Expert Insights: How Influencer Marketing Drives Engagement

By Kevin Kirby
Influencer marketing is often equated towards the glitz and glamour of celebrity lifestyles, but authenticity is increasingly where the actual power of influencer marketing rests.
Holidays and lifestyles that are out of reach are not appealing to consumers. They want to follow actual individuals who are like them in terms of beliefs and interests and who provide interesting and relevant material that speaks to them. As a result, personally relevant authentic material is gaining prominence and increasingly affecting how consumers purchase online.
Micro and nano influencers offer an authentic insight into their lives, which products they use, and how they make their buying decisions. And their opinions matter most to social media users.
Studies show that Gen Zs are almost as likely to follow influencers as brands, followed closely by millennials, but those influencers are role models rather than celebrities; they have a wide range of hobbies, including volunteering, photography, DIY projects, nature, and personal wellbeing. They share their experiences, advice, and insights with their followers and are people that like expanding their knowledge, pushing themselves, and giving back to their communities. In other words, they are moulding today's customers as micro- and nano-influencers.
The research also shows that fans genuinely desire more unadulterated, uncensored material. Glam backgrounds no longer matter in a post-pandemic society; genuine people do. On our own platforms, we have observed the similar change in customer and social media behaviour. Influencers are engaging their audience more deeply when they admit their personal frustrations and are honest about their emotions, difficulties, and passions.
The Value In Being Authentic
Authenticity boasts a number of advantages, the antithesis of authenticity is a model eating a fast-food burger; very few, if any, of her fans would think that she usually orders in for lunch. On the other hand, a mother's account of her interactions with a novel type of baby food is really genuine. Content is important because trust, not the amount of followers someone has on Facebook or Instagram, is what drives marketing at its heart.
Additionally, there has been criticism against prominent personalities who have failed to acknowledge the isolation and loneliness caused by the epidemic. For instance, in January, a number of British influencers and reality TV personalities shared photos of themselves taking a lavish vacation in Dubai as the rest of the UK entered into lockdown and hospital admissions and mortality rates skyrocketed.
The influencers found themselves trending for all the wrong reasons as a consequence of the sudden and intense response. Many of the celebrities lost thousands of followers. The message was solid: influencers will always have a special place in our hearts, but there are significant signs that consumers are becoming more attracted to different kinds of influencers.
Connecting Consumers and Influencers
What does this mean for companies and e-commerce brands? While it’s worth noting that search engines (34%) and Tv ads (33%) tend to be the most popular ways to find brands, ads on social media platforms are catching up. According to the GWI poll, almost 27% of internet users said they use social networking sites to locate things to buy. In Nigeria (72%), and Kenya (73%), it’s notably higher. As long as it is authentic and in line with users' ideals, advertising material is now anticipated and perhaps even welcomed on social media.
Before, consumers would use Google to research products, but research is intent-driven. You are looking for something specific, discovery is different, and that’s why Instagram, Pinterest, and Etsy are growing daily. Scrolling through images with hardly any text input is how consumers are finding exciting new brands to connect with. Scrolling online is impulsive and emotional, and it centres on who people follow and who they engage with. And this is where influencers come in, because the authenticity of a micro or nano influencer offering unfiltered insights and purchasing preference, is what the average person is after.
Brands need people to tell stories for them.
Research vs Shopping
Social networking has been a viable approach for e-commerce companies, especially smaller, independent ones, to reach customers for more than a decade. Early on, some companies realized that authenticity was the way to go. Local baby carrier company Ubuntu Baba, for example, solely featured actual parents and Ubuntu Baba customers in its social media postings and advertisements. Genuine postings don't only advertise a brand or service. They frequently inform and demonstrate to prospective buyers how a product might seem on their bodies or in their lives.
A Twitter study shows how much influencers have on customer behaviour: 40% of people acknowledged having purchased something from an online retailer after seeing an influencer using it on Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube, and 49% stated they relied on influencer recommendations when making buying decisions.
Online research has moved from googling a product and looking for Hello Peter reviews. Instead almost half of all internet users rather do brand and product research on social media channels, and this is where technology is a game changer. Instagram’s shopping feature enables businesses to add product tags in their posts, and this allows buyers to click on the picture displayed and instantly see the price, size, fabric, types, etc. any information needed at a single click. Products can also be ordered directly on Instagram, and as e-commerce grows, influencers have become more important.
Influencers and e-commerce
Influencers drive traffic by using hashtags. They share their personal and authentic experiences that win their audience’s trust, and they make use of promotion codes to boost sales. A lot of online shopping is the result of impulse buys, and makes influencers even more critical. It is critical for brands to engage influencers, build relationships, and allow those influencers to be authentic in their engagement with their audience and followers.
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Kevin Kirby
Kevin is a seasoned marketing and advertising practitioner with more than 30 years of experience as both media owner and client. He is embedded in the Nfinity Group of Companies which houses SA’s largest influencer marketing group where he performs various support functions.