Psychology of Influence – The Reason for the Rise of Influencer Marketing

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Have you ever donated to a charity just because your friend did? Or bought a product because your favorite star advertised it?

The fact is that most of us, at some point, have been influenced into doing things by other people. This is the psychology of influence, and it is what influencer marketing runs on.

The phenomenon of influencer marketing is not new. Using highly influential individuals to promote a product or service has been around for decades.

What has changed now is how it is carried out and the type of influencers used. The strategy today is highly personalized, and influencers are much more approachable than ever before.

If you want to reach out to influencers to promote your brand, you should write engaging outreach emails.

With more customers trusting influencers, it’s no surprise that this marketing technique has become mainstream and is being used extensively. It is the psychology of influence that has made all of this possible. So let’s take a close look at the psychology of influence and why it makes influencer marketing so effective.

The psychology of influence

The psychology of influence revolves around the concept that people can be influenced into doing things. Influence is often an unconscious act. People are not always aware of when they are influenced, which is why it works.

Many people want to be different from others but also seek a sense of belongingness. They feel secure making choices they think are popularly made by others, or that make them fit in.

People also often have a hard time making decisions. Wrong decisions can not only tarnish your image but also lead to a waste of time and resources.

Making a productive decision requires thorough research and knowledge of every aspect of your decision. However, it isn’t easy to find the time and energy for the required effort every time.

One way to avoid making a wrong decision is to follow someone else’s suggestion. People, in general, tend to go along with suggestions made by someone they consider to be a credible expert or a trusted friend.

Brands understand this psychology of influence and bring in influencers to attract and persuade their target audiences.

The psychology of influence is not a new concept, but its implications, especially in the case of influencer marketing, have changed.

The rise of influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is growing fast, with more brands realizing the potential of influencers. Below are the reasons that make it so powerful:

1. The rise of social media

Social media has a huge influence on our modern society. It is engulfing the population worldwide and at a staggering pace.

There were 2.46 billion social media users in 2017, which will rise to 3.02 billion by 2021.

Bar graph of Number of social media users worldwide from 2018 to 2027
Image via Statista

Number of social media users worldwide from 2018 to 2027 (in billions)

2017: 2.73 billion

2018: 3.10 billion

2019: 3.51 billion

2020: 3.90 billion

2021: 4.26 billion

2022: 4.59 billion

2023*: 4.89 billion

2024*: 5.17 billion

2025*: 5.42 billion

2026*: 5.64 billion

2027*: 5.85 billion

Source: Statista

Additional Information: Worldwide; Statista; 2018 to 2022

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have allowed us to share and spread ideas easily.

Previously, brands could only share product information through their company websites. But social media platforms have given brands a new and better channel to provide product info and drive customer engagement.

As for consumers, these platforms have drastically changed the way they consume content and interact with each other. Now they can nurture social connections and access as much information as they want.

2. Traditional marketing methods are losing their shine

A traditional ad attempts to convince people to buy through mediums such as radio, billboards, or television commercials.

However, with people spending an increasing amount of time on digital channels, the popularity of traditional advertising is declining fast.

One of the reasons for the impressive growth of influencer marketing is the necessity for brands to regain consumers’ trust. Consumers, especially millennials, do not trust brands or celebrity endorsements anymore.

Apart from this, businesses find these traditional advertising methods quite expensive and time-consuming. And there is no proper method to measure the results of your traditional marketing campaigns.

Since the influence of these traditional methods on customers is constantly decreasing, businesses are focusing their efforts on digital advertising.

3. It helps maximize brand reach

In today’s oversaturated advertising market, consumers crave a more genuine and trustworthy voice. Influencer marketing is the best way to leverage the psychology of influence and persuade customers with voices they know and trust.

Influencers are people who, through their hard work and passion, have built a reputation for their expertise. These influencers have a sizeable and trusted network of engaged fans and followers.

Based on this trust, influencers can create trends and influence the buying decisions of their followers.

For businesses, the cut-throat competition has made it difficult for them to reach their customers directly. Therefore, they use the psychology of influence to connect and engage with their audience.

