Did Your Influencer Just Become a Celebrity?

Social Influencers Strategy Mistake

You can’t turn around in marketing today without hearing someone or some company talking about Influencer Marketing. It seems every company wants to figure out how to leverage an influencer marketing strategy to grow their brand and sales. But from what I’ve seen, more are doing it wrong than right and new research suggests new perils that no one is even considering.

Consumers Admit They Are Influenced by Influencers

Well, that’s not exactly correct. Let’s look at two recent studies. First, a Deloitte study certainly supports the “online influencers influence” theory.  According to their numbers, consumers 14+ indicated an “online review by someone you do not know” was the fourth most influential channel (52% of consumers said the channel influenced their buying decision).

A second report, from Collective Bias, supports the Deloitte numbers. In it, 70% of adults aged 18-34 said their highest preference was for an endorsement from a “peer” or non-celebrity blogger. Overall the number dropped, but was still significant at 30%.

Where Celebrity Influence Fails

What strikes me as a huge blind spot in most companies’ influencer marketing strategies though is the story neither report is telling. The story where online influencers can crossover from non-celebrity to celebrity and the negative effect that has on their influence.

Let’s go back to the numbers in the report.

First, the Collective Bias report. It states that only “3% of consumers would consider buying a product in-store if it was endorsed by a celebrity.”

Here again, the Deloitte study correlates that data. Deloitte’s data reports that only 30% of consumers agree that an “endorsement from a celebrity” would sway their purchase decision.

BUT, here is where it gets interesting.

That same study, in fact the very same question, reports that only 30% (the same amount) felt that an “endorsement from an online personality” would influence their purchase decision. To be fair, that number goes up for the Millennials (see blue boxes below) but both endorsements fall into the bottom third in terms of impact on purchase decision.

Deloitte Study Influencer Marketing Statistics


This study suggests that today’s modern consumer doesn’t distinguish between online and traditional celebrity. In other words, internet fame is just as bad as traditional fame — at least in terms of ability to influence purchase.

When Does An Influencer Become a Celebrity?

Well ain’t that the $64,000 question (and that’s if you hire a cheap influencer marketing agency).

And that is the peril that no one is talking about. Traditionally, celebrity was a moniker reserved for famous people — usually actors, musicians and the like. But in today’s anyone can be a publisher world, the ability to achieve celebrity isn’t reserved for those with access to the controlled channels or the celebrity makers (tv, music and publishing studios).

So the question is, at what point does anyone, internet- or traditional famous, traverse from non-celeb to celeb status in the mind of your consumer?

If you look at how pretty much everyone is approaching Influencer Marketing, it’s clear that no one is considering this nuanced difference. But studies like the one from Deloitte (and I’d argue the Collective Bias study supports this too) suggest to me that consumers perceive a difference between bloggers and celeb bloggers. They view normal Instagramers and famous Instagramers differently. And that difference has a huge impact on that blogger’s ability to persuade consumers towards your brand.

Trying To Figure Out Influencer Marketing?

If your company is trying to figure out its influencer marketing strategy (or whether you even need one)…. we’d love to help. We specialize in helping companies develop their digital strategy and understand how they can turn conversations into customers.

Just drop me a line and I’ll follow up with you.


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About Tom Martin

Tom is 25+ year veteran of the sales & marketing industry with a penchant for stiff drinks, good debates and showing companies how to Sell Greatly, and turn conversations into customers. He is the founder of Converse Digital , author of The Invisible Sale and a contributing writer for Advertising Age. Tom guides clients through the digital sales & marketing maze and helps companies teach their sales force how to Painlessly Prospect their way to more sales. Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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