The Science Behind Effective Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing delivers results

On average, businesses generate $6.50 for every dollar invested in influencer marketing and 51% of marketers found that customers acquired through influencers were of higher quality than their average customers. It’s no wonder 75% of marketers today use some form of influencer marketing.

However, there is still a major misconception that bigger is better in influencer marketing. Brands and marketers often try to land celebrities or well-known “mega influencers” like Michelle Phan or Zoella, unaware that “power-middle” influencers (those with followings between 10,000 and 250,000) are more likely to influence an action or purchase decision. In fact, a recent study found 82% of respondents are highly likely to follow a recommendation from a power-middle influencer. Power-middle influencers are so effective because they’ve cultivated a level of trust with their online communities.

But how, exactly, does this trust develop?

The answer can be found in storytelling, and more specifically, the effects that stories have on the human brain. At the core of all influencer content is a great story, one that often leverages the influencer’s personal life experiences or candid opinions to create an emotional connection with the reader. According to multiple sources, neuroscience has proven that reading or listening to a well-told story affects the brain in measurable and observable ways, including:

  • Neural Coupling. Neural coupling occurs when neurons are activated, allowing you to see a story from your own perspective, which makes you feel as if you are experiencing it as well. If you’ve ever been “caught up in the story,” you’ve felt the effects of neural coupling.
  • Mirroring. The audience’s brain waves will mirror the influencer’s when listening to or reading a story. The mirrored activity results in identical patterns of brain activity, taking the audience through the same journey as the influencer and enabling a feeling of familiarity.
  • Broca’s area. Two specific areas of the brain activate during storytelling that give receivers the experience of telling the story themselves. While one part of the brain processes the influencer’s speech, Broca’s area, the part of the brain that processes our own speech, is also activated as though the reader is the person speaking.
  • Dopamine. When a story elicits emotions from the reader, the brain releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This chemical is responsible for feelings of pleasure and also makes it easier to remember details of a story with greater accuracy. As a result, stories that fill the audience with emotion are remembered long after they have been consumed.

During quality storytelling, all of these functions interact to make an audience feel as if they have experienced the influencer’s stories themselves. When combined with the pleasurable, memorable feelings from a dopamine reaction, the result is a persuasive emotional connection that can be leveraged to motivate people to take an action.

Tips for Effective Storytelling

Anyone can tell a story, but there’s a science to telling a great story. Here are a few tips, backed by other neuroscience findings, that you can use to create your own highly influential content:

  • Include emotion. Recently, neurobiologists at MIT have discovered that the reasoning portion of the brain cannot function without emotion involved. Your content should provoke readers’ emotions if you want them to make a decision or form an opinion.
  • Use images. The human brain processes images 60 times faster than words. For more impactful and shareable content, remember to also show, not just tell.
  • Get to the point. The average person consumes 100,500 digital words a day, and as a result the human attention span has shrunk to around four seconds. Keep your titles and opening paragraphs snappy and short to capture (and hold!) a reader’s attention.

An influencer’s power of persuasion lies in the strength of his or her content and the emotional connections readers feel after experiencing it. We set a higher bar for our influencers than most influencer marketing platforms and only accept those who have proven a mastery of storytelling, delivering true influence for our brand and agency customers. For more information about how Linqia can help establish a strong emotional connection between your brand and your target audience, contact us to schedule a time to chat.

June brought Cannes, VidCon, a slew of Instagram and TikTok release including AI avatars,