Many Followers Trust Influencers' Opinions More Than Friends'

How influential can social-media personalities be?

Sideqik polled 641 U.S. consumers who have at least one social media account on Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, Instagram or Pinterest, and follow at least one influencer on one of those social platforms. The respondents were chosen at random from within the social media user population, and were representative of the broader U.S. population in gender (45% male and 56% female) and age (an average age of 38 and  220 respondents falling between 18 and 30), according to the company.

Fully 70% said that they trust the opinions of influencers as much or more more than their real-world friends, 78% said they trust influencer opinions more than traditional ads, and more than half said they consider the influencers they follow to be an extension of their circle of friends. Outside of Facebook, fewer than half of the people these respondents follow on social are people they know in real life.

Further, many don’t feel the need to engage with influencers to be swayed by them. While just 57% of respondents said they regularly engage with influencers they follow, 77% reported purchasing a product based on an influencer’s post. (Sideqik dubs these consumers "passive purchasers.")

The results also underscore the importance of brands vetting influencers before associating with them -- in no small part because of the authenticity factor. And these consumers seemed to perceive levels of authenticity, rather than viewing it as a "has it or doesn't have it" proposition. 

Eight-four percent of respondents said that authenticity is important when choosing influencers to follow, but even more said that forced or faked authenticity is as likely to make them un-follow someone as a total lack of it. Still, 65% of respondents agreed that "real value" is more important than "total" authenticity.

"Therefore, finding the right balance between authenticity and value will be especially critical for brands as trust in influencers continues to grow," notes the report based on the survey.

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