The 4 reasons we follow influencers (and why your marketing should mimic theirs)

We follow “influencers” because they are interesting. They show who they are through their posts, showcasing their expertise and unique personality. They share vulnerability with us, which builds our trust. They make us laugh, which makes them feel like friends. (And the best ones do kind of become your friends.) They are responsive to questions they get in comments, direct messages, and tags (as long as the questions/comments they receive are appropriate). The reasons we follow influencers are not only the things you should look for in a partnership with one as a marketer but also the way you should do your own brand’s marketing, whether that is for a company or your personal brand.

Let’s break it down. Here are the four main reasons we follow influencers:

Screenshot of Rachel Johnson's instagram post in which she is doing a video with advice about lifting weights for runners.
This is @RachRunsWorld Rachel Johnson on Instagram. She has 19k followers but holds weekly Q & A sessions with her followers. She also responds via DM when someone asks a question but she doesn’t have time to answer it via her Stories. When she gets comments on her posts, she responds to those too.

They’re responsive

This is perhaps one of the more difficult qualities of an influencer, but it very might well be the most important. Conversation marketing is the next frontier. People expect personalization and when they see a post on social media and it sparks a question within them, they don’t want to have to go visit your website to see if you happen to have the answer there. They want instant gratification. They want you to directly address them, in their specific and unique situation. This is time-consuming and difficult to keep on top of, but it pays off in ROI. People buy from brands and influencers who talk directly to them. Bonus points (and purchases) for making them smile, laugh, and feel seen. The response should be quick (within a few hours, depending on the platform), succinct, and answer all the questions they ask.

Screen shot of a direct message conversation between me and Rachel Johnson. She said "I train in asics dynaflytes! They aren't exactly trail shoes but they work for me in the trails!"
Even with 19k followers, Rachel took the time to direct message me a response to a question I had asked her about what shoes to wear for a trail runner. I don’t know her at all and this was the only interaction we’ve had, but it meant a lot that she would take the time to answer directly.

They feel like friends

I tend to follow influencers based on who feels real (or authentic) to me, someone who fits my personality, and someone who demonstrates expertise. There are so many influencers available about everything you could want to know about, that it makes it fun to find one who you connect with – and that’s also why you as an individual should write about, vlog about, and share on social media the things you personally are interested in – the world will value your unique take on a topic that thousands of others have written about, too!

They are experts about something I am not

I follow health and fitness lifestyle gurus, a women’s running expert, and a few marketing professionals. All of them have a few things in common – they post often (at least weekly if not multiple times a week), they respond to comments, and they share expertise in a fun and engaging way that does not make me feel like I’m being lectured at. The more effort they put into making their content, the better the content tends to be. I’m not saying that every post they do needs to be long and drawn out or state scientific research articles to back up their claims, but when they do post, they do so in an interesting way that leaves me feeling happy or informed or encouraged and they have added something of value to my day. If they only have 15 seconds to hop on Instagram stories and post about their breakfast smooth with a quick rundown of ingredients, they’re sharing part of their day with me and helping me if I want to try and make the same smoothie.

They demonstrate products that could make my life better

Sarah's Day Body Bloom - Gut Health Powder | Tropeaka
Here the YouTuber Sarah’s Day talks about and shows you her product Body Bloom from Tropeaka. Sarah always does a great job demonstrating her products and explaining the how and why behind them.

I have bought their products, and the products they are not sponsored by or make themselves but that they recommend. I’ve purchased at home gym guides from the fitness experts, shoes that the running expert recommended, and books that have enhanced my marketing knowledge. The best part is that I’ve never been disappointed in a purchase. Why? Because influencers add value through their recommendations by showcasing the how and the why behind these products. They don’t simply tell you to buy something – they show you why. They show you how it’s improved their lives. They interact with the product right in front of you. It’s like reading an Amazon review except it’s by someone you know, who you’ve watched (usually for months), and who often does at least one live, thorough demonstration of the product. It always feels more reliable to me when they not only talk about products they make or are sponsored by but that they just enjoy in everyday life, too.

These four qualities are why we follow influencers, and they lay the foundation for how you should also create your marketing content. Content is a process these days – you no longer work for months on a single ad and then just let it live out there in the world, unresponsive to comment, suggestion, and question. Our content needs to be living and breathing; we need to constantly engage with our audiences directly and in their time and space. Conversation marketing is successful marketing.

Do you follow any influencers who are engaging? Let me know in the comments so I can check them out for inspiration!

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to give it a thumbs up to let me know to make more blog posts like this 😉

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