The psychologist’s guide: how to spot the influencers who are actually influential

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Tailify leans on the power of psychology to direct influencer marketing

Influencer discovery is the biggest challenge brands say they face when it comes to creating effective influencer campaigns. How do you find the right influencers for your brand? How do you know if they’ll be influential? Why did the influencers you worked with before drive great results? Or even worse – why didn’t they? Esme Rice, marketing director at Tailify, intends to answer some of these questions and more.

The problem is that marketers cannot accurately predict influence. It’s a human behavior driven by personal interactions. Yet agencies and brands still treat it like an ad buy as they bid for the attention of consumers without earning their trust. Without trust, you cannot turn that attention into influence.

This is the shift in mindset brands need to make to truly understand what makes an influencer influential. The solution? You need to understand behavioral science and the psychology driving online decision-making. Understanding the human element, the values and motivators of an influencer and their audience is the ingredient that 99% of marketers are missing. It’s not enough to just use guesswork or assume people behave in certain ways. We need to study and understand behavior to truly change it.

Tailify is the influencer marketing agency powered by this behavioral science. Our resident chartered psychologist Alan Gray studies the psychology of relationships and online marketing. His research and knowledge informs not only our strategy team, but also our product team, which is building artificial intelligence (AI) to apply this knowledge at scale.

Alan’s latest research has been published as a guide of over 40 tips that brands can use to better understand and inform their influencer selection. When you understand why an influencer’s content is effective, you understand what will make an effective partnership for your product or service.

Take, for example, your latest campaign. You’ve used an influencer previously with x demographics, x number of followers and x number of engagements who drove x number of sales. Perfect! You can just repeat this again. Use an influencer with similar numbers of demographics, followers or engagements and expect to get the same results. Except humans don’t work that way. What makes an influencer effective is not obvious vanity metrics like these – rather it’s the personal relationship and emotion they bring to their connection with the audience.

In his research, Gray discusses concepts such as transportation through narrative arcs. After analysis of top-performing influencers and the good-feel/bad-feel emotions portrayed in their content, it was found by Tailify that influencers who took their followers on emotional journeys drove better results in campaigns. These findings align with the psychology of ‘dispreferred markers’ also presented in Alan’s guide to influence. This linguistic marker is characterised by language that discusses the negative sides of a product. Phrases such as “I’ll be honest...” or “Don’t get me wrong...” introduce doubt and negativity, while maintaining the perception of trust and sincerity, says Gray. By displaying an honest discourse in the review, these creators are able to take the followers on a journey of emotions while remaining trustworthy. These influencers are not only vying for attention but they’re building trust, creating true influence.

Gray’s research presents another 39 psychological traits that can determine how influential your content is. Check out the full guide for more insights to help you select influencers who are actually influential. The guide can be by your side when you are searching for influencers, or seeking to mimic the success of a previously high-performing creator, to help you consider more than just their top-line metrics.

The full guide can be found here, and to meet with Alan in person, check out Tailify’s upcoming event on April 6 2022 in Waterloo, London.