With their massive influence, influencers help these businesses reach a much wider audience base.

For example, in 2017, the Australian food company, Youfoodz, ran an influencer campaign to launch their winter menu. They collaborated with 81 influencers who created 167 pieces of content.

The campaign garnered over 500k impressions and 70,000 direct engagements. The total reach of the campaign was 1.5 million people.

Here is one such post:

Influencer marketing helped the brand reach people they could not have reached alone.

4. It is an affordable marketing technique

According to Experticity, 82% of consumers will most likely follow the recommendations from a micro influencer.

Circle graph indicating 82% of consumers "highly likely" to follow a recommendation made by an influencer
Image via Experticity

Though micro influencers have a small number of followers, they are easier to approach. Their following is more intimate and better engaged.

Micro influencers can be far more influential than macro influencers and are perceived as more genuine. Their promotions don’t appear as advertising and look more like they are sharing useful information. Therefore, the psychology of influence works better with micro influencers.

These micro influencers with highly engaged audiences charge much less than popular macro-influencers. In fact, brands can work with micro-influencers for as low as $75 per post.

The affordability of these micro influencers has made it possible for even small businesses with tight budgets to use influencer marketing.

5. Influencer marketing delivers results

Influencer marketing is the fastest way to acquire customers today. Because of the various benefits (listed below) that it offers to the brands, the strategy is growing at a tremendous pace.

  • Through the psychology of influence, influencers can impact the purchase decisions of consumers of all ages. Influencer marketing is the most effective way to reach the critical millennial and Gen Z audience. Around 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers say that they trust influencer opinions over traditional celebrities.
  • It is the most effective way to target and reach your target audience. Brands can segment their audiences and use the psychology of influence by choosing appropriate influencers.
  • Influencer marketing can greatly expand your reach and positioning online and generates considerable brand awareness.
  • Many businesses can get better returns from influencer marketing, including large corporations and new startups.
  • Many influencers are active on multiple social media platforms. Influencer marketing help brands reach audiences across all of these platforms.

Why does the psychology of influence work?

Now that we have established that influencer marketing is based on the psychology of influence and is on the rise, let’s dive deeper into the technical reasons why it works.

What are the components of the psychology of influence? How exactly does it sway people to make purchase decisions?

Social proof

The first and foremost reason the psychology of influence, especially in influencer marketing, works is that it provides social proof. It means that people think that if everyone is doing something, it must be right.

A lot of people make purchase decisions if a brand provides social proof. And leveraging a trustworthy micro-influencer to promote your product is one of the best ways to provide social proof.


Another reason why the psychology of influence works is because of the concept of authority. We all have been trained to listen to the advice of experts and believe it to be true.

So, if a brand leverages industry experts and authority figures, people tend to accept their recommendations without questioning them. This is one of the key reasons why influencer marketing, especially when it involves industry experts, is so effective.


This is based on the concept that people tend to follow the people they like. If someone you like or idealize recommends a product, you are more likely to buy it. It is just as simple as that.

Due to the reasons stated above, influencer marketing is an effective technique that can sway consumers to buy certain products.


Businesses have used the psychology of influence to gain customers for decades.

Influencer marketing is a brilliant example of how brands can apply the psychology of influence to influence people to buy their products. This concept makes influencer marketing so effective and is the key to its rising popularity.

The first step to building your program is getting your roster of influencers, and to do that, you need to contact them via email (or DM). But here’s the deal—some outreach emails are more effective than others!

Learn more about influencer marketing: Influencer Marketing 101

Updated: July 2023

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Written by GRIN Contributor

GRIN is the pioneer behind the world’s first Creator Management platform built to support every brand’s journey to connecting with consumers through authentic creator relationships. Thousands of the world’s fastest-growing brands—including SKIMS, Warby Parker, Allbirds, Mejuri, and MVMT—use GRIN to make creators feel like trusted, empowered partners and work with them to build their brands into household names.

© Grin Technologies Inc. 2024. All rights reserved.

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