Maven Sales Group Blog

Do We Still Trust In Peer Referrals and Social Influencers?

10/28/19 5:18 PM / by Shannon Fletcher

Trust. It isn't something that goes hand-in-hand with social media. From the way that photos are altered, to the content showing people "living their best lives," to the shade that is casually tossed around like a beach volleyball in the comments section, social media is a distant cousin to trust. Yet, the influencer market continues to exist. 

What Are Social Media Influencers?

As their name suggests, social media influencers are people who have an established expertise on a specific type of product, service, or industry. They are the gate keepers to recognized referrals, and are one of the ways that brands reach their target buyers. The challenge, of course, is that influencers are human, which means that they are going to make costly mistakes. Unfortunately, when the influencer makes the mistake, they fall from grace, and the rest of the human followers begin their search for the next trusted expert. 

In many ways social media influencers create a lemming society. According to a recent HubSpot report, 62 percent of consumers rely on reviews, while a whopping 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchased based on social media referrals. These figures highlight just how vital social media influencers are to not only generating buzz about brands, products, and services, but to also increasing sales. Even when social media influencers fall from grace, the general belief is that peer reviews can and should be trusted. 

Why Are Peer Referrals So Powerful? 

Humans are many things in life; however, across cultures we cannot get away from our basic pack animal instinct. We thrive on forming social groups. From the time that we are wee tots heading out to the playground, to the battleground of high school, to workplace politics, and eventually retirement communities, we are constantly shaping and re-shaping our social groups. Social media understands this mentality and thrives on it. 

Social media creates a platform where we can easily meet and connect with people and brands that will strengthen our social group. This ability to connect succinctly leads us to the three C's of social media for businesses. 

  • Communication. -- Text, image, or video, communication is key to social media success. 
  • Connection. -- As soon as you post or comment you are placing communications out into the world. 
  • Community -- Through communications and connections you can form a community of brand followers. 

Through engaging and informative content brands can communicate, connect, and form a community with their intended social media audience. However, there is a word of caution. More than 40 percent of consumers use ad-blockers and 67 percent of consumers don't trust traditional advertisements. With these statistics in mind, brands must be careful not to simply use social media to sell. Instead, they must remember that 93 percent of customers are likely to make repeat purchases from companies who not only provide excellent customer service, but also respond to their needs. 

How To Leverage The Power Of Peer Reviews And Social Influencers

The key to successfully using peer reviews and social influencers lies in authenticity. No one wants to see a pregnant influencer touting the 'amazing prowess' of a weight loss coffee. A) that's just poor pregnancy etiquette, and b) it puts the influencer's trustworthiness into question. Fortunately, there is an easy way to avoid the latter faux pas and it can be found in the simple phrase, "the truth will set you free."

A few years ago customer experience stories were all the rage. Unfortunately, as a collective whole, brands went a bit too far. They turned these real reviews from real people into fake advertisements. Much like a quote that is taken out of context, the authenticity of customer experience stories was lost. Authentic peer reviews and social influencers are working to change their story before they become like the ghosts of customer experience marketing messages past. 

The social influencer market became flooded in the past couple of years as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok all reached new heights of fame. The challenge is that one too many influencers gave in to the pressures of selling for brands. Instead of providing real reviews, they casually took their paychecks, forgot they were pregnant and said "this diet coffee is amazing." Fortunately, consumers are smart, they are well-researched, and most importantly they don't like being lied to. The backlash was as inevitable as it was preventable.

Brands should have learned from the challenges they faced when they flooded the market with casually scripted customer experience stories. The good news is that with time, consumers have once more gained trust in peer reviews and social influencers. To keep this trust, brands should implement the following tips. 

  1. Choose social media influencers who are connected within the industry. Gone are the days when a celebrity who knows nothing about marketing can make a recommendation for a CRM. Instead, consumers want to use the wide reach of social media to find and learn from industry experts. 
  2. Make sure that the influencers have the knowledge needed to provide expert advice and insights. Customers use reviews and recommendations as a chance to learn more about a brand's products or services during their research phase. When the majority of customers research more than one company, reviews can and should provide the expert insights needed to make a decision. 
  3. Ensure that peer reviews aren't always focused on the positive attributes of your products or services. While this might seem contradictory to selling, the truth is that less than ideal peer reviews prevent a great opportunity for a 'lessons learned case study.' In other words, reviews should be all encompassing if you want them to remain authentic. 

As seen through the above three tips, the key to leveraging the full potential of peer reviews and social influencers lies in painting a full and authentic picture. 

Maven Sales Group Is Here To Help

It's no secret that social media is here to stay (at least for the foreseeable future). Social media platforms create the unique opportunity for brands to communicate, connect, and create a community with their intended audience of consumers. With this goal in mind, peer reviews and social influencers can help brands reach their intended audience with engaging, informative, and authentic content. Of course, creating the content and developing the deployment strategy are all made easier with the help of marketing experts. To discover how to use peer reviews, social influencers, and social media campaigns to your selling advantage, contact a member of the Maven Sales Group today.

Topics: social media management, SMM, social media, social media marketing, social media influencer, peer referrals

Shannon Fletcher

Written by Shannon Fletcher

Shannon is the Co-Founder and President of Maven Sales Group. Maven Sales Group is a sales enablement consulting firm and HubSpot Sales Solutions Partner. Shannon provides marketing strategy internally for Maven Sales Group as well as content, social media management, and marketing strategy for clients. Shannon is a runner and competitive mom having completed the Savage Man triathlon in 2016 and 2 half marathons prior to that and most recently the Baltimore Marathon in October of 2018. She says running and staying active is the greatest way to stay sharp creatively. Shannon lives in Lake Shore, MD with her business partner & husband and their 5 sons.

Subscribe to Email Updates

Lists by Topic

see all

Posts by Topic

see all

Recent Posts

SMM Assessment