Data Proof: Twitter research shows people trust influencers as much as they trust their friends

“How influential are these so-called influencers ?” This question comes up often in discussion when PR and Brands get together to map out their marketing strategy.

It also seems to be the root of the study commissioned by Twitter and executed by Annalect which is a division of Omnicom Media Group and leader in marketing data.  According to Twitter: “The goal was to study the direct impact each ad format had on brand health metrics like awareness, favorability, and purchase intent.”

The research was divided into two phases. In the first phase, more than 300 respondents were surveyed to understand how consumer receptivity toward brand influencers on Twitter compared with their perceptions when interacting with alternative ad formats and word-of-mouth marketing. The second phase explored the findings further through an online lab experiment in which over 500 users were exposed to traditional digital ad formats as well as promoted brand and influencer Tweets in-situ.

The “How influential are these so-called influencers” result:

Nearly as much  value was placed on the word of an influencer as was placed when a friend made a recommendation for a product or service.

  • Around 40 percent said they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Vine or YouTube.
  • 20 percent said they shared something they saw from an influencer
  • One-third of millennials say they follow a creator on Twitter or Vine
  • Older demographics (people aged 45 and up) tended to follow a wider range of influencer accounts and showed a preference for household names.
  • Millennials, on the other end of the spectrum, were disproportionately interested in “handheld names” — Twitter and Vine creators.
  • Participants aged 13-24 were twice as likely to evaluate an influencer by their social presence and follower count as older audiences.
  • One-third said they followed and engaged online with these social media celebrities.
  • Not surprising that traditional influencers like actors, athletes, and musicians continue to have the broadest reach among audiences. More than half of Twitter users follow actors and musicians.
  • People who were exposed to brand Tweets had a 2.7x lift in purchase intent over participants who did not see an advertiser Tweet. When participants were exposed to a campaign that featured both brand and influencer Tweets, the lift in purchase intent more than doubled to 5.2x.

Jeffrey Graham Twitter VP of market research said in an Adweek interview that “household names” have evolved into “handheld names” now that influencers can sell products to anyone with a smartphone. “People are looking at their phones, they’re reading what influencers say and then they’re telling their friends,”

In 2015 Twitter purchased Niche  which is a company that develops content for Vine, Instagram and other social platforms. Niche’s pool of creators grew from 6,000 to around 24,000 within a year (at the time of posting the number is now 33,726). In that time, its business has grown rapidly with the average deal size increasing 250 percent and monthly campaign volume up 300 percent. Niche’s staff has also doubled, increasing to more than 50 people with international teams in England, Japan and Brazil.

People follow brands for facts and influencers for entertainment

Part of the research that is interesting is that nearly 40% of respondents indicated they followed brands on Twitter. Of those respondents, 60% said that they followed brands to learn about products, as opposed to influencers, who they predominantly followed for entertainment.

This  part of the research reaffirms what I have been saying for years. Stats, Figures, Specs and other facts are available on millions of websites. People can find those with a quick Google search. An Influencer who is good at his/her job is to address issues beyond the facts and stats and figures. The job is to show how that gadget works in the real world, how that hotel treats your kids, how that restaurant respond to a complaint. These go way beyond specs and figures and that is why a good influencer’s audience looks to them for that real opinion.

Twitter research shows people trust influencer as much as they trust their friends

One comment

  1. this was a brilliant and insightful read! I’ve been looking into a career in social media lately and this just gives me great information to consider. It’s so true, I have a friend @Kay_Angel who I recently featured on my blog. with +500k followers, she is definitely an amazing influencer and gets a crazy amount of interaction from her fanbase.

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