Who Listens To Social Influencers? [Research]
Nov 30, 2018

Who Listens To Social Influencers? [Research]

The increased use of social influencers in marketing has only steadily grown and become more popular as audiences have become more and more niche. After identification, certain subsets of people are very accessible through popular influencers in their space, making social influencers a valuable tool for marketers everywhere. The thing is, where and how should influencers be utilized? To answer this question it is important to get an idea of what the real trends are in influencer marketing.

Global Web Index published an interesting chart that lays out a few data points for how men and women respond to social influencers. 1,581 internet users in the UK and 1,215 internet users in the US all between the ages of 16 and 64 who follow social influencers were surveyed. Some interesting data points arose that may expel some preconceived notions people might have about social influencers and their impact.

Amongst males, it was found that 72% strongly or somewhat agreed that they seek out expert opinions before purchase. For females, that number nestled in at 61%. So on both sides of the aisle, it seems more than half of men and women look to seek expert advice or opinion before spending their money. This number at surface value doesn’t really seem surprising, it makes sense that people feel inclined to seek out expert advice on products before spending their hard earned money.

Strongly Or Somewhat Agreed That they Seek Out Expert Opinions Before Purchase

%

Males

%

Females

When asked if influencers affect their purchase decisions, 41% of men agreed that influencers do affect their purchase decisions and only 30% of women agreed the same. When asked if they relate to influencers’ opinions more than product experts, 43% of men agreed and only 29% of women agreed.

Strongly Or Somewhat Agree That Influencers Affect Their Purchase Decisions

%

Males

%

Females

Strongly Or Somewhat Agree That They Relate To Influencers’ Opinions More Than Product Experts

%

Males

%

Females

When we look at these questions and data points together I think a clearer and more informative picture starts to crystalize. First off, even though both men and women seem to value expert opinions more than influencer opinions, when it comes to influencers actual influence over their audiences, it is men who are more likely to have their decisions affected by these influencers. I think before looking at these data points one might be inclined to think women are more heavily influenced by social influencers just based on common misconceptions about social media.

A quick anecdotal side note, just before writing this I actually purchased a product from an online retailer after I heard about them from a podcast that I regularly listen to. The irony of it dawned on me as I began writing this and realizing that I myself fall in to the 41% of males who say that influencers affect their purchase decisions. Many of us participate in indulging influencer content and it may have an affect on us without even realizing it.

Are Influencers Actually Experts?

Back in to the data though. So maybe influencers don’t affect people as strongly as one might have thought before seeing this. For women and men the percentage of people who value influencer opinions is less than half. So wait, is using social influencers to market products a waste of time?

The answer is no, I don’t think it is a waste of time if done thoughtfully. Marketers just need to use social influencers the right way or find the right social influencers. Could it be possible to find social influencers that are also experts in their space? With many niches, the reason someone has become a social influencer in the first place is because they have a certain level of expertise. Cream rises to the top. It also has to do with customer perception and how they perceive experts and influencers. What makes someone an expert to a consumer? Is it their age, their work experience, the quality of their content, or a little bit of all of that?

These are some valuable questions to ask as a marketer or business looking to advertise their product or service. When deciding which social influencers you would like to utilize for your marketing you should consider who the audience for your product is and find the social influencers that best appeal to those audiences. Once you identify influencers in the proper space you should next identify which ones are most reputable and perceived as knowledgeable by their audiences.

This presents another question though! Is it necessary for the influencer to be an expert in the product or service you are selling? What if the product you are selling is different than that influencers field of expertise? For example, one of the data points shows that 47% of males follow the sports and outdoors category. If a shaving product is advertised through a social influencer in sports and outdoors who is perceived as an expert in sports writing or sports knowledge, will that be just as good or better than having a shaving expert advertise the product? Does the area of expertise matter or is just about trust?

The other top categories followed by males is 43% food and 38% gaming. The top categories for females are 54% beauty, 48% fashion, and 47% food. In my opinion as a marketer, I think the core answer to the question relies on trust. If someone is viewed as an expert in their field then that means there is a certain level of trust that has been established. So long as the product somewhat pertains to the demographic that influencer predominantly operates in I believe you will see success. So a sports podcaster may be more impactful advertising men’s shaving kits than a female fashion Youtuber. A female fashion Youtuber will more successful advertising jewelry or fashion accessories than a Twitch TV gaming channel.

Influencer marketing can be, and is, a very valuable tool. If you are going to decide to take the influencer marketing path, or any path for that matter, you should make sure to be thoughtful about everything and do your due diligence to make sure you are getting the most value that you can out of your marketing!

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