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January 25, 2018 Shownotes:

Influencers are taking the marketing world by storm. With a single endorsed post, influencers introduce your product to hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of followers – and that’s just the beginning. In our latest episode of The 19: Retail, we interview everyday social media users to better understand what makes influencer marketing so powerful.

The 19: Retail – Episode 5

Is Your Selling Under the Influence?

This is The 19. In 19 minutes or less, game-changing Insights in Retail from Orange Label, the leading response marketing agency for established brands that are driven by a fearless entrepreneurial mindset.

Host Intro:

Hi. My name is Gina Magnuson, copywriter at Orange Label, and I’m here to talk to you about tea. More specifically, I’m here to talk to you about Fit Tea. It’s a detoxifying tea made with a bunch of ingredients that are very difficult to pronounce – and, if you drink enough of it, you will magically sprout six-pack abs. At least, that’s what I’ve seen on Instagram. If I haven’t sold you on Fit Tea, it’s probably because – and this may surprise you – I am not a social media influencer. I don’t have tens of thousands of followers on Instagram or my own YouTube channel. However. I know someone who doessss. Well, I don’t know them, but I follow them, which is practically knowing them…right?

Imagine scrolling through your Instagram feed and suddenly you see a bottle of water. This is the same bottle of water you see every day at the grocery store, but this time, it’s in the hands of a beautiful social media influencer and she’s healthy and hydrated and oh my gosh her skin looks amazing! Suddenly, you feel thirsty and the only thing that can quench that thirst is that particular bottle of water. If something like this has ever happened to you, you have witnessed social media’s influence in action. There’s something about not only seeing the product, but seeing the product as part of a lifestyle that we social media users find incredibly intriguing – and today, on The 19: Retail, we’re going to investigate what makes influencer marketing so powerful.

We talked to three women, all in their early 20s, about their experience with influencer marketing to better understand this form of retail. Please keep in mind that these interviews have been conducted in a variety of locations, so sound quality may vary.

Before we dive into the psychology and strategy behind influencer marketing, we have to define what it is. So, who qualifies as a social media influencer? What do they do for a living? Well, according to our interviewees, there are a few standard qualifications:

Interview 1:

I would probably define a social media influencer as someone who has a big following online, especially on social, I feel like a lot of influencers have a big following specifically on Instagram.

Interview 2:

To me, it’s somebody that I follow because I am familiar with certain products that they use or places that they go and something like, the lifestyle that they showcase is something aspirational. So, let’s say they wear these products that I Want to be able to afford and purchase.  And I just like look up to their style and just the way that they do things.

Interview 3:

I think my definition of a social media influencer is someone on all social sites or just a couple of them that has an expertise and is just showing an audience. And they have ahum, a great following.

Host:

So, according to the people we interviewed, influencers have more followers than the average person, they regularly put out content on social platforms, they specialize in certain topics, and, at some level, they’ve really created a branded look and feel that people can draw inspiration from. From health and wellness to food and entertainment to fashion and beauty, our participants followed influencers with expertise in a variety of industries. Here are a few of their favorites:

Interview 2

I follow probably a dozen influencers. One of them is DisneyHungry so she goes to Disneyland like all the time and posts different foods that she finds there. So that’s a fun one I like to follow.  Another one is of the best makeup gurus from You tube Ahum and I follow her on Instagram as well.  And she always has like great product recommendations from like household items to makeup to clothing.  …….. Ah, makeup by Tiffany D.

Interview 3

So, for Instagram I follow Desi Perkins, she’s like a beauty blogger, and she works with like Urban decay and different beauty lines that I like.  And then I also follow people on You tube that do podcasts and his name is Cody Coe and he actually started from Vine which was that little app that had 6 second videos.  And now he does a podcast weekly and he talks about traveling and living in Venice and just random things.

Interview 1

A lot of them are mainly kind of fashion and lifestyle. There are some fitness influencers as well. My favorite is, her like Instagram name is, the Salty Blonde and she basically just posts about fashion, so I get a lot of inspiration from her kind of daily outfits of the day and that kind of thing.

 

HOST:

And, according to the people we interviewed, these influencers are active on multiple social platforms.

Interview 3

Yeah, I actually follow a majority of them on Instagram. But the people from Instagram also are on YouTube and I follow their like snapchats. 

Interview 2

Mostly Instagram is mainly where I’m getting all of my content from influencers. It’s just a lot faster way to get information.

HOST:

Whether it’s health and wellness or fitness or fashion, there is an influencer for every industry and, yes, a lot of the time you will see influencers promoting a variety of products on their social platforms. But being an influencer is more than just endorsing products – in order to be an influencer you have to cultivate a persona and embody a lifestyle that inspires a little bit of FOMO in an authentic way. Authenticity being the operative word here because, ultimately, people follow influencers they can relate to.

