Influencer marketing works—just ask Emily Weiss, the founder and CEO of makeup brand Glossier.

“At Glossier, something we’ve always stayed very true to, since pre-launch, day one, is that every single person is an influencer.”—Emily Weiss, Glossier CEO

And this strategy has paid off in droves. Since its launch in 2015, Glossier has amassed a total value of $390 million.

Utilizing a strategy of working with micro influencers (influencers with less than 10,000 followers) and power middle influencers (influencers with 10,000-250,000 followers), Glossier is a shining example of why influencer marketing is so effective.

In fact, this post garnered over 105k likes and 242 comments.

Not bad for posting a couple of pictures, huh?

The 5 cornerstones of effective influencer marketing

So just what is it that makes influencer marketing so effective? Let’s take a look.

1. Personal connections

Emily Weiss has got it right—social media has made it possible for anyone to be an influencer, whether it’s the girl next door or even your grandma.

This has made it easier than ever for influencers to connect with their fans. Unlike the glamorous celebrities we see on TV, influencers are people just like you. As a result, people are likely to feel more connected and trust them more.

2. Social conformity

At the end of the day, humans are social creatures and we do what we can to fit in. This is one of the reasons influencer marketing works so well—it’s wired into our brains.

A large part of why people follow influencers is similar to the “keeping up with the Joneses” effect. We want to be similar to the people we spend time with, so if your friends are keeping up with an influencer, you instinctively want to as well.

In fact, if we violate or deny this instinct, we actually experience negative effects. Our brains trigger a warning that we are in danger of being rejected by our peers for not following the same norms as them.

3. Social influence

As humans, we have a tendency to believe the things people in positions of authority say. This extends to influencers—we look up to them as social authorities and, by proxy, trust that the things they say are true.

This puts influencers in a unique position of power. Companies then tap into this using influencer marketing to apply that same trust to their own brand.

4. Community support

Volunteering in your community. Helping a friend move. Giving your parents a lift to the airport.

Why do we do these things? Well, because it feels good.

As humans, we like to offer a helping hand to those close to us. Influencers build personal connections with their followers, leading to a similar feeling of “closeness”.

As a result, our penchant for helping our friends also extends to influencers. If an influencer is advertising a product, we have a natural urge to help them do well.

5. The illusion of control

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. That, he must choose to do himself.

Our natural instincts point us to survival. Often, this involves having a certain amount of control in life. If we can control how much food we get, we can make sure we have enough to survive. If we can control how safe our homes are, we don’t have to worry about predators.

As a result, our minds get finicky if they believe they don’t have control. That’s why so many people don’t like being marketed to without permission—it takes away their control of the situation.

In the case of influencer marketing, you choose to follow the influencer. If you’re marketed to, it’s because you chose to allow it.

This ends up removing the psychological barriers we have to being marketed to, slipping past our defenses and leaving us more open to hearing a brand’s offering.

How to identify the right influencer for you

The numbers don’t lie. Influencer marketing works and it’s only poised to get bigger—by 2022, it’s estimated that the industry will be worth up to $15 billion.

If you’re interested in carrying out your own campaign, you have two options to find the right influencer:

  1. You can search through Instagram and find them manually
  2. You can use an influencer platform

Influencer platforms like Social Media Famous save you time and money by giving you access to information like engagement rates, average comments, and estimated post prices from real influencers.

Sure, you can search for them manually, but this poses a few problems because:

  1. It’s a huge time sink
  2. You have to deep dive into profiles to create relevant stats
  3. You might end up working with a fake influencer (Francois: if you’re posting the article about fake influencers, it’d be a good idea to hyperlink here)

In contrast, influencer platforms vet the influencers for you to make sure none of them have paid followers. On top of that, they compile all the data into easy-to-read reports like the one below.

This gives you an accurate view of influencer account statistics while saving you time from pouring over endless Instagram posts.

In conclusion: key takeaways

Influencer marketing taps into the human psyche to help brands bypass the normal psychological barriers other marketing strategies run into. When creating your own campaign, remember these key takeaways:

  • Influencers build personal connections with their followers, then use these connections to facilitate trust.
  • One of the main reasons influencer marketing is so effective is that it allows consumers to feel like they’re still in control.
  • Because followers trust and care about influencers they follow, they have a desire to help them in any way they can.

Ready to plan your own influencer marketing campaign? Sign up for a free account and find the right influencer for you.