Good influencer marketing can really get inside customers’ heads and hearts. Every marketing professional has a truckload of tactics they can use to build an effective influencer marketing strategy.
When done well, these tactics can trigger our emotional buying habits.
We may try to deny it but we’re often powerless against it – our purchasing decisions are often controlled by our emotions.
By using emotional triggers that influence our consumer choices, brands succeed in selling us things, whether we need them or not. We don’t consider all the available information and end up making emotional decisions rather than rational ones.
Why are influencers so valuable for brands when it comes to emotional buying decisions? Influencer marketing strategies can trigger emotional buying motives by transmitting emotional messages and humanizing brands. Influencers convey different principles of persuasion (liking, authority, reciprocity) that consumers use as shortcuts to make a decision.
We buy stuff by following recommendations from folks we like (influencers) or authoritative people we trust (key opinion leaders, or KOLs).
Reciprocity is an effective influencing strategy that can be triggered when an influencer offers a promotion code. From a behavioral psychologist’s perspective, the effect of giving (promotion code by the influencer) and taking (using code by the consumer) has long been used in marketing to create loyal customers.
We have talked at length about the differences between emotional and rational purchases here.
In this post, we’ll dig deeper into the emotional buying motives of consumers. We’ll also get practical, looking at how emotions can be triggered by different tactics in your overall influencer marketing strategy.
By adding tactics like story takeovers, unboxing, and many more to their influencer marketing strategy, brands can influence their customers’ buying motivations.
Emotional triggers can help brands create awareness, grow their audience, and drive sales. So if you’re planning an influencer marketing campaign for your brand, you’ll need to understand these tactics and how they can help you reach your goals.
6 Instagram tactics for your influencer marketing strategy
With so many different influencer marketing tactics, it can be hard to know which to choose for your campaign. It turns out that certain tactics are best suited for specific emotional buying motives. Below, we’ll take a look at six different tactics that brands can use to trigger emotional buying motives.
1. Sponsored postings and mentions
Let’s start with a common tactic in influencer marketing. Every brand that implements influencers in their marketing strategy has used sponsored postings and social media mentions at some point. They’re a surefire way for brands to spread awareness by getting sponsored content to different audiences.
What’s the emotional trigger? Trust.
Trust is the main emotional buying motive for consumers in this context. People tend to prefer the things that they are exposed to more often. This is partly because humans perceive things that are familiar as trustworthy. The Mere Exposure Effect goes some way towards explaining this phenomenon. Discovered by social psychologist Robert Zajonc in the late ’60s, the theory claims that when people are repeatedly exposed to something, they will develop a preference for it over time.
This means that a brand can trigger an emotional preference by sharing several postings among the same audience on a regular basis. This is yet another argument for an influencer marketing strategy based on building relationships instead of quick one-offs.
An additional benefit is that this tactic is basically an energy exchange in the social media and influencer ecosystem. One person (the influencer) talks about something interesting and passes it along to another social media user (the consumer and follower). The follower reacts to the insight by liking the content or leaving a comment. So begins the magic of viral marketing as other users become aware of the content.
2. Storytelling through captions
Personal stories that convey strong emotions strengthen this connection. A great example is jewelry startup Melou. The brand works with influencers who often share personal stories, such as love stories, that many consumers can relate to.
What’s the emotional trigger? Experience.
Joe Pine, author of many books, including THE EXPERIENCE ECONOMY, and co-founder of Strategic Horizons, explains that “Melou is effectively experientializing the bracelet by associating it with the experience of the wish and the hopeful experience of its fulfillment.”
Influencers help to experientialize products for consumers.
From Pine’s perspective, we live in an experience economy and social media is the primary way that we share those experiences. Part of what the consumer buys in the experience economy is the ability and right to share the experience. Melou is creating a social media channel and a community of influencers that encourage story-telling and experience-sharing.
“In relation to the experience economy, people can imbue emotions into their bracelet because of the wish,” Pine adds.
3. Instagram Story Takeovers
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom has said that “stories lower the bar for sharing all types of photos and video,” so sharing real-life experiences has become more casual. This is what makes stories so attractive for brands and influencers. Influencers who take over a story are likely to attract their own followers to the brand’s account — at least while they are in charge of the channel. This way brands can grow their own audience and attract awareness to their channel.
What’s the emotional trigger? Accessability.
