Influencer marketing has taken hold and it doesn’t look like it’s letting go any time soon. Studies show 75% of marketers are using influencer marketing with 43% of them planning to increase spending in the next 12 months.

Just what is it about influencer marketing that’s made it so successful? After all, aren’t most influencers just regular people like you and me?

Yesand that’s precisely why it’s so effective.

The psychology of influencer marketing

A lot of people think of influencer marketing as simple. Snap a couple of picture, upload them, and voila! Watch the money roll in.

What they don’t see is what’s going on behind the scenes. Influencer marketing works because it taps into human psychology. Let’s take a look at how.

Social conformity

Leave a baby alone and they cry. Hold them close and they calm down. Why?

From the very beginning of our lives, humans are social creatures. We flourish in groups and falter when left alone for extended periods of time. Influencer marketing taps into this need for companionship.

In order to feel accepted within a social group, we begin to adopt the behaviors of the people around us. If your friends like to do hot yoga on Mondays, then chances are you probably like to do hot yoga on Mondays too.

The same goes for influencers. If your friends follow a certain influencer, you want to follow them as well. In fact, not following them can trigger the neurons within your brain that are responsible for negative emotions.

This is because humans want to feel like they belong to a group. It makes sense—historically, belonging to a group meant a better chance of survival. So when they don’t conform to the group, the brain gets worried and begins to send warning signals to the brain.

Personal connection

Social media allows us an intimate look into people’s lives, regardless of who they are or where they are in the world. Influencers are masters at using this to build connections, even with people they’ve never met.

This can lead to their followers feeling close to the influencer like they actually know them. This deep connection creates an invested interest in the influencer. Whatever they’re up to, their followers want to be a part of it.

By opening this dialogue with their fans, influencers are able to do things other marketers have trouble with, like persuading them to check out or buy from certain brands.

The desire to help others

We love giving a hand to the ones we love. In fact, we’ll do just about anything to help them.

Usually, this desire to help is reserved for family and friends. However, influencers are capable of building personal connections with their followers, forming an emotional bond that mimics that of a friend in real life.

As a result, an influencer’s followers feel the desire to help them if they can—and that includes interacting with brands the influencer promotes.

The dangers of influencer marketing

Unfortunately, influencer marketing isn’t all smiles and big bucks. The industry is rife with fake influencers who buy their followers.

The reason for this is because the amount an influencer can make is often measured by their follower account. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but the general approximation is that each follower is worth one cent. In turn, this encourages wannabe influencers to buy fake influencers who look good, but won’t actually engage with your brand.

How to avoid fraud

Luckily, there are ways to separate the real influencers from the fake. Some common ways include:

  • Checking the quality of the comments. Comments are more expensive to buy than followers, so often fake accounts will post generic comments like “nice pic” or “love it!”.
  • Keeping an eye out for fake bios. Creating a good bio takes some effort. A real influencer will make sure their bio is descriptive and lets the world know who they are. A fake account won’t.
  • Looking for poor content. Fake influencers need to buy their followers because they don’t have the same draw as real influencers. Often, this is because their content just isn’t up to par.

Another good way to avoid fraud is to use an influencer platform. Influencer platforms, like Social Media Famous, put together carefully curated lists of influencers so you don’t have to worry about spending hours on market research.

With influencer platforms like Social Media Famous, you get access to information such as engagement rates, average comments, and estimated post prices.

You also get access to audience evolution charts that display a visual of follower growth that allows you to look for any weird spikes in follower growth, which could be a sign of paid followers.

You can also check out a visual display of an influencer’s engagement. Just like with the audience chart, you can use this to scan an influencer’s engagement history to look for suspicious activity.

In conclusion: key takeaways

Despite the dangers, influencer marketing is here to stay. When creating your next influencer campaign, remember these key takeaways:

  • Influencer marketing is so effective because it taps into human psychology.
  • We like to follower influencers our friends follow because it gives us a sense of belonging. If we don’t, we experience negative feedback from our brains.
  • Influencers are experts at building connections with their followers, cementing themselves as a friend in the minds of their followers.
  • This perceived friendship makes their followers want to help them.
  • Avoid fraud by paying attention to an account’s content, comments, and activity history.

Ready to create your own influencer campaign? Sign up for a free account and get access to over 2,000 real influencers.