Social media influencers can wield considerable power when it comes to advocating for brands and even causes specifically with the niche that is their following on a given platform. Among the various platforms, Instagram, is one of the most influential with many of its most popular users driving sociopolitical opinion and nudging consumers towards particular products and services.
Helen Inseng Duh and Thabile Thabethe of the Marketing Department at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, have investigated the attributes that seem to endow the most influential users of the Instagram platform with their particular power to drive opinion. They have gathered data on 330 "millennials" from diverse backgrounds studying at the university to see whether there are any correlations with social and cultural background or whether it is the characteristics of the influencers themselves that push their popularity and persuasiveness.
Writing in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, the team has found that trustworthiness, familiarity, similarity, and likeability were significant drivers of brand engagement. However, the likeability of an influencer perhaps paradoxically was a negative driver of brand engagement. Moreover, it seems that expertise and the attractiveness of the influencer had little effect on brand engagement.
The attention of consumers is constantly pulled in different directions by all kinds of marketing distractions on a wide range of devices in the wider world through advertising hoardings and traditional media and sales approaches in shopping centers and beyond. Given this scenario, it is intriguing that a personality on social media, whether an established celebrity, such as an actor, musician, sporting hero, or a new kind of celebrity, made famous by a given platform, can have any direct influence at all, but this is very much the case. Marketers are exploiting this influence widely just as they have done other media over the years. It is critical to their success in achieving their sales goals that they understand what it is about the so-called influencers that drive engagement with the products and services being marketed and how this affects brand recognition and ultimately purchasing decisions.
The bottom line in the study is that the biggest factor regarding the impact a given influencer has on brand engagement is whether or not they are familiar not whether they are attractive, likable or an expert in a given niche. Ultimately, to achieve the greatest success when targeting millennials with influencer marketing, marketers need to simply choose familiar and moderately likable social influencers to communicate and endorse their brands, the team suggests.
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More information: Helen Inseng Duh et al, Attributes of Instagram influencers impacting consumer brand engagement, International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising (2021). DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2021.118261Provided by Inderscience