Influencers: Like a pair of jeans, it’s all about the perfect fit

Influencers: Like a pair of jeans, it’s all about the perfect fit

8th January, 2020 by Sally Haywood

As a Business Management and Marketing graduate, my studies provided a vast array of insights into the world of business. A topic that piqued my interest in particular was digital communications and marketing. As a result of this, I decided to write my final year dissertation on the rise of Instagram influencers and whether their perceived ‘influence’ actually impacts consumer purchasing decisions and engagement with a brand.

My desk research revealed that Instagram users perceive influencers as more stimulating and engaging than celebrities or actors as they feel they can relate to them more[1]. As consumers, we’re increasingly using social media as a primary source of information when researching a brand, therefore it’s essential for brands to be able to connect with consumers through influencers they find the most appealing and relatable.

And the interviews I conducted myself as part of my research revealed three stand out themes regarding Instagram influencers:

  • Firstly, it’s vital for a brand to select an influencer who is relevant to and aligns with the brand. Choosing an influencer simply because they have a large following won’t cut it. If the influencer doesn’t align with the brand’s ethos and values, it’s more than likely just going to confuse consumers rather than interest them.
  • Secondly, I examined the credibility of influencers, and the factors that increase this in the eyes of consumers. Previous research suggested there were three factors which affected credibility – trustworthiness, attractiveness and expertise. I asked participants to rate which factor they perceived to impact the influencers credibility the most. Expertise came out on top, followed by the attractiveness of the individual and finally their trustworthiness.

Participants also revealed that the factors affecting their views were also topic sensitive. For example, expertise tended to be the most important factor that alluded to the influencer’s credibility among participants who used Instagram for cooking, travelling or skin care, whilst those who used Instagram for fashion, hair, and makeup inspiration (products affecting physical appearance) were more likely to choose attractiveness as the factor that equated to credibility.

  • Finally, I explored the “impact on brand perception”, and what might happen if a brand works with an influencer that isn’t “right” for them. My research revealed that most participants felt that the use of an influencer they don’t like could deter them from shopping with the brand, or at least tarnish their opinion of the brand. This demonstrates the importance of creating a solid and well-thought out influencer campaign.

My role at Richmond & Towers now allows me to put these findings into practice, and I’m delighted that I’ve joined a team that listens and uses the latest insights like these to recommend the right strategy for clients. We also use our keen understanding of our clients’ brand values and goals to select influencers who perfectly align with individual campaigns.

For example, for our skincare client Cetaphil we’ve been working with dermatologists and keen skincare advocates to land the message that it should be the brand of choice for Millennials. Likewise, for our client Beyond the Box, we’ve worked with some of the UK’s highest profile and most credible sustainability and lifestyle influencers to successfully promote the benefits of cardboard to a mainstream audience, with some staggering results and engagement rates well above industry norms.

If you’d like to learn more about how our social and digital know how can help your brand, then drop us a line (a digital one of course).


[1] Danesi, M. (2015) Popular culture: Introductory perspectives. Rowman & Littlefield.