Feel the Influence

Instagram influencers are taking on the world, thanks to the reciprocity principle.


800 million. That figure was Instagram’s total number of active monthly users as of the end of 2017. Of that number, 500 million were active on a daily basis. The social media juggernaut may not have even reached double digits in terms of candles on its birthday cake, but it is obviously a force to be reckoned with, and not just for people sharing snaps of their dinners and pets. Those in branding, marketing or advertising have been taking notice.

Not convinced? In March 2017, Instagram’s own internal data shared that 80% of Instagrammers follow at least one business. The key is to skip the hard sell and simply offer a fantastic image that illustrates what the trends are in your business and how your products fit in. And then there is giving something back first ….

The Reciprocity Principle

Do unto others … the golden rule, when translated, actually becomes one of the basic laws of sociology—the reciprocity principle. The law finds that in most social situations, people will pay back what they have received from someone else, i.e. humans return favors.

For the everyday Instagram users this can translate to, a friend likes your post, and you feel the urge to return the favor. But what does this mean for Instagram influencers and awareness of your brand? Smart brands will give Instagram influencers their products to use and post about. For instance, if your brand is food focused, be sure foodies with lots of followers are receiving samples to try. You give a little, but you get a lot back in terms of views, shares and name recognition.

Show and Show Again

The key with Instagram is the number of eyeballs your brand’s posts garner. The more people who see your posts, the more awareness your brand receives. That’s another reason why influencers are so important. Influential Instagrammers are defined as those with more than 100,000 Instagram followers, but they can have millions. The fields of fashion, makeup, food and travel are particularly big on the social media app. But even influencers with only tens of thousands of followers can be a great way for a brand to target a niche audience. The influencer marketing agency Mediakix recently told CNBC that Instagram’s influencer market was worth $1 billion, and that this market would double by 2019.

Pique Photos

Why does it work so well? Many of us base our buying choices on our emotions, whether we realize it or not. Influencers serve to humanize a brand, in addition to being perceived as an authority in a certain area. When consumers see influencers they trust like or recommend a product, it moves the consumer along in their decision-making process.

All of this taps into the emotional side of how many of us make purchases. Instagram offers a variety of marketing influencer tactics that can be used to trigger emotional purchases, from sponsored posts that play off the trust established with brands a consumer sees frequently to inviting influencers to your brand’s event so they will talk about it and build up the popularity of the brand or event. The images pique the consumer’s interest, making an event or product seem even bigger and more in demand and, ultimately, creating a trend or boosting an existing one.