The Psychology Behind Influencer Marketing

In many ways the English idiom, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ relates to influencer marketing in the 21st century. Great quality images and videos produced by influencers / content creators and posted on social media platforms, such as Instagram, are the first attention-grabber for the modern audiences raised in the Internet-informed world. Captions and hashtags come in a second moment. Dr Robert Cialdini in his research on the principles of persuasion indicates the shortcuts to decision-making in the digital age, which consist of reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, liking, and consensus. But how does it translate to the influencer marketing? Let’s explore this below…


In his debate of ‘reciprocity’ as one of the most important points of the science of persuasion, Cialdini talks a lot about the sense of obligation. Influencer marketing is interesting because it makes the followers want to engage with the content published without being annoyingly demanding. But this desire to be seen and heard in the world of online social media is a certain form of obligation, in which modern consumers of culture choose to be part of.

It is a common practice to at least like or comment content on Instagram that we relate to or like. In that sense, Instagram users, indeed fall under reciprocal power of influence. We are influenced not only what we are given or shown, but predominantly how the information is presented to us. And content-creators of Instagram are constantly trying to provide good quality pictures, videos, and stories for their loyal audiences.

In many ways, influencer marketing becomes reciprocal on online social media platforms, such as Instagram. While those content-creators are sponsored and promoting particular hotel, venue or brand, the users who respond and engage with their content, are not. But their engagement with the content created by the social media influencers is even more important as they are people who are likely to be persuaded or influenced to book a particular destination. This constant engagement creates the community of alike people with shared passion and interests.

Scarcity and Uniqueness

When choosing a destination or place they are staying at, people want to feel special, and love attending unique venues. If something is less available, the demand may increase, as some basic economics laws recall.

While Instagram influencers content is easily available and accessible, using micro-influencers relates to Cialdini’s theories of scarcity. They have specific, highly-engaged followers so that when those creators are chosen correctly, they can create greater traffic on the company’s website.

Authority of social media influencers

Influencers marketing works by providing certain expertise on experiences in hotels and destinations. With their follower numbers on, for instance, Instagram, and the constant quality of posts, those content creators can hold great influence. They are perceived as a credible source of opinions.

Scientifically speaking, according to Cialdini, the whole ‘introduction’ of the company through a different agent – in case of using influencer marketing through content-creators who believe in the company’s product or venue – increases trust, credibility and benefits the venue. Influencers are basically becoming niche experts on a specific topic.


The image above is a re-gram by @swayy.me from @alliemtaylor


People are the creatures of habits, which is one of the reasons why influencer marketing works. It is because the potential consumers already follow specific accounts due to their aesthetics, places, and the brands they present. The credibility of those influencers is defined by a certain consistency in theme and aesthetics.

And it is that consistency that hotels and venues can use, with influencers marketing their places to the specific markets. To know more, see our post on how to improve your hotel marketing strategy.


Following Cialdini, ‘People prefer to say yes to those that they like’. Generally speaking, average Instagram user follow either their friends or brands, celebrities, influencers that post content related to their interests.

Liking ‘short-cut’ in the digital age consists of similarity, compliments, co-operation techniques. All of them play a huge role in the influencer marketing for hospitality industries and leisure businesses.  Instagram users follow those whose content they find interesting, which means those who share their interests, in, for instance, travel or food markets.

As a huge number of Instagram users are part of either millennials or generation X age groups, they are highly engaged in the content generated on social media platforms. That means, they comment and refer to influencers posts. And if they choose a place based on influencer post, they are very likely to post their own experiences from a particular hotel or venue on Instagram with specific hashtags and location markings. According to the 2018 research by We Are Social, while under-25s are more likely to follow fashion influencers, those between 25-44 – that account for 374 million of Instagram users – will often look for travel advice on social media platforms.

Choosing a right influencer matters in reaching a desirable market. And with Swayy we can help you with that.

Consensus, or Looking Up to Others

According to Cialdini, people tend to look up to the actions of others in order to determine their own. Nearly 45% of the younger generations claimed that they’ve purchased or considered a product or venue after seeing an influencer’s post on a social media platform. A lot of time, they are not necessarily looking for the information, but more for inspiration. And inspiration is a powerful persuasive tool mainly because it doesn’t feel as such. It is not as aggressive as other forms of digital marketing are. On the contrary, it is engaging and inspirational.

Cialdini, as well as numerous other researchers and marketers alike, point out to the importance of the previous guests’ opinions. It is scientifically proven that showing that the others already doing something is better than a brand or venue claiming they are good etc. In that way, the influencer marketing becomes a tool bridging the gap between the hotels and venues, and the social media user. It is important to note that the influencer marketing doesn’t end with the image or video they post. Not only those posts will be commented and referred to, but hotels and different venues should look into using the influencers’ content on their websites or their Instagram accounts.



If you are hotel looking for a successful influencer collaboration, sign up with Swayy today or read more about influencer marketing on our website.