October 13, 2015

How Customers Become Influencers: Millennial non-moms' and moms' reasons for using social media

SUMMARY: Recent studies confirm that people trust family and friend recommendations and online reviews more than advertising. Thus, other customers' voices have a big influence on buying decisions. Read on to discover what motivates customers to become influencers, and how to make the most of collaborating with influencers on marketing campaigns.
by Dr. Liva LaMontagne , Editorial Research Manager

From June to July 2015, Influence Central conducted an online survey of 1,000 Millennial women, both moms and non-moms.

The survey revealed that parenthood has a tremendous impact on Millennial women's social media habits and motivations. Most notably, their motivation to be an influencer increases dramatically — it is the top reason for Millennial moms to use social media. In fact, 86% reported they use social media for this purpose.

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Moms also used social media more than non-moms to express opinions, connect with the community, give advice, make brand recommendations and share stories.

What drives this change? How do customers in general become influencers? Stacy DeBroff, Founder and CEO, Influence Central, and Inga Johnson, Vice President of Product and Marketing, Experticity, shared the following insights.

Influence is a two-way street

DeBroff shared that during their own purchase journeys, Millennial moms pay the most attention to first-person recommendations and personal stories from online influencers and bloggers. They seek out blogs and social media recommendations, and look for connections within online reviews that remind them of their own lives.

"Then, as Millennial moms realize how much they value the contextual, personal storytelling of online content, they recognize that they, too, want to share their experiences," DeBroff said.

Looking beyond the group of Millennial moms, Johnson shared data from Experticity's network of nearly two million category experts. It shows that 89% are regularly asked what to buy, and that they are motivated most by a desire to share what they've learned about their passions with others.

She added that most active online review writers want to show off their knowledge, bolster their egos and build their own status and credibility through these contributions.

Johnson contended that the same motivations apply to influencers: "They have passion for a category and love the status they receive from their peers or fans from being 'in the know.'"

Advice for marketers

Tip #1. Be transparent about your brand's relationship with the reviewers or influencers

"The biggest mistake marketers make is trying to 'buy' a review and not disclosing the nature of the relationship they have with a reviewer," Johnson said.

When Kim Kardashian tweeted about a maternity drug without disclosing she'd been paid for that endorsement, it "landed the company in hot water with both consumers and federal regulators," Johnson said.

Tip #2. Build long-term relationships with influencers

"What makes true category influencers so great and also so challenging for brands is that they can't be bought," said Johnson, adding that, "You have to win them over." How do you accomplish that?

Offer influencers insider status, firsthand experience with your product and interesting content that feeds their passion for knowledge and being "in the know." Listening to influencers' feedback will also make your product better, she added.

To sum up, customers become influencers when they are passionate about a product category. They are actively seeking out blogs and social recommendations that they can relate to, and they are sharing their own stories. Influencers can be a valuable part of your marketing, but you have to be transparent about the nature of the relationship and build long-term relationships with them.

Related Resources

Subscribe to MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week — Get data and discoveries delivered to your inbox

How Motherhood Transforms Millennial Women (from Influence Central)

Consumer Trust Survey (from Experticity)

Social Media Marketing: How Lilly Pulitzer, Kahlua and Neiman Marcus use brand influencers (From the MarketingSherpa blog)

Lead Generation via Influencers and Experts in 4 Steps (From the B2B Lead Roundtable blog)

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