Interview 1

I Fell like a lot of the influencers are trying to make like a pretty feed or they just have different objectives I guess. She’s more doing it for fun. But she’ll post like photos and have the caption be like  just ate like a whole basket of mozzarella sticks. So, her kind of captions are funny and relatable. And I think people really react positively to that.

Interview 2

For me, everything about her style is very down to earth but still feels elegant. So she has kind of a classic style … and you see it through her clothing and her home and she has an adorable little family. You know she’s married, and has a daughter.  So,  she’s kind of in that next stage  of life that I’m not in yet but you know look forward to having one day.  Ahum, so elements like that that I really look up to.

Interview 3

The people that I follow actually don’t broadcast their lifestyle as much as like look at I bought this new car with my endorsement money and I bought this.  They’re like normal people and so I think that’s what attracts me to them.  Is that I feel like I’m just following an Instagram of like one of my friends and they just so happen to be into beauty stuff. 

 

HOST:

And, even when people see their favorite influencers posting obviously sponsored content, it doesn’t necessarily bother them. To them, it’s just another part of the job.

Interview 1

I think if you’re going to follow brands and you’re gonna follow influencers there’s bound to be some kind of advertisement, some kind of sponsored post. I feel like if I was getting paid to post on social and I was getting free products I would do the same exact thing.

Interview 3

That’s their job that’s what they go to do Monday through Friday, you know that’s their thing.  So it’s not like I’m offended by it that they’re making something off it because that’s what they chose to be.

HOST:

Here’s the thing: people KNOW when they’re being served an ad and – surprise – it’s not always a positive experience. The difference with influencer marketing is that it offers the user an element of choice. You choose to follow an influencer and, in turn, you choose to buy into their brand and their lifestyle. When an influencer wears a particular clothing brand or uses a specific beauty product, it doesn’t seem like an advertisement, it’s perceived as more of a personal recommendation.

Interview 1

The way that she kind of posts and the way that she talks about the products makes them sound more interesting to me. It’s not so much salesy like oh here I got this product you should buy it. it’s more like how she uses the products and what her candid thoughts are about each product. So if she likes something she won’t post about it.  And I get ads too in my feed. I feel like it’s just a lot of kind of like salesy pushy kind of vibes and I’m not about that. Like if I like something I’ll buy it.  But I don’t like feeling like someone is telling me to do something.

Interview 2

I want a hear someone’s genuine recommendation; I don’t want someone just throwing another product in my face because you get that enough from everywhere so you’re gonna try to tune it out as much as you can.

Interview 3

I already feel like I’m on a personal level with them it’s like a friend referring you this product. Saying like hey it worked for me maybe you should try it it’ll work for you.  And they give you the benefits of why. So, it kind of like cuts the middle man and you just watch one thing and either know if you want their product or not.

 

 

 

HOST:

Plus, influencer marketing is convenient and incredibly accessible. People don’t need to leave the house to discover and shop new and interesting products. All of the information is right there in the palm of their hand.

Interview 2

If people are shopping online they aren’t going into the store. So, if I see an influencer wearing a top I like, I can just clink a link and purchase it then and there.

Interview 1

I do almost all of my shopping online. Based on her wearing the products – I feel like its cool to see them on someone.  And actually see how they would fit a normal person.  So you can kind of picture how it looks on yourself and you can see how she styles it and see you can kind of make that your own.

Interview 3

I feel like everyone is online nowadays.  And you can access this marketing through apps or on a desktop.  You can access it anywhere. 

HOST:

At the core of the matter is trust.  It’s what makes an influencers opinion and in turn their marketability so valuable.  It’s a two-way street, influencers allow their followers to witness elements of their daily life.  Their beauty regiments, what products their using, their social lives.  And in return followers reward influencers with their trust and loyalty.

Interview 3

You feel like you know them.  Compared to someone walking into Sephora asking and asking I don’t know this random girl, I don’t know if she has a makeup license or if she has this this and this. You know but I watch this person all the time.  Like I’m gonna trust their opinion. 

HOST:

But, as soon as an influencer chooses a paycheck over what’s best for their followers, that personal connection can be broken.

Interview 2

There are some where if they post from a sponsor, if they post that product too frequently that will be kind of a red flag.  That’s what’s so great about the internet; is you can you know connect with people that you’ve never before.  So,  once they becomes a salesperson, you lose that connection and it just kind of distances that personal relationship that you feel like you have.

HOST:

Operating on social is also advantageous because it allows users to produce content that really makes an impact. For example, influencers can create video content that documents exactly how a product works without any Photoshop or gimmicks – another factor that cultivates trust among their followers.

