The Power of Influencers. Quantified.

Analyst Reports
Influencer Marketing
Social Media Marketing

Why recommendations from experts carry more weight.

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For some time, marketers have suspected that certain opinions matter more than others when it comes to swaying consumer’s buying habits. Influence is far from a level playing field, but it isn’t necessarily for the reasons you might expect—fame, fortune and celebrity status. According to author Malcolm Gladwell, more influential individuals are known as mavens or “information brokers,” who have a wealth of knowledge and know how to share it. In other words, influence is about authenticity, access to information and the drive to empower others.

HOW MICRO-INFLUENCERS ARE MARKETING’S BIGGEST OPPORTUNITY

Savvy consumers often turn to these micro-influencers for advice when making decisions. With a growing distrust for brand-led messaging, they have no choice. Just take a look at this McKinsey report, which shows that two-thirds of touch points in the buying cycle now involve consumer-driven information like online reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family. You can also see this trend of consumers turning away from brand-led messaging with the recent growth in ad blocking. It is currently estimated that publishers lost out in $22 billion in 2015 due to ad blockers.

Micro-influencers may not have the flashy appeal of celebrities, but they have something even more valuable: their audience’s trust. But how much and to what extent, exactly? The answer to this question hasn’t been well studied or known.

Setting out to build this bridge, Experticity partnered with Jonah Berger, an industry-leading business professor and word-of-mouth marketing researcher from the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania and agency Keller Fay. The goal? To look at the impact of a conversation with an influencer as it relates to the final outcome in the mind of the buying consumer. And to better understand the role influencers play in consumers’ decision-making cycles and what companies might be missing when measuring influencers’ impact on their bottom lines.

Here’s what the research uncovered.

WHO ARE THESE MICRO-INFLUENCERS?

Keller Fay defines an influencer as a person who has greater-than-average reach or impact through word of mouth in a relevant marketplace. Influencer marketing, which is increasingly practiced in a commercial context, comprises a few main activities:

MORE ABOUT MICRO-INFLUENCERS…

Micro-influencers can be less visible than other influencers, but they have significant sway with others through their work or extracurricular activities. They’re retail associates who sell your products, industry professionals who use your products to do their job, and other passionate members of your industry’s community. And they’re everywhere. Many of these individuals join Experticity to learn about new products and brands.

Experticity challenged Berger and Keller Fay to find out. They ultimately designed a research framework and deployed a sample survey of 6,000 unpaid Experticity influencers and members of the general population to understand the role of brand advocacy and word-of-mouth education in consumers’ decision-making processes.

The research team asked Experticity members how often they gave buying recommendations and to whom. The team then asked the people who received the recommendations how credible and influential a given recommendation was, and if they had tried or bought the recommended product. The research team then replicated this process with the general population — in other words, non-Experticity members giving recommendations — and followed up with the people who received the recommendations to see how credible they found them and whether they had tried or bought the products.

MICRO-INFLUENCERS ARE AMPLIFICATION AGENTS

What makes micro-influencers unique is that they choose to learn about particular brands and products in-depth. They’re true believers in a product’s value. They’re also influencers who are having lots of conversations with everyday consumers – many right on the retail floor. It’s important to educate these influencers and empower them to learn about your products and communicate your brand’s value to target customers.

SO WHAT DOES THAT TREND MEAN, QUANTIFIED?

Berger and Keller Fay found that in just a single week, Experticity’s micro-influencers have 22.2x more buying conversations than typical consumers.

SO WHY IS THIS TREND IMPORTANT?

A buying conversion is not a single brand mention in a conversation, but rather an active recommendation to buy a specific product, brand or service. It’s a two-way dialogue with a shelf life that’s much longer than a brand mention on social media that only lasts a few minutes.

If this stat reflects a week of time, imagine the media channel a given influencer represents over the course of an entire year. And consider how many average consumers you would need to have spreading your brand message to represent the power of just one micro-influencer.

WHAT’S THE TAKEAWAY?

