Who do you look to on social media when you want advice about a potential purchase?

Sure, the Kardashians of the world have the ability to influence people's purchases across the globe, but those kinds of megacelebrities are few and far between. What most consumers—especially Millennials—truly crave in their relationships with social media influencers is something that more closely resembles what they get from their friends.

Approximately 94% of consumers say that friends are more effective than celebrities in regards to endorsing products, and more than 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that eschews celebrities in its ads in favor of real customers.

The key for marketers is to seek out local influencers who have built their followings organically. They've taken the time to gain influence with their audience through word-of-mouth and the power of networks. That results in a greater level of trust that's transferred from the brand to the consumer.

Know that turning to hyperlocal influencers can be damaging to a brand when it's done haphazardly. But when approached with care and caution, this strategy can create new opportunities for you to engage your customers and harness the power of word-of-mouth advertising in a controlled setting.

Trust is the cornerstone of influencers' online relationships

When the time comes to choose influencers to partner with, you should consider their relationships with their audience members.

Trust is the engine that drives this alliance, so look for influencers who respect and understand the primacy of trust. Just as your salespeople need to understand their customers' needs to be effective, influencers need to understand what their followers want to gain from the relationship.

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image of Sarah Clark

Sarah Clark is the president of Mitchell Communications Group, an award-winning PR firm that creates real conversations among people, businesses, and brands.

LinkedIn: Sarah Clark