Why are influencers perceived as credible by social media users?

In one of our earlier blog posts, we have reported on the power of digital recommendations in the form of electronic word-of-mouth product reviews. So we know that recommendations of other users in form of product reviews are relevant for consumers when making purchase decisions. In addition to that, social media channels have become an indispensable part of everyday life and are, first of all, a valuable communication tool. In fact, social networks accumulate approximately 4.2 billion active users worldwide (DataReportal, 2021). Even more important for consumer research is, that these networks are also increasingly used as a source of information for purchase decisions, as consumers believe the recommendations of other users more than advertising (Tokarski, Schellinger & Berchtold, 2017). A study (Bundesverband für Digitale Wirtschaft e.V., 2019) found, that one in five social media users has already been inspired to buy a product by an influencer, meaning opinion leaders who help companies raise awareness about their products or services. Hence, companies are increasingly integrating influencers into their marketing strategies to ultimately influence social media users. However, the challenge for companies is to select credible influencers from the high number of potential cooperation partners, as credibility is an essential aspect for the influencers’ persuasive power.

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