Interview 2

A really big element for me to making a purchase based on an influencers post is having video content. If I see an image, that’s great, but especially for something like skin care it doesn’t have as much of an impact as it would if there was a video to complement that.  From there I wouldn’t want to go directly to that brand website.  I would want to go to that influencers video content about that product.

HOST:

Influencer marketing. It’s like looking at yourself in the mirror, but your reflection is incredibly good looking and well-dressed. Hearing these interviews, it was clear that people see the best versions of themselves in the influencers they follow. That said, our it was very clear that our interviewees didn’t aspire to every aspect of the influencer’s life. At some point they had to draw the line between social media and reality.

Interview 1

Ah, I think it would be awesome to live in Hawaii and like run around the beach all day and take photos.  But that’s just not realistic.

Interview 3

It’s just like I feel like there’s little pieces about their life that I find similar.  Ahum, and some of the things I do wish that I had but it’s not to the point where I want to change my life now, because I want that.

HOST:

So, do social media influencers have an effect on shopping behavior? Here’s what our interviewees had to say:

Interview 1

So definitely it has…increased my purchases and my knowledge about brands.

Interview 3

To an extent but not heavily. like I said there’s always occasional instances where I go and get something. Ahum, but they don’t influence me enough to get everything they talk about or everything they wear or anything like that. So it’s just kind of like more of content that I enjoy watching, then content that I want to be proactive about.  

Interview 2

 It’s the only place that I really consistently get advertisements. In my car I listen to pod casts and quickly skip through the commercials.  Or I’ll listen to Spotify which I pay for so I don’t get any ads. Or I go home and you know watch Hulu premium where I don’t get ads, or Netflix where I don’t get ads. So when I’m looking for a new product I’m gonna search for it in Google or YouTube and see what recommendations come up from influencers.  We have the opportunity now to seek it out. You know I’m willing to pay for Spotify because when I’m you know driving to work and driving home I don’t want to hear about you know a new skincare product it’s just not the right time for me you know to take in that information. But if it’s you know a weekend or I’m just ran out of my lotion and want to find something new then I’m to receive that information, and I’m able to get it from people that I trust.

HOST:

From insight on the latest fashion trends to product reviews, following influencers provides access to trusted information and entertaining content that is a valuable resource for consumers. Yet it still felt like we had only just scratched the surface. Why does influencer marketing resonate so strongly with this latest generation of shoppers? Our interviewees shared their thoughts:

Interview 1

So I just like the Salty Blonde, she’s like my favorite, like my life goals because I think she’s really cool and what she posts.  And I like even get kind of inspiration for my photos based on like what she’s posted.  So I feel like she’s just kind of a really cool symbol to reflect the style that I want to have.  And kind of the lifestyle I want to have also.

Interview 3

People are looking at this stuff even from a young age.  And are already getting instilled in their mind like I like XYZ I want to aspire to be that person or I like this product that she has.  Or I like this and I like this.  You’re seeing it in so in so many different ways now.  That it’s just its huge.

Interview 2

For this new generation, I have a niece and she’s 10 and she has Instagram. You know I can’t even imagine how much of an impact it would have you know with someone so young.  Trying to figure out who they are and ahum, being able to take in all this content from people that you admire, aspire to be like.  That wasn’t something I had in those you know crucial ages when you’re kind of developing who you are.  So I think it’s just gonna grow.

At the end of every episode of The 19, we provide you with a quick takeaway that we call The Sum-Up. Here’s today’s Sum-Up. Influencers don’t have customers, they have followers. It’s a very different kind of relationship that goes beyond monetary transactions. Following an influencer feels more personal – you see this person broadcast their life multiple times a day and, however cultivated their image may be, there’s a real connection; they’re trustworthy because they offer expertise in certain industries and they’re relatable because they share similar values. That’s why users are more likely to trust an influencers’ opinion more than a sales associate.

To better understand influencer marketing, we have to explore the meaning of the word “influence.” When you are being influenced, it feels as though there’s a sort of invisible hand guiding you toward your next action. Influencer marketing presents a very similar experience. Careful planning goes into every photograph and every endorsement to create an image people can both relate to and aspire to – an ideal lifestyle that is just enough out of reach that the user is drawn to it, sometimes on a subconscious level. Influencers have the power to make their followers want something without feeling coerced into it – and that makes them an incredibly valuable asset to retail brands that are looking to get response from their customers.

Host:

Thank you for listening to The 19, “Is Your Selling Under the Influence?” If you have additional thoughts on this topic, please share them with us. Visit our website, orangelabeladvertising.com and contact us. And be sure to tune in for our next episode of The 19: Retail, which covers the importance of having real followers on social media.

This was The 19. Brought to you by Orange Label. If you’re interested in MORE retail response marketing, visit our blog and subscribe to our content, where we share our response marketing expertise on current retail industry topics. Visit orangelabeladvertising.com for all the details.

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