Influencer Marketing as Referral Marketing


How do you learn about new ideas, products or places? Take a minute, is it from a friend, from a Facebook post, or a TV ad?

I’m going to assume that more than 50% of you said that you said that you are more likely to trust a recommendation from a friend than an advertisement you see on TV or on Facebook. According to a study by Contently more than 92% of people are more likely to purchase something that their friend recommended than something they saw on TV or in an ad. This makes sense, you trust your friend and their recommendations and are in turn more likely to purchase the item that they recommended.

Businesses and brands can greatly benefit from customer referrals. As “time and time again, studies have shown that people almost always trust their friends opinions over generic advertisements and sales pitches carefully crafted by the brand themselves”, according to Shopify. However it can be difficult to create a scalable referral program, as many people have a limited amount of friends that could benefit from your business. For example, if you are a brand that only sells curly hair products, tapping into your power users and having them hand out referral codes to their friends may come with limitations as many of their friends may not have curly hair. And that’s where influencer marketing comes in…

In today’s society, the idea of a “friend” is very different than what it used to be. People become friends through apps like Bumble BFF, and even Instagram. The age of technology has allowed us to meet people beyond our immediate circle of friends, and create relationships with people online, some who we may never meet.

On Instagram, I follow people who I admire and add value to my life. I follow influencers like Gal Meets Glam and Cup of Joe because I appreciate what they have to say and I believe that they have similar beliefs as I do. While we may not be friends IRL (in real life) I respect them and what they have to say, and over time I feel like I have become a part of their lives. Social media has allowed us to redefine friendships, and get to know complete strangers in such an intimate way we can almost consider them a friend.

As a recent study from Chief Marketer says, 74% of consumers will only purchase something if they read a review about it from a credible source. Thus this idea of having someone of “influence”, who is a credible source, share brands story is incredibly powerful. I trust my favorite influencers and value what they say and would therefore be more inclined to purchase their product.

That’s why as a brand refocusing your referral marketing efforts, and looking to people who have thousands of friends within your specific niche could be extremely valuable. While it is important to keep in mind that you should always look to influencers who have followers that fit your specific niche, it’s almost a no brainer to look to influencer marketing as an extremely important part of your overall marketing strategy as 40% of people say they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Vine, or YouTube (Twitter and Annalect, 2016).

So my challenge to you as a business and as a marketer, rather than spending hours trying to figure out how you can kick start your referral marketing, I recommend you change your perspective and look to influencers in your network to recommend your product.

Image found from Mobile Marketing Watch

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