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When working with micro-influencers, younger brands should use caution | WARC | The Feed

Newer brands should exercise caution with micro-influencers

Newer brands should exercise caution with micro-influencers

Influencers, Creators, KOLs Strategy

When a micro-influencer endorses a product on social media, consumers are likely to make judgments that can be more damaging for newer brands than those more firmly established, according to new research.

The study examined how a micro-influencer’s social media profile and activity has an effect on a brand’s personality when they post promotional brand content, whether it’s sponsored or not. 

Why brand personality matters

Brands with established personalities can use this to build trust with consumers and to differentiate themselves from competitors. It has also been shown to have a positive effect on loyalty and purchases. But managing a brand’s image or personality is becoming more challenging because of the rise of micro-influencers who share brand content on social media platforms. While this can be beneficial, brand managers need to be aware of the consequences, particularly on consumer perceptions, when they have little control over the activity. 

  • A brand’s personality can be inferred from, compared to, or corroborated by micro-influencers and this can be both positive and negative.
  • That’s because consumers make judgments based on micro-influencers’ pictures, activity and posts and this affects what they think about brands appearing in adjacent or promotional content.
  • If a micro-influencer is perceived to be exciting, for example, a novice brand will also be perceived to be exciting; but the converse is also true: the brand can be judged to be dull if the micro-influencer is thought to be dull. 
  • When a micro-influencer’s personality doesn’t match a brand’s perceived personality, consumers will reject the parts that don’t fit – but this mostly applies to brands that are more established and fixed in their mind. 
  • As a result, newer brands with less of a fixed image are more likely to be ascribed undesirable personalities inferred from micro-influencers, especially with unprompted endorsements. 
  • Brand personality exerts a positive and ‘significant’ effect on purchase intentions when people identify with that personality. 
Key quote 

“Brand personality can be influenced both positively and negatively by micro-influencers, and firms must give more thought to all possible consequences as consumers spend substantial amounts of time on social media and become exposed to different micro-influencers” – study authors, How Micro-Influencers’ Personality Influences the Personality of Novice and Established Brands.

About the study

Pilot studies were conducted to select the influencer personalities (exciting v sincere v control group) and the brands (KIA – less salient personality / Ferrari – exciting / Mercedes Benz – sincere). These were incorporated into influencers’ profiles and displayed in the right-hand corner. 

Study one examined the effect of micro-influencers on brands that have less salient personalities (novice brands) with 165 participants recruited from German universities. Study two examined the effect of micro-influencers on brands that have salient (more established) personalities. In total, 274 participants were recruited, also students from various German universities. 

Sourced from Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy


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