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Influencers Can Create Short-term Brand Awareness But Experts Help Build Long-term Brand Loyalty

New Data Finds Consumers Are Skeptical and More Likely to Return Influencer-Recommended Products While Experts Earn Trust and Build Shopper Confidence

For decades, celebrities have hawked products on the basis of their notoriety. Today’s social media influencers are following in their footsteps, using their following as leverage with brands seeking a quick burst of awareness. Nearly a quarter (26%) of consumers say they have been swayed to make a purchase by an influencer’s push. 

While a company may make a quick buck when they bring on an influencer to promote their product, the consequences of endorsements based on reach over credibility are beginning to surface. This article will discuss how the old model is leading to negative experiences,  resulting in more returns and contributing to less trust in not just the influencer and the product, but the brand as a whole. 

For more survey results, download our infographic.

How Over-Investing in Influencer-Marketing is a Risky Game

The vast majority of consumers (82%) who have purchased something based on an influencer’s recommendation say they have had a negative experience with the product, with the most common being that the product didn’t match what the influencer claimed in their review. Nearly a third (31%) of consumers who purchased a product based on an influencer’s recommendation ended up returning it. In fact, 37% of consumers say they’ve returned more products they’ve purchased based on an influencer’s recommendation than any other products.

The repercussions for brands and retailers can be long-lasting. More than 2 in 5 (42%) consumers who have dealt with the consequences of purchasing influencer-recommended products say they are unlikely to purchase from that company again. While a lack of product knowledge on the influencer’s part plays a huge role, a third also said they ended up never using the product. Through repeated negative experiences like this, consumers have begun to rely on other sources to make informed purchase decisions. 

For more about our survey, read the full release.

Shoppers are Becoming More Savvy and Seeking More Credible Sources for Product Information

With the arrival of social media in the early 2010s, influencer marketing as we know it emerged. Early-adopter Instagram influencers were able to build massive, loyal followings. However, by the time the decade was over, scandals, fake followers, bot technologies, and the pandemic crisis converged putting a halt to influencer marketing growth and creating skeptical social media followers. 

Many shoppers, especially those who have been burned before by misinformation, have learned to value other sources of information over influencer marketing. For shoppers seeking higher quality sources of product information – experts have emerged as dependable and reputable sources. In fact, experts with 1,000 followers are more than twice as likely to be considered trustworthy than an influencer with millions of followers (11%). 

Conclusion: Experts Are All Shoppers Really Need to Make a Purchase Decision

When it comes to a dependable way to cut through the glut of information available to consumers when making purchases, experts get the job done. In fact, the majority (51%) of consumers say all they really need is an expert demonstrating how to use a product to be confident in their purchase. While paying influencers for their time is a sure way to get your product out there, the research and knowledge that experts can bring are much more valuable in the long run. 

 It’s clear that follower count and popularity are no longer good indicators of success in Social Media Marketing. Today’s savvy consumer appreciates authenticity more than anything else. Consumers today consider expertise before pulling the trigger to purchase a product. For their part, brands in search of a tangible ROI are making the switch from paying influencers for popularity to compensating experts for their expertise, understanding that you can buy reach, but you can’t buy credibility. The age-old concept of  “quality over quantity” wins again.

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