Start thinking about micro-influencers as an ongoing media channel. Don’t cut your influencers short by just measuring their one-off posts. Brands need to engage in continuous dialogue, build engaging content and empower their influencers as strategic partners and content contributors.

STRONGER RECOMMENDATIONS DRIVE TANGIBLE ROI.

So what results can a brand expect to have by empowering their micro-influencers through dedicated resources and engagement? Berger and Keller Fay set out to answer this question, too, by comparing micro-influencers in two groups: the general population and Experticity members, who have access to in-depth knowledge about brands and products.

Compared to the general population, Experticity Experts provide stronger recommendations that result in “go buy it or try it” moments. In fact, 74% of Experticity influencers have a conversation that results in someone following up on and seriously considering a product recommendation. That’s why 82% of those who receive a recommendation from an Experticity influencer are highly likely to follow the recommendation.

MICRO-INFLUENCE IS A PART OF THE JOB

Unlike consumers who tend to talk about their personal experiences with only close friends and family, Experticity micro-influencers amplify their voice to a wider network.

The reason? The motivations for experts to share information are usually different than those of the general population. In fact, 53% of expert influencers’ recommendations happen at work, compared to 19% of the general population’s recommendations.

“…unlike consumers who merely pass information from person to person, micro-influencers actively seek their own sources of information.”

Experts are also more likely to share information that’s related to their professional success. Consultants and community organizations become successful when their reputations begin to grow—meanwhile, retail sales associates, consultants, and similar professionals advance in their careers based on the quality of their customer interactions.

Think of your influencer strategy as analogous to broadcasting. You can influence a consumer who will talk to a friend, or you can influence an influencer who has a leadership role within an entire network. While both approaches are important for a successful marketing strategy, one is clearly more efficient, impactful, and education-oriented than the other.

PASSIONATE EXPERTS ARE CONSTANT LEARNERS

For micro-influencers, trust is the ultimate asset. That’s why members of this key audience are more likely to establish their own perspectives than source recommendations from friends and family. While 26% of the general population becomes aware of brands through friends and family, only 15% of micro-influencers find out about brands in this way. This stat suggests that unlike consumers who merely pass information from person to person, micro-influencers actively seek their own sources of information.

They’re seeking out products that they can experience for themselves. They’re conducting their own field research and learning about new products to use on the job. They’re relying on expertise from colleagues. So the bottom line is that brands need to reach these influencers on their terms through valuable learning resources.

THREE TRAITS FOR OPTIMAL MICRO-INFLUENCE

For micro-influencers, trust is the ultimate asset. That’s why members of this key audience are more likely to establish their own perspectives than source recommendations from friends and family. While 26% of the general population becomes aware of brands through friends and family, only 15% of micro-influencers find out about brands in this way. This stat suggests that unlike consumers who merely pass information from person to person, micro-influencers actively seek their own sources of information.

They’re seeking out products that they can experience for themselves. They’re conducting their own field research and learning about new products to use on the job. They’re relying on expertise from colleagues. So the bottom line is that brands need to reach these influencers on their terms through valuable learning resources.

METRICS DESIGNED FOR INFLUENCER MARKETING

The sooner you take action on building the pillars of your micro-influencer outreach strategy, the sooner you’ll see results. In getting started, you’ll want to focus on three areas for building out your program, driving ROI, and measuring results. Keep in mind that this is a unique marketing channel, so you’ll need to develop a custom set of metrics. It won’t be easy, but you can start by asking questions like these:

AT THE END OF THE DAY

At the end of the day, you’re building relationships at scale, and you can’t sacrifice quality for any of them. So before you engage with thousands of people on behalf of your brand, make sure that you have the foundation in place for a strong connection.

THE SOLUTION

Experticity is your solution. If one expert can make a sale, imagine what a whole network can do. Experticity allows you to do just that: build a network of influencers you can inspire, educate and engage with for years to come — while also quantifying the ROI of your strategy.

Learn More Today