the major advantages for brands that are looking to pursue influencer marketing in 2021-

1. Building Brand Awareness

In 2021, brands are still looking at Influencer Marketing not so much in terms of promoting sales, but as a way to build brand awareness. This is especially true of newer companies and brands that are looking to put the word out. Bigger and more established brands might still look at a sales and revenue generation angle from influencer marketing in 2021.

2. Build Customer Relationships

According to leading experts, it is best to think of influencers as ‘Liaison Officers’ between a brand and its target audiences. It is through an influencer that a brand can hope to strike meaningful conversations with its prospective target audiences. This is very often seen when brands orchestrate and engineer viral marketing campaigns by taking help from influencers.

3. Create an Authentic Brand

As someone that has been in this industry for the last ten years, I can tell you that there are really two kinds of brands. One, that is all about the image, put out strict guidelines to the influencers, and control every word they say (it cannot be honest or negative). Two, brands that just hand over the product and give the influencer a free hand.

The Future of Influencer Marketing in 2021

The Coronavirus Pandemic has accelerated digital adoption in different parts of the world. With this, brands are looking to engage with influencers in newer and different ways. Long-term engagements and not campaign based associations are being pursued.

In addition to longer engagement, brands are also turning towards micro-influencers (less than 10K followers). This is because many controversies surrounding bigger influencers buying followers and engagement have erupted and proven.

There is no doubt that Influencer Marketing is changing and evolving. Newer social platforms like TikTok are rapidly spreading and becoming highly popular. Brands have newer options, both in terms of influencers as well as in terms of social media platforms.

The Final Word

Everything we do has somehow or the other become conditioned to digital platforms. From searching for medicines to picking out a gift for our partners, influencers are at every step of the way to help you out on platforms from Instagram to YouTube.

There are numerous ways and means by which brands can now measure the ROIs on their influencer marketing strategy. Love it or hate it, influencer marketing is redefining consumer purchase behavior unlike ever before.