Social Media Influencers and Their Impact on Consumer Behavior

Social media influencer marketing is still a relatively new trend, but it’s quickly becoming a go-to tactic for marketers seeking the attention of a generation of distracted, advertising-adverse consumers. For decades, marketers have used catchy slogans, graphics, and celebrity endorsers to get their audience to focus on their message. But today, traditional media channels are in decline and consumers are getting used to entertainment without interruption. Therefore, brands need reach their audience in more subtle and cost-effective ways. Enter, the social media influencer.

Generally speaking, influencers are social media users who enjoy substantial popularity on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter. Many of these influencers are celebrities like actors, musicians, or athletes. Celebrities are frequently used in advertising because they are great at capturing consumer attention. In a world where it’s getting easier to avoid advertising altogether, that’s a difficult task! However, creating an advertising campaign with a popular celebrity is an expensive and time-consuming process.

Why use influencers?

Influencer marketing can achieve the same goal of consumer attention, but in a much simpler way. Instead of hiring photographers, creatives, and a media team, brands let the influencer create content and distribute it to their thousands or millions of followers. This strategy is not only cheaper and more efficient, it also has greater potential to impact consumer opinions because the audience has opted into following an influencer and likely cares about what they have to say.

By sharing aspects of their everyday lives on their social media profiles, these celebrities make their fans feel more connected to them than ever before. This also makes them more susceptible to subtle brand messages intertwined between personal posts about what the influencer ate for lunch or what they did on their vacation.

The new celebrity influencers

While many of the most popular social media influencer accounts are owned by traditional celebrities, social media has also given rise to another subset of influencers that are a lot more like your average Joe. The ‘social media celebrity’ is a new breed of public figure that starts off as an ordinary social media user.  Through sharing interesting, original content, hey manage to acquire a mass audience of followers and the attention of brands.

Many of these social media influencers exist within niche online communities, like travel, parenting, fitness, or fashion. Their opinion leader roles in online circles make them attractive for brands targeting a specific audience actively looking for information. These influencers are also pros at fostering meaningful, relationships with their followers that make them seem like friends. Brands can take advantage of these relationships by using influencers to spread positive word-of-mouth about their products on social media.

The Internet and social  media has caused drastic changes in the media landscape. This shift has challenged marketers to find new ways to reach their audience. Social media may be a distraction from traditional advertising channels, but it’s also an opportunity. Brands that learn how to harness the power of influencers and connect with online audiences will be able enhance their image and increase awareness more efficiently and cheaply than ever before.

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