Influencers take followers on a journey with Instagram stories. The audience feels like it is participating in the experience the influencer shares. With stories, influencers can trigger the feeling of being part of something special. This ties into the psychology of shared experiences. Telling someone about an event makes it even more enjoyable — this explains why more than 250 million people use Instagram stories every day. We enjoy ourselves more if we share what we experience.
Story Takeovers are beneficial in two ways. First, the brand can strengthen its relationship with influencers, who feel joy while sharing their story. So, Story Takeovers are great for building partnerships with a 50/50 value exchange between influencer and brand. Second, the positive energy transfers to the audience who trusts the influencers.
Following the psychological concept, it’s said that shared experiences enhance the feelings of closeness between two individuals. Here, this applies in three ways: closeness between brand and influencer, closeness between influencer and audience, and transferred closeness between brand and audience.
Another factor that comes into play is that – ahem – story, or narrative structure, is much easier to follow with Instagram Stories since they’re delivered organically in real time. This can lead to emotional purchasing decisions that a static and more contrived post would not be able to achieve.
Stories are a preferred Instagram feature used by many brands. Later, an Instagram scheduling software, reports that Instagram Stories are mainly used in the content creation process of businesses to promote products and services and build a more engaged community.
4. Unboxing Videos
Unboxing is another tactic often executed in stories. Influencers video themselves unpacking a new product and exploring its features. They may give a short tutorial on how to assemble or use it. In the case of unboxing, influencers are a proxy for the consumer. They try the product and raise the viewer’s confidence in making a purchase. But this tactic goes several steps deeper than you might think.
What’s the emotional trigger? Anticipation.
Unboxing videos stimulate a part of the brain that produces pleasure in the viewer. We find joy without even unwrapping the product ourselves because we share the influencers’ emotions.
Literary scholar Jonathan Gottschall would explain this phenomenon as the activity of mirror neurons. The cubelli neuron “mirrors” the behavior of others (the influencers), as though the observer (the consumer) were itself acting. When we see someone smile, we’re compelled to smile, too. When the influencer gets excited about the unboxing, the viewer gets excited as well.
5. Inviting Influencers to Brand Events
The tactics of influencer marketing go far beyond sponsored postings and product endorsement. Brands often invite influencers to their events, hoping that the influencers will talk about them on social media. Inviting several influencers to the same event is particularly valuable — for instance, the influencer extravaganza that is Coachella.
What’s the emotional trigger? Popularity.
A team of researchers compared this phenomenon to the majority illusion. This happens when influencers portray a brand or an event as being more popular than it actually is. Don’t get me wrong, Coachella is popular, but its social media mentions make it appear even bigger than it is. If several influencers talk about the same event at the same time, it strengthens the effect. This explains how some trends gain so much traction in a short period of time.
For brands like Revolve, the festival is the season that moves the needle for sales. The brand generated 4.4 billion social impressions during last year’s Coachella.
Media Metrics of Revolve‘s Instagram channel
The festival results in a sharp rise of the brand’s earned media value on Instagram due to high engagement rates. Last year’s earned media value added up to $4.5 million factoring in the week of Coachella and the week before. 2018 topped this value with more than $7.9 million.
6. Giveaways and Contests
Brands mainly use this tactic to drive conversions quickly and improve brand engagement since giveaways and contests usually include CTAs. Consumers are often asked to tag a friend with whom the product or service will be shared. This breaks the ice for a first engagement with a brand, and engagement is one of the initial steps to bonding. Even though the consumer might not win, the contest establishes an emotional connection.
Additionally, it is a surefire way to build brand awareness as each participant will tag at least one other consumer.
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What’s the emotional trigger? Winning.
Well, this might be quite obvious — who doesn’t like winning? Competition functions as another emotional buying motive. The feeling of competition drives many people and it’s triggered by giveaways and contests. Winning increases the dopamine receptors in the brain — there’s nothing we can do about it, we like to win.
Also, we love getting stuff for free. Dan Ariely says that “most transactions have an upside and a downside, but when something is free, we forget the downside.” The Duke University behavioral economics professor explains, ”’Free’ gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is.”
Don’t underestimate the power of influencer marketing — influencers can get to the core of our buying motives by triggering emotions.
Many brands take a trial-and-error approach to test which influencer marketing strategies work best for them. It’s crucial to remember to take a holistic approach. Define your brand’s goal, learn about different influencer marketing tactics, know what tactics are best for your influencer marketing strategy, and be aware of which triggers your brand’s target group might respond to.
Now that you have a clear and structured overview of all these factors, go for it! Get in to our heads!