…why do influencers affect our daily choices and daily lives?
This piece was written by one of our contributors; business mentor, published author and influencer-specialist – Fab Giovanetti.
“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire teammates and customers.”Robin S. Sharma
I will be honest, I am a sucker for a good quote. Especially when it’s one that encapsulates how I feel about persuasion, influence and leadership – all big words, I know!
Persuasion is one of the words that have been associated to marketing since, pretty much, day one, and with good reason.
Is persuasion really a bad thing?
Persuasion does get a bad rep, but it is objectively the next logical step to be taken into account after influence takes place. Let’s use a topical example to show where persuasion falls into our daily routine, shall we?
Let’s say you want to buy some nut butter, and whilst scrolling on Instagram on a tea break, you come across a post from one of your favourite influencers. The post is talking about how you can make the most delicious porridge with that very specific brand. The visual element of that post (the doll drop of nut butter sitting in the porridge) is what you’d call “the hook”, but the persuasive element is the mix of the images and the wording through which our influencer sings the praises of the products.
Persuasion is still pretty much about what you want to achieve, rather a genuine way to help others take actions to benefit their own needs – by reframing the idea of persuasion as part of the process of recommending something that can benefit a wider audience, we can clearly see that brands like Trip Advisor and AirBnb have been built on this model.
Business owners and personal brands like influencers easily persuade an individual to take action. This is part of what they do because of a product they sell, or a mission they believe in.
Take an influencer like, well, our lovely Hazel for example. She wants her audience to be healthier, create better habits, and better understand how they can take control of their wellbeing by providing information.
This is where I believe the whole system is changing – more and more influencers are holding each other accountable to make sure they use this power for good.
The choice of the word power comes from the very famous Spiderman quote “with great power, comes great responsibility”. New organisations like the Register of Health and Wellness Influencers also created clear regulations via releasing standards and code of conduct for health and wellness influencers to follow when sharing their content.
The truth is, if we do not work on transparency and gaining the consumers’ trust, then our effort to positively persuade our audience to embrace positive habits is not going to work alone.
How are we getting persuaded?
Influence is at the core of being human, nevertheless, harnessing our influence and channeling into inspiring a positive change is a conscious choice that requires habits to be developed.
We are influenced by peers and strangers hundreds of times each day. Due to social networks and our new way of consuming and digesting news the choice is diluted, and clarity has been slightly compromised.
We’re influenced by others in everything we do, even if we’re not aware of it. From imitating someone word for word, to doing the exact opposite of someone else just to be different, others are always guiding our actions. Underneath it all, it’s all about the simple, subtle ways that others affect our behaviour.
The good news is, the more we understand this influence, the better we can handle it and simply accept it as part of who we are. We are made to be influenced, so much so that influence is constellating the world around us.
To borrow Jonah Berger’s words: “just like atoms bouncing off each other, our social interactions are constantly shaping who we are and what we do.” (Jonah Berger, Invisible Influence: the hidden forces that shape behaviour)
Here’s three things that get our attention and push us to take action (whether it’s booking a holiday, buying a product or a book):
Just to elaborate on those, if you were to head to Instagram to spot them, you would differentiate them as such:
MOTIVATION: something that can prove a visual or clear benefit when taking a specific action – which can be clearly seen in ‘before and after’ photos. My favourite examples though are the ones that encourage the audience to take a challenge, like this amazing movement from Chessie King.
INSPIRATION: this is slightly different, as I can see that a lot in posts with a longer caption, that usually refers to a personal story or episode and with a clear learning message – you can check this post about the way I go about my Monday routine as an example.
EDUCATION: Education does not have to be preachy. Something that educates us, informs us and allows us to think and question our beliefs is quite common these days. Our very own Hazel is a master at this, as well as the lovely Lucy from @thefashionfitnessfoodie
As you can see, there is no secret weapon – persuasion comes from our need to be influenced, and influencers are great at persuading because their content is set to either motivate us, inspire us or educate us.
I do believe that changing the way we perceive influencers, and legitimising their hard work is something I strongly believe in – and this is why I co-founded ROHWI. We are working towards having ‘health and wellness influencer’ registered as a protected term in an effort to provide clear public guidance on who is and is not a trustworthy source.
I want people to feel proud to be an influencer, and be fully aware of the amazing impact they can have in other people’s lives. If I can do that, my job is done!