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Reasons Why SMI are so Persuasive

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Social Media Influencer (SMI) marketing within the corporate world is a relatively recent phenomenon. This is due to the fact that the corporate landscape has seen a seismic shift from disseminating information to their consumers predominantly through television, radio and print to the social media age characterized by various mediums such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter dominated by influencers along with personalized ads. Social media influencers have played a key role in the social media age by generating conversation, driving engagement, and setting cultural trends furthering the interests of the brands they represent. Audiences are more receptive of social media influencers than celebrities especially since influencers are relatable and authentic as well as the fact that these influencers tap into the cognitive biases that affect the corporates target audience’s consumer behaviours. Most influencers fall in the younger age group of so called millennials which a demographic that’s especially difficult for marketers.

This research was guided by the social network theory, the attribution theory and the concept of electronic word of mouth.

To help understand why SMI are so persuasive, one needs to rely on the work of Bandura, a social science theorist who stated, “In the social learning system, new patterns of behavior can be acquired through direct experience or by observing the behaviors of others.”

In addition to this, there is the concept of electronic word of mouth (eWOM) which refers to the comments of past, present or potential clients of a certain brand be it either positive or negative but relayed on the internet. eWOM inspires clients to share their experiences with others online and one of the best ways to market products is through word of mouth. This is why eWOM is effective.

It is in both the interests of the corporate as well as the influencer to keep the comments positive as well as persuading the customers to feel that the decision to purchase was their own and not out of coercion.

In any network study, participants of an organization are presented with a list of other members of the same organization after which respondents are asked to put a mark next to every individual they have contact with, how often they have contact and the substance of the interactions.

First coined by Barnes (1954), the social network concept was developed in a community study he was conducting on a Norwegian island parish. In this article “Class and Committees in a Norwegian Island Parish,” Barnes concentrates on face to face relationships through which class systems operate and how collective action is organized in a class system by studying an island parish dependent on industry. Barnes discovered that in as much as the individuals he worked with had collective cultural values, their social world was filled with formal establishments and in fact, individuals made decisions based on personal contacts cutting across their organizational boundaries. Personal contact refers to the direct or indirect relations between individuals or organizations. For this reason, these personal contacts cutting across organizational boundaries were configured as a network and further applied to the class system.

both the social network theory and the network study bring out the aspects of a network which are relations, personal contact and interactions. The main feature of the social network theory therefore is that it requires concepts, definitions and processes in which social units are linked to one another by various relations.

This study was also guided by the attribution theory to explain how influential attributes of SMIs affect the decision of a consumer to interact or engage with a brand and how they’ll perceive a brand product as worth trusting based on an influencers’ review about the brand product.

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The attribution theory is all about how meaning is attached in relation to another person’s behavior or an individual’s behavior. In simpler terms, it’s basically why and how ordinary people explain events as they do. It is built on explanations that are made by individuals as a way of justifying their actions. The attribution theory, first proposed by Heider (1958) is built on the assumption that an individual will try to determine why people do what they do, that is, interpret causes to an event or behavior.

Social Media Influencers (SMIs) play a key role in affecting the way users interact on social media, and organizations have learnt to leverage on this group when they prepare their communication and public relations plans. SMIs represent “a new type of independent third party endorser who shape audience attitudes through blogs, tweets, and the use of other social media”.

Corporates have levereaged on SMIs to be able to reach a bigger audience and this has been massively effective. The SMIs come with their groups of followers who act as potential clients for the brands. An example being how EABL has used twitter influencers such as @magunga, @imwirigi and others to promote their whitecap brand. This means that the collective audiences of these influencers becomes aware of the product and is swayed to consume it.

Many companies believe a presence on social media platforms is the key component to a successful marketing strategy. However, these new tendencies entail a myopia in strategy for companies who do not integrate these tools. Nevertheless, implicating social media elements locally is quite complex. An important and significant problem is that those in business can barely differentiate the different types of these tools. In the extensive construct of social media, there are multitudinous main categories, for example social networks, microblogs, virtual worlds, sharing surfaces etc. Social media has a growing effect in many perspectives: from one standpoint, it reverses the way how and why users communicate with each other. From another standpoint, it permits of the extension of marketing communication opportunities from a business to consumer aspect.

Consequently, business actors have to incorporate a new, interactive communication flow into their marketing strategy. In such an environment, users are able to create, modify, share and discuss a significant part of contents on the web. there coexist seven functional blocks in social media, which are the principles of understanding how it works. These elements are the following: identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation and groups. Identity delineates the way how consumers reveal themselves on a social media platform.

Corporates are also able to lean into the credibility of these influencers that they have built over time to further their marketing strategy.

SM has a spreading influence on firms in many viewpoints. On the one hand, it reflects to the evolution of the way how and why users communicate with each other (Parsons, 2011). SM is very interactive in nature, and users can easily share information with others on it. On the other hand, as a new media platform, SM enables the development of marketing communications opportunities. The transformation from a one-way communication model to a more complex, two-way model is a direct effect of the democratization of information, where not only companies talk to their customers, but customers talk directly to one another.

However the effectiveness of SMI in corporate communications can be challenged by evidence of the fake interactions some influencers have been generating. According to an article by Muyela Roberto, companies such as Unilever have been spending up to 2 billion shillings on influencer marketing. But they have been shocked by the purge of fake users online that has seen some twitter influencers lose up to 500,000 followers on platforms such as twitter.

Furthermore, cases like comedian Eric Omondi being a brand ambassador for an airline like Kenya Airways (KQ) begs the question on whether his target audience which comprises mostly of common citizens is the same demographic of KQ customers. In this case, one can question the effectiveness of the use of this SMI. We also see him being used to promote the Fresh Fry brand of cooking oil with skits of him dancing in comedic fashion which also asks how this affects how he is viewed in light of the other brands he represents. Brands like KQ would want to be seen in a more serious and professional light.

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Reasons Why SMI are so Persuasive. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 10, 2023, from
“Reasons Why SMI are so Persuasive.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
Reasons Why SMI are so Persuasive. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 10 Jun. 2023].
Reasons Why SMI are so Persuasive [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Jun 10]. Available from:
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