Spending on influencer marketing is on the rise as marketers look to tap authentic voices to help drive awareness, inspire consumers, and drive sales.
But who are the most trustworthy influencers?
I teamed up with Suzy to survey a representative sample of consumers ages 13+ about who they trust for product and brand recommendations and why. On a continuum from “a lot” to “some” to “not at all,” almost half (49%) of those consumers say they don’t trust celebrity influencers “at all.” Other influencer groups fare only slightly better.
It’s everyday influencers, like friends and family, online reviews, and your own employees, who are the most trusted sources for product and brand recommendations. Circles of trust are becoming more local.
Brands need to evolve the way they think about influencer marketing to capitalize on a changing landscape for social influence with everyday influencers.
The four types of everyday influencers that consumers trust most
Friends, family, and coworkers. Ninety-one percent of survey respondents trust friends and family for advice or ideas on products or brands to buy, with nearly half (47%) saying they trust them “a lot.” Personal relationships are trustworthy because consumers believe these people have their best interests at heart.
Ratings and reviews. Next, consumers see ratings and reviews as an authentic source of information about a product or brand. A third (34%) trust reviews “a lot” and another 52% have “some” trust in them.
Brand employees as influencers. While only 16% of people trust them “a lot,” another 58% say they trust the advice they receive online or in-store from brand employees “some,” for a total of 74%.
Online communities. Sixty-eight percent of consumers trust online communities when it comes to products or brands to buy (19% trust them “a lot” and 49% “some”). Consumers aged 18-24 are the most likely to trust online communities “a lot” while older consumers trust them less.
What doesn’t work as well?
Celebrity influencers. Nearly half (49%) of respondents said they didn’t trust celebrity influencers “at all” for advice or ideas on products or brands to buy. Respondents distrust celebrity endorsements because they don’t believe they are genuine.
Influencers who specialize in a subject area. Influencers that specialize were considered more trustworthy. Forty percent of consumers said they trusted this group “some.” But over a third (33%) said they didn’t trust this group “at all,” mainly because these influencers are paid for their opinions..
Tapping into everyday influencers
It has been nearly 20 years since I published my book, “The Influentials,” where I noted that the most influential consumers are those with whom people have a personal relationship.
We should “think local” in influencer marketing programs. Find ways to engage authentic influentials by:
Influencer marketing has a bright future as long as marketers understand where the real influence comes from.