Can you imagine that 100 limited edition MINI Cooper, in value of about US$4.6 million, were sold by an influencer in just 4 minutes? If your business isn’t using content marketing, then you’re missing out one of the best ways to reach your target audience.
In the previous post, we discussed about Why Is Content Marketing So Important? Here’s What It Needs To Be.
Influencer marketing is the next level of content marketing.
“For the visionary marketer, the rise of the social media influencer creates a world of possibilities. It opens up a new channel for brands to connect with consumers more directly, more organically, and at scale.”
To put it simple,
Content marketing is the content your company creates and distributes to your audiences. Influencer marketing is driven largely by external social media persona.
You can boost your content marketing efforts by engaging influencers.
People trust people rather than brands, and value the opinions of like-minded strangers as much as people they know, such as celebrities and social media influencers, and brands should learn to leverage that trust by hiring influencers to amplify their messages.
In China, influencer marketing is also becoming a powerful marketing tool for brand communications and sales conversion nowadays. Influencers have a large and established audiences, who are following, actively engaged in, and having a high level of trust. Influencers are thereby considered as a source of traffic or so-called “an internet traffic entrance” – more traffic means better chance of sales conversion.
Influencers as the Entrance of Internet Flow
Is it true that the value of influencers is just to drive “traffic”?
Let’s see an interesting example first:
Chinese Influencer, Becky Li (#黎贝卡的异想世界) has about five million followers across social media accounts. Let’s say we hire her to sell 100 Mini Coopers, how long do you think she needs to achieve RMB30 million sales (about $4.6 million)?
One week? One month? Considering car purchase as a high involvement buying behavior, you might think that it is reasonable to spend longer time.
But the realty is that….
“100 limited edition MINI Cooper, in value of about US$4.6 million, sold by Becky Li on her WeChat account in just 4 minutes.”
And yet there are many similar cases happening in China:
“Influencer Wenyi (#文怡家常菜) sold 15000 pieces of cutting boards on her Wechat account in just 10 minutes and achieved $3.4 million sales, more than Asia’s total annual sales of this brand.”
Is it true that their magical ability to sell is purely because of the traffic they can bring?
The fact is that traffic can never guarantee high rate of sales conversion.
If we evaluate its value by traditional performance index like clicked traffic or cost-per-clicks (#CPC), we might underestimate the power of influencer marketing.
Psychological Factors At Play
So what drives people to follow and response to one influencer? Research indicates there are certain psychological factors at play.
Psychology is actually very crucial to effective marketing. After all, psychology is about understanding human behavior and marketing is about applying that knowledge.
Understanding why people follow certain influencers, or why people retweet and share tweets from influencers, helps us better understand how to develop more effective content strategies.
There are many psychological factors that influencers use to change human decision-making process, and the most powerful one is priming – the power that changes consumer behavior in a subconscious way.
True Value of Influencers is the Power of Priming
First, let’s see what #priming means. Wikipedia offers the following definition:
“Priming is a technique whereby exposure to one stimulus influences a response to a subsequent stimulus, without conscious guidance or intention.
In other words, priming is when exposure to something influences the behavior of a person later on, without that person being aware that the first thing is actually guiding behavior to a certain extent.
Subconscious mind can influence subsequent behavior.
For instance, if you are given a list of words randomly including the word ‘soup’ and you are asked later to complete a word starting with ‘so’, the probability that you will answer “soup” is higher than if you weren’t primed.
This happens because “soap” is already primed in memory.
Unlike direct selling, priming is an implicit way of persuasion that changes subliminal mind. In marketing application, priming is especially powerful to trigger impulsive purchase.
A typical example is the smell of freshly baked bread that makes you more likely to buy some bread when walking by a bakery.
Priming triggers Impulsive Purchase
In fact, not all influencers have the power of priming. Influencers can impose the priming effect only if they have acquired the following prerequisites:
1. Mastery Makes Influencers More Believable
If influencers have mastery over their content, they are likely to have more influence on their followers. A clear and certain positioning helps influencers build up the image of authority and thereby cultivate trust with their followers.
2. Reciprocity Makes Followers Return the Favor
If influencers have devoted time and effort to provide content, insights, or information in a way that’s truly helpful to their audience, according to the norm of reciprocity, the followers will likely feel obliged to return the favor.
3. Rapport Builds Loyalty & Trust
Building rapport with followers is important. As long as this relationship maintained, influencers can inspire confidence among their followers and win their heart. More importantly, rapport lends authenticity to the message and the campaign presented by the influencers.
Once influencers possess the above prerequisites, they can enforce the power of priming.
Back to our previous case, normally, people seldom spend $200 for a cutting board. They might just buy one on internet or at supermarket where it costs $20.
Who has the power to prime consumers and change their behavior – response in a few minutes to buy a cutting board with 10x higher price?
Maybe only an influencer like Wenyi can do. She is a very influential KOL mastering in cooking and people trust her recommendations. She has keen interest in creating her stories that make people love cooking - this is the prime.
A great influencer is like a Director of Life Experience, with an ability of storytelling about their experience that evokes emotion and fantasy thereby making their followers immerse in it, engage in it, and finally be part of it.
Right Influencers Make the Difference
Both content and influencer marketing are necessary to reach, engage, and build trust with your audiences. Those who are successful with influencer marketing have more than likely invested in content marketing first. Content is the foundation for influencer campaigns; you can’t effectively deploy influencer strategies unless you’ve already developed your brand content.
Influencer marketing is also not simply hiring some famous people online to write and spread the posts about your products and services. The value of influencers is not just to attract more traffic, but to prime your target audience to be more impulsive in making purchase decision. Understanding these principles can help you pick the right influencers and persuade audiences better.
China Business Strategist and Digital Marketing Expert Click here to connect with the author on Linkedin