Influence vs. credibility and how each user matters
In a world full of YouTubers, Instagramers and TikTokers, the term ‘influencer’ is common knowledge. Although technology and social networks are responsible for making the term popular, the truth is that influencers have existed since the early days of human existence.
Let's think about Cleopatra, Madame Curie and… why not, also Lady Gaga. All three have something in common: they have all managed to be publicly recognized. And it is precisely that public recognition, in addition to their efforts and successes throughout their career, that gives them a certain capacity for influence. Their opinions in the field of politics, science, or music have undoubtedly inspired and influenced many throughout history.
Being known, therefore, is the intrinsic characteristic of the influencer. But does having a lot of influence also give you credibility? Big celebrities help brands reach large audiences and benefit from the values that the celebrity represents. This is undoubtedly a well-known, efficient, and validated marketing strategy. But when the marketing goal is not to reach the masses, but to achieve a certain recognition based on credibility, the power is not held by the big Hollywood stars, but rather… by the most ordinary human beings.
Let's think of someone who is considering buying a car or studying for a master's degree. These are decisions of weight and relevant economic outlay. It is likely that this person has received various messages from car brands or universities through mass channels. On many occasions, these messages are reinforced by big celebrities such as sports stars or renowned journalists, but the truth is that the purchase decision is rarely based on these advertising impacts alone.
The majority of people who want to make a big decision do the research for themselves. They might call the dealership, visit the university, or browse the internet in search of opinions from other users or small influencers. By doing this they find messages from smaller, yet more credible sources. A dealership salesperson is considered an expert in the motor world and would offer valuable insight. Likewise, the opinions of an internet micro-influencer, who has experienced driving the buyer’s dream vehicle, would be of great help when comparing that model or brand against others.
On the one hand, the influence of large celebrities is diminishing, while on the other hand, the credibility of a brand holds more merit. The last piece of the puzzle, however, is our friends and family.
Influence can be important within our small circles of acquaintances, which is why credibility gains prominence. We rarely question the experience someone has had with a brand, product, or service—especially when we have a close relationship with them. If our brother told us that his experience with a master's program was not what he expected, all the knowledge, prestige, and consideration upheld for that university would collapse like a house of cards. The same might happen if a friend told us that his new car was giving him problems only two years after buying it or that the post-sales service was not what he expected.
These are totally subjective opinions and experiences that carry a significant weight in our decision making. That is why we must never forget that an influencer marketing strategy will be incomplete if, beyond celebrities, YouTubers, or TikTokers, we do not take care of each of our client's experiences. We never know whose brothers they are.
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