Micro influencers affect purchase decisions

i am an influencer

Digital influencers have become a major force in online marketing in recent years. Brands turn to celebrities and other influencers to engage audiences and sway purchase decisions in influencer marketing campaigns. A new study by Fullscreen and Shareablee shows that these influencers have a strong impact on their followers’ behaviour.

The study looks at four levels of digital stars:

  • Celebrities – 20 million followers or more
  • Trailblazers – online stars with 1 million or more followers
  • Emerging voices and rising stars – digital creators with 250k – 999k followers
  • Micro influencers – social media stars with less than 250k followers

Young people are influenced by social media stars

In the study, consumers aged 18-34 were asked whether they had taken any action as a result of seeing social media posts from digital influencers. Not surprising, many of them had and it turned out that celebrities were least effective in swaying consumer behaviour.

Micro influencers and “rising stars” are most effective in getting consumers to try one of their recommendations. As many as 45% of consumers report that they had done that.

“Digital trailblazers” are very effective at getting followers to purchase an item that they talked about in social media. Influencers with less than a million followers are almost as effective, while one in five consumers report that they had made a purchase as a result of a celebrity post.

Instagram creates most engagement for influencers

Among the social platforms that digital influencers use (Snapchat not included), Instagram creates the most engagement. This is especially true for micro influencers who see 86% of total engagement take place on Instagram.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that for example Youtube is not important. For many influencers, Youtube generates millions of views, so it all depends on how you define engagement. Also, I would have liked to see how much blogs affect consumer behaviour. At least in Sweden, many high profile bloggers generate massive sales for brands in campaigns that include a combination of blogs, Instagram and Youtube.

To read the entire report, please click here.

Consumers use social media to put pressure on brands

Canadian singer Dave Carroll became an instant hit on YouTube when he recorded and published the song “United Breaks Guitars”. The video describing how United Airlines broke his guitar, has been viewed 5.8 million times and has become a great case story for how consumers are putting pressure on businesses via social media.

To add insult to injury, apparently United once again managed to mess up a trip for Carroll. The New York Times writes that United lost Carroll’s bag on a recent trip to Denver.

In an interview, Mr. Carroll said that for more than an hour on Sunday, he was told he could not leave the international baggage claim area at Denver International Airport, where he had flown from Saskatchewan. He said he had been told to stay because his bag was delayed, not lost, and he had to be there to claim it when it came down the conveyor belt.

“I’m the only person pacing around this room,” Mr. Carroll said, recalling how he was caught between an order from United staff members to stay and collect his bag, and a federal customs official telling him he had to leave the baggage claim area. The bag never showed.

A United Airlines spokeswoman, Robin Urbanski, said, “We will fully investigate what regretfully happened.”

Social media like blogs and Twitter enable individual consumers to voice their opinions against brands and companies. From a consumer perspective I think this is mainly positive because it gives consumers more power in a relationship that previously was dominated by companies. David is closing in on Goliath. And most incidents where bloggers write really negative comments about brands, they are doing it as a last resource. They’ve tried all the normal routes for customer complaints without success and eventually make a final effort by taking their anger out on their blogs.

Norwegian blogger Vampus today blogged about the Carroll/United kerfuffle. She writes that social media can be used as black mail against politicians, businesses and organizations, but where only part of the truth is revealed. That may very well happen from time to time, which is why companies must not automatically surrender to criticism just because it is published on a blog. The customer is not always right and if you believe the blogger does not have a case, you should say so.

A terrific example of an organization that faced serious allegations from a blogger, and handled it well, is the TSA, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. In a blog post headlined “tsa agents took my son”, a blogger claims her son was taken away from her during several minutes by TSA agents at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport. But the TSA did not just apologize or admit wrong-doing just like that. Instead it investigated the accusations and published the findings on its blog, with CCTV footage and everything (first one video, then nine other from different angles), which showed that the claims were not true. As a result, the blogger backed down and apologized.

I think TSA would not have been able to respond so cleverly if it had not had a blog, so if you are looking for arguments why your organization should start a blog, that might be one. All in all, consumer complaints on blogs and other social media channels are going to increase (a new example today in Sweden from a blogger attacking the bank Nordea). Businesses need to monitor such comments and manage some, but there is no need to panic. With a decent strategy in place you can even survive an attack from a blogger.

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Consumers use blogs to get even with brands

I was reading this post on Whatsnextblog about how disgruntled former employees use the internet for revenge. A few minutes later I stumbled onto this website, saabdisaster.com, which is a blog that was “created because Saab Sweden and it’s agent in South Africa are having big problems for the last six months, and we, Saab owners, are the victims of that!” There seems to be at least 17 Saab owners committed to the blog and they claim to have had 9000 visitors during the last week.

The initial reaction is of course that this is a public relations disaster for Saab in South Africa, but because of the viral nature of blogs, these things have a tendency to spread. One post was made on the subject in a discussion forum at UK Saab owners club and traditional media reported about the site too. One wonders if Saab has a strategy in place to monitor if and how this spreads through the blogosphere?

For the record I have a Saab 9-5 and I’m very satisfied with it, but then again, I’m not in South Africa.