The Blog

August 20, 2016


How Influencer Marketing Taps Into Psychology

Why did you choose to wear what you’re wearing today? Indeed what induced you to buy a particular or any item of your clothing?

You may well think that your decision was made entirely of your own free will.  But it’s more than likely that, what you’re wearing was influenced by something online. We live in an era where our decisions are predetermined by technology and social media, whether we are aware of it or not.

Therefore  your purchase choices could well be swayed by a social media personality wearing either that exact same A- line denim skirt that you like so much or similar skirt. Because we dress like people we consider to be well dressed. That’s what influencer marketing does extremely well! Targeting specific key individuals with whom people already share certain opinions, interests, values and look up to, to boost consumerism.

Although influencer marketing goes way back, its potential has only been realised with the rise of social media.

Though it’s fair to say that the rise of social media is not the only reason for the success of influencer marketing. In fact influencer marketing, makes clever use, and applies social and psychological theories, which reportedly sway consumers’ decision- making processes.


Conformity and Social Influence: We change so we can become more like others

Since time, immemorial humans have lived in social groups or tribes; originally a necessity for mutual support and protection to ensure survival. Those who did not more likely perished without living offspring and so their “antisocial mentality” DNA was not passed down to subsequent generations. Giving rise to a basic human need to form relationships for a sense of community, relatedness and to belonging.


Once you start following a social media personality, whether this is a fashion blogger, a health and fitness instagramer or a beauty guru, you automatically become a member of a social group. We chose to follow certain bloggers because we like them, we either share similar interests, opinions and styles or we aspire to be like them, and we’re not alone. Following a particular blogger places us in a social group among other followers who are just like us.


As consumers, so as to fulfill our aim to be like the influencer who represents that particular niche social group, we consume what they consume. When an influencer, or blogger publishes a sponsored post we consume the product or brand as well. So although we would not have otherwise purchased that item, we do so as it’s taking us one step closer to being like the group.


Social comparison: We compare what we do to others to make sure we’re doing the right thing

We look to blogs so as to maintain our social identity. Comparing what we’re wearing to others with who we share similar values, interests and opinions, confirming we are making the right choices.

Doing influencer marketing the correct way means that the brand and the blogger/ influencer should themselves be linked on specific attributes. This way appealing to the bloggers’ audience, in turn confirming and increasing their confidence on things they should own, or ways they should dress.


Opinion Leaders: Well-known individuals who have the ability to influence opinions of members from their social group

Influencers are opinion leaders. Just like opinion leaders have the ability to influence the opinions of their social groups, influencers impact a consumers buying behaviour. Their opinions are greatly respected and their views are highly valued. Having established a relationship with their social group, they have gained a sense of authority which allows them to sway their group’s opinion.  A group which is formed by their followers.

Bloggers in particular are considered to have in depth knowledge of their area of interest. Over the years they have been proved right with their recommendations and have gained the trust of their followers, they are innovative thought leaders, who we’d love to copy.


Halo effect: The tendency to form opinions about someone’s life based on one aspect

Not only do we as consumers and followers already consider social media personalities as experts within their niche, we project other positive attributes on them. For example if an influencer is good looking, we assume that whatever they wear is beautiful, their personality is also great and their life is perfect. Although social media can easily confirm some attributes, we still make assumptions on other attributes. Our desire to lead the perfect life which we assume they lead, drives us to  consume what they post.


Majority illusion: The illusion that something is more popular than it actually is

Have you felt as though everyone considered to be fashionable on social media lately, has been wearing a slip dress layered on a white t-shirt?

Well it just might not be everyone, in fact it was probably only a few bloggers who tried out the trend.

Influencer marketing targets a handful of influencers in a specific niche who have a large following. Having a large following means that it’s appearing on more people’s feeds giving the impression that it’s universally popular. Even though you could count the influencers who post about a specific trend, brand, or product on your hand, it appears to be more popular than it actually is.

Creating the illusion of popularity, forms the perfect conditions and is enough to actually make something become popular! As a self-proclaimed fashionista yourself, you wouldn’t want to miss out on what appears to be a universal trend!


Mere exposure theory: The more we’re exposed to something, the more we’ll like it- We adopt a preference for things we become familiar to

Social media is the best place to be continually exposed to something. As mentioned in the majority illusion, a well-connected influencer’s sponsored post will appear on a followers feed more often than most. Which means that even though being part of the “it gang” acts as a partial reason to consume particular products, being exposed to it makes us much more familiar with it, insisting that we like it. We eventually, not only like it but we purchase it!



Joanna Karamanis

I’m head of Content at ZINE, where I use my expertise in fashion consumer psychology to empower brands and influencers in their marketing campaigns. I love to travel, bake as well as shopping online.