You Ask, I Answer: Paid Influencers and Message Effectiveness

Tammy asks, “In theories of persuasion from social psychology, the effectiveness of a message to persuade someone is significantly harmed when a receiver of the message becomes aware of any ulterior motivations (i.e., getting compensation) that the source of the message may have for making that argument, or they believe that someone is trying to persuade them. This has always concerned me when it comes to formal agreements being set with influencers. While your goal is to be transparent, the second that you disclose that you are in a relationship with a company, I begin questioning whether your recommendations come from truly loving and believing in the product or because you are receiving some sort of compensation. Therefore, the whole thing backfires. Any thoughts on combating this?”

Full disclosure, I’m not a psychologist. That said, I refer to Robert Cialdini’s factors of influence from his many books on the topic:

  • Reciprocity
  • Consistency
  • Social proof
  • Authority
  • Liking
  • Scarcity

In particular, social proof, authority, and liking are the factors which might overcome a potentially tainted message. Watch the video for more details and thoughts.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s episode, Tammy asks, as a follow on to the previous question in theories of persuasion from social social psychology, the effectiveness of my message to persuade someone is significantly harmed when a receiver of the message becomes aware of any ulterior motivations, such as getting compensation that the source of the message may have for making that argument or they believe that someone is trying to persuade them. This is always concerned me when it comes to formal agreements being set with influencers, while your goal is to be transparent. The second you disclose that you’re in a relationship with the company. I question whether your recommendations come from truly loving and believing the product or because you’re receiving some sort of compensation. Therefore, the whole thing backfires. Any thoughts on combating this?

I’m not a psychologist,

probably the work that comes to mind. Most is Robert Cialdini has many, many books on influence.

And sort of his six core factors of influence reciprocity, consistency, social proof, authority, liking scarcity and

very quickly reciprocity is someone does something for you you feel a social depth to do something for them consistency is people wanting to do things that are consistent with their past behaviors social proof is bandwagon effect everyone everyone else is doing and I should be to authority which is trusting people who are in authority figures buying from people who would like liking and scarcity a limitation you’re on sale now limited time or limited numbers those are the sort of the the six ways that businesses and people in general can influence other people now of those six three of them relate to influencers social proof is one the other people are doing it particularly if you see an influence talk about something and then all

whole bunch of other people share it, comment on it retweeted etc, as a way to, to to show us social proof that hey this is a an important thing so somebody talking about

a server and encryption method in b2b a perfume a fragrance a coffee and b2c,

there’s a social proof element to that. The second factor that makes a lot of sense is authority so influencers by default are somewhat authoritative figures in the sense that we look up to them we look up to them we pay attention to what they have to say right now.

So political season in the in the United States and a very famous entertainer Taylor Swift has been highlighting people to go and vote and a number of places that reported unusual upticks since her announcement in voter registration voter participation so

that authority

It is very real and obviously companies have used this one for a really long time you guys like I’m not a doctor but I play one on TV Of course we pay attention to that and the third is liking and liking us where other influencers really do well which is

we buy from people we like we trust people we like and so if an influencer is likeable if an influencer focuses on that those the human aspects of course we’re going to buy for them. So

from that question

if an influencer is using any of these principles that that Cialdini outlines and his books of course, they

they still have that person that that element of, hey, you’re being paid to say this but it can be overwritten.

The other thing I think I add to this list which is sort of in here sort of not which is

is demonstrated expertise not necessarily authority but subject matter knowledge if an influencer

especially if it’s something you don’t necessarily know well but have been inflicted demonstrates credibility they demonstrate the ability to to know what they’re talking about

that can also help overcome that bias because yes

you know a real simple example is sponsored product placement if you go on to a site like all recipes and you pull up a recipe for something, and there are certain sponsored recipes, you know, sponsored by Campbell’s soup and this is this recipe that inevitably has a Campbell Soup product unit

you may or may not go out and buy Campbell Soup to make that recipe but at the very least you can you still trust that recipe because it makes sense like okay put a mushroom soup in your in your

string bean casserole and will taste better than just using regular milk and so there’s a level of expertise there that

I think adds to the credibility of an influencer especially around more complex subject matters, like b2b influence.

That said

the authority the liking and the social proof are incredibly powerful. When you look at

a really good example when when one of the Kardashians got in trouble, got a fellow fellow, the FTC for Hawking a nutraceutical product

Do you honestly believe that

someone like that has the deep subject matter expertise into the nutraceutical probably not not saying for sure because people can surprise you famous actor, Dolph Lundgren has a master’s degree in chemical engineering from MIT really smart guy


on the whole an influencer does not necessarily need something

matter expertise if they have that authority and that social proof working for them. Now, if you are

if you are an influencer, if you can get all six working for you, you’re gonna you’ll obviously be that much more influential. And so some of the other principles like reciprocity, consistency and scarcity May May equally be at work, especially with this something like a giveaway, hey, I’ve got 1000 of these things to give away is automatically scarcity. And there’s automatically reciprocity which is one of the reasons why influences do giveaways

and why people tend to fall in camps. So for example, I do a lot of work with IBM.

And so if if I’m talking to people who for whom IBM has already in the consideration set maybe they haven’t bought yet but but they are advocates of or believers in the way IBM does things,


that consistency principle will be applied.

One of the things we see right now in the very, very polarized political environment of the us is that consistency principle being taken to extreme

where just because you will you believe in the blue team or the red team

and you stick with that consistency that commitment to a perspective or a team color or whatever.

As the message drifts into more and more absurd extremes you still stick with that because of that consistency of that that commitment. So if an influencer is able to have a consistent message, or even go so far as to create their own tribe, Taylor Swift for example, you can extend your message to

you can extend your influence by by by working with companies and products that are consistent with your audience are consistent with your past behavior or consistent with what you and your tribe stand for, so

The payment thing

is impactful. I think if none of these factors of influence are in play once, one or more of these much stronger factors are in play, I think the payment thing kind of goes out the window,

or at least its impact is significantly diminished and the more boxes you tick off of shoddy nice list, the less than less the payment matters. So something to think about. And we’d love to hear your opinions because Tammy who’s commented on this post is actually a doctor of psychology is I’d like to hear from someone who actually is an authority figure

on the topic, but thanks for asking. As always, please leave comments in the comments box below. Subscribe to the YouTube channel newsletter I’ll talk to you soon. Take care want help solving your company’s data analytics and digital marketing problems. This is trusted today and let us know how we can help you

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