How Influencers Build Community and Drive Sales

Social media influencers are an important part of a digital marketing plan. Given the metrics and statistics, that statement should no longer be considered controversial. The plain fact is, influencers have become a valuable part of most successful digital marketing campaigns. The reason for this is simple: Influencers build community, drive engagement, and create sales.

That much is self-evident. What’s not so self-evident is why this happens and what digital marketers should do to encourage more of it happening to the brands they represent.

One of the first – and biggest – reasons for the success of social media influencers is the trust they’ve established with their audiences. Fans and followers value their opinions while also seeing influencers, in many regards, and just like them. The point being, these are not celebrities talking down to audiences from their pedestals. These are real people sharing their real lives and that perception of trust goes a long way toward compelling buying decisions.

This trust exists because fans and followers aren’t just following a personality, they see themselves as members of an in-group, participating in a culture that delivers a sense of connectedness and belonging. Smart influencers develop their own in-group trends, lingo, cultural norms, and expectations within the group.

It’s this community that’s at the heart of why and how influencers have developed such clout in the digital marketing age. And what has this movement done for brands? Some market watchers say influencers offer brands up to 600-700 percent return on their investment.

Think about those numbers for a moment. Consider the implications of that kind of ROI, mull over the fact that nearly four out of ten Twitter users say they’ve bought products or services specifically because of an influencer’s tweet, and four out of ten bought. This is all based on a single tweet. 

Where does this compelling immediacy come from? How is it that so-called “regular” people have the ability to get strangers to make immediate buying decisions in those percentages?

Well, the first part of that answer is to correct the notion that these consumers see themselves as strangers. While it’s true they may never have actually met the influencer that caused the sale, they still view themselves as part of this influencer’s circle. They follow their daily lives, listen to their opinions, and appreciate their perspectives, usually related to a very specific niche.

Because this perception of value and belonging is baked in, people are already halfway to a purchasing decision even before they know they want whatever the item in question might be.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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