According to Proctor (2000), there is an increasing number of on-line purchases made everyday as social media consumption hits the mainstream. Consumers are sharing more of themselves, discussing new products they bought and influencing each other on-line. This shift in people's web behaviour induces marketers to engage with their customers across whole new social media platforms such as twitter, facebook and LinkedIn. Brand can not push itself any longer and traditional marketing is losing its glory. All these changes give rise to a whole new form of marketing called social influence marketing which is seeing great potential in this world where actions speak louder than advertising. This report will give a brief introduction of what the social influence marketing and social influencers are about, then explaining how markers use this new marketing method to develop their businesses, and finally discuss the benefits of social influence marketing after comparing with more traditional marketing.
2.1 What is social influence marketing?
"Social influence marketing is a technique that employs social media and social influencers to achieve an organization's marketing and business needs" (Singh, 2009, p.10) Social media is the content created by people using web-based technologies such as microblogs, social networks, or podcasts. Influencers are everyday people with greater peer influence depending on how much content they share on the Internet. In conclusion, social influence marketing is about recognizing, accounting, explore the fact that potential customer is being affected by various circles of people around him via conversation with them on-line, when he or she is making a buying decision. (ibid.)
2.2 What are the social influencers?
According to Singh (2009, p.13-14), social influencers can be divided into three categories: referent influencers, expert influencers and peer influencers.
2.2.1 Referent influencer
Referent influencers, according to Singh (2009) are people who participate on their social platform. Typically, these people are active participants in a consumer's "social graph" and they have a considerable influence on "brand affinity" and "purchasing decisions" by constantly commenting on blogs and forums and updating their status or twitter feeds on-line. Since customers trust and know their referent influencers, they are confident that their advisers are also scrupulous and honest. As a result, potential buyers value referent influencers' advice over other people. In this case, according to Singn (2009) , reference influencers influence purchasing behaviour more than any other factors at the consideration phase of the 'marketing funnel'.
2.2.2 Expert influencer
It is the expert influencer whom a consumer would normally turn to when he or she is mulling over a "high-consideration purchase".
'An expert influencer is an authority on the product that the consumer is considering purchasing. Also called key influencers, they typically have their own blogs, huge twitter followers, and rarely know their audiences personally.' (Singh, 2009, p.13)
2.2.3 Peer influencer
The peer influencer, according to Shirky (2008) is also called positional influencer. This type of influencers has a greater impact on "brand affinity" and "purchasing decisions" than traditional marketers as the popularity of Web 2.0 grows. Moreover, these peer influencers are mainly family members or close friends to the potential buyers.
According to Singh (2009), the motivation to share is at the root of peer influence. People share on-line when they are either encouraged by incentives or because there exists potential for personal value to be realized. In another word, once a person is able to obtain a great amount of personal interests from a particular experience, the incentive to share it increases...