Welcome to the first post in the Featured Bloggers series!
I hope you enjoy reading Chloe’s absolutely captivating and wonderfully informative analysis of the evergrowing trend that has founded an entire new career – the influencer.
As a psychology graduate, I knew Chloe would write an incredible piece with an insight into the psychological effects of the industry (and society) that we’re navigating everyday.
I’m Chloe and I blog at www.chloexlizabeth.com. It’s a pleasure to meet ya’ll! I blog about all things fashion, lifestyle and mental health over on my blog.
As a psychology graduate, I wanted to talk about something very cool, and very exciting.
What exactly is it that makes influencers so influential?
Sometimes, all it takes these days is for a blogger to include a new bag on their timeline for us to decide we want it. We see a super Instagrammable breakfast on someone’s feed and we’re suddenly craving avocado – even though we don’t like them!
The influencer trend can be somewhat likened to that of celebrities. When a celebrity has an expertise (e.g. acting/singing/performing) we begin to believe that said individual is perfect in all other areas of their life (and this is known as the halo effect). So we all know how perfect Harry Styles is in every single area of his life – his perfect singing voice, perfect hair, perfect attitude to his friends and family, perfect brain. And all derived from his perfect voice (I’m sure this will be debated; but you can see how irrational it is to jump from one to the next!).
The notable difference between social media influencers and celebrities, though, is that influencers are considered to be much more ‘normal’ people. Similar to us.
I think we’ve all heard a YouTuber crying because they have reached a million followers, and then saying ‘Oh, but I’m just a normal person!’ haven’t we?
This is key.
When we see an influencer as being similar to us and therefore being part of the same ‘group’, we are more likely to believe that influencers’ opinions are correct. This is based on social identity theory.
Additionally, have you ever wondered why an individual’s following can suddenly start off small and gradually skyrocket? When we, as bloggers, have a niche, we become a representation of that niche and it is almost presumed that we have a level of expertise. For example, if Ella’s Kitchen were to advertise a food blender, we’d be much more likely to trust the product if Zoella were to do the same campaign.
The size of an individual’s following also impacts our response to them, as if we see other individuals supporting a blogger, we are more likely to believe that they are a credible blogger. So, basically, the more comments and interaction you have on your blog – the better. This is because individuals who have never seen your blog will have a look and essentially think… ‘Oooh, if all of these people like this blogger. They must be great!’, and then they’ll likely tap the follow button.
The latter theory that I’ve researched for this post is one that I’m not personally a fan of: good old attractiveness bias.
Of course, I don’t want to totally obliterate the theory, because it is often a subconscious process that we don’t even realise we are using. We prefer looking at individuals who are attractive, and therefore we have a greater liking for the clothes that they wear, the brands they promote and the words that they speak.
I think it’s really important to point out that research is rarely conclusive. There is no clear, set in stone answer as to what makes an individual so influential, but it is likely to be impacted by a multitude of factors mentioned above, and these may be strengthened or weakened by environmental factors. But, at least we all know how to become more influential bloggers, according to the literature!
photos by Nati