What drives social influencers’ abilities to influence purchases?
A university study finds originality and follower size are among the common factors driving engagement in influencer campaigns. However, many influencer attributes fall under the Goldilocks Effect, or the sweet spot between too little and too much.
Researchers led by Hong Kong Polytechnic University analyzed more than 5,800 influencer posts from Weibo, the Chinese social media platforms. Seven variables driving campaign effectiveness were identified:
- Number of followers: A large following not only offers greater reach, but the influencers are seen as more popular and credible.
- Posting frequency: A medium level of posting activity, around five posts per week, was seen driving the best engagement. Infrequent posters were seen as not up-to-date on information or lacking enough presence on followers’ feeds to build trust. Over-frequent posters can clutter followers’ feeds and create fatigue.
- Follower/brand fit: Influencers whose followers had some (but not too much) brand fit led to the best engagement. When an influencer’s followers are highly interested in the topic, posts often compete for attention with similar content.
- Influencer originality: Influencers posting a greater proportion of original content stand out more and appear more knowledgeable and authentic.
- Post positivity: Posts that tended to be slightly more positive than optimal saw the most engagement. Overly positive posts often come off as disingenuous.
- Whether posts links to the brand: Linking to a brand’s social media account or external web pages performed significantly better. The links offered important additional information about the content to support further engagement.
- Whether posts announce a new product: Influencer posts announcing new products were found to drive significantly lower engagement than equivalent posts that were not about new product launches.
The study comes as nano and micro-influencers receive more attention. Pierre Cassuto, CMO for influencer marketing platform Humanz wrote in Adweek, “Do they follow brand guidelines? Do they convey enthusiasm for the product? Are the technical features of their content such as lighting strong? Do they drive engagement with their audiences and seem keen on driving sales? All of these are better metrics for creator selection than their number of followers.”
- Influencer Marketing Effectiveness – Journal of Marketing
- These factors have the biggest impact on influencer marketing effectiveness – University of Washington
- Does Influencer Marketing Really Pay Off? – Harvard Business Review
- 3 Reasons to Stop Paying Influencers Based on Follower Counts – Adweek
- Why Micro and Nano Influencers are More Influential Than Ever – Hello Partner
- Why Nano-Influencers Are Important For Brands – Advertising Age
- How should influencer marketing be measured? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What factors drive optimal engagement in influencer campaigns? What factors should be considered by brands and retailers when choosing influencers to work with?