Implementing a Strategic Narrative in Influencer Marketing

Everybody connects with stories. We’re living them every day and every second. They can bring your brand to life in the eyes of your audience, especially when that narrative is delivered by social media influencers that the audience already relate to. A solid strategic narrative can be effective for any brands looking to connect deeply with their target audience and influence them into performing a certain action.

After all, it is one of the simplest ways to unlock people’s emotions – and successfully engage their interest in your brand.

This is all comes down to understanding the needs of consumers. Once you grasp the psychology behind influencer marketing, you can use this to your advantage. Read on to find out more about how psychology can aid your influencer marketing strategy.


strategic narrative


Psychology in Influencer Marketing

Psychology isn’t something that’s been created. It just exists. By consciously paying more attention to why stories and why influencers are so impactful, you can get into a mindset that makes you a stronger influencer marketer.

At PMYB, we encourage our employees to continue to educate themselves on the psychology of people, to shed light on important aspects of consumer behaviour.

But what is the key element that makes influencer marketing work? Well, the answer boils down to one thing: emotion. Fully understanding the psychology behind everything helps us to unlock the secrets behind particular actions. Emotions shape perceptions of brands, inform purchase decisions and provoke material desires.

So, emotions are the key to an effective marketing campaign. However, making consumers feel something is truly the starting point for a whole host of other positive consumer actions.


strategic narrative


How Stories Trigger our Emotions

Effective storytelling can trigger emotions in consumers. This is because a strategic narrative, that is carefully planned out, constructs a sequence of memories in the minds of consumers. And these memories are always linked to emotions.

To get a deeper understanding of this further you look specifically, at the work of neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean.

In the 1960s, MacLean proposed his theory for the structure of the brain, which he dubbed the Triune brain model. According to this theory, the brain consists of three main parts: the reptilian complex, the paleomammalian complex (limbic system), and the neomammalian complex (neocortex).


The Science behind Emotions and Strategic Narratives

For today’s purposes, we are interested in the limbic system, because this part of the brain deals with both emotion and memories. In fact, the limbic system links these concepts together intrinsically. The amygdala part of the limbic system acts as our brain’s emotional centre, whilst the hippocampus plays an important role in our consolidation of memory. And crucially, both these parts are known to work together – when they encounter either positive or negative stimuli.

For example, when we encounter a pleasant image, our emotions are activated through the amygdala. And sometimes, that pleasant image will have a lasting impression. That means it will be recorded in your memory by the hippocampus, thereby linking a memory with positive emotions.

You can probably now see how this might be something marketers can monopolise, as any future encounters with that image would also spark positive emotions and, crucially, a reminder of that past memory.

This means that split-second emotions can spark long-lasting memories. But for marketers, this has a greater significance. It tells us that a simple yet emotive story can form a powerful image of a brand in consumers’ minds. And that is one of the key tools you can use when – and it explains why a strong recommendation can make a lasting impression.


How to Apply a Strategic Narrative in Influencer Marketing Campaigns

To put these psychological insights to use, you should now consider how to employ emotive storytelling in influencer marketing.

There are many ways to do this – but we recommend focusing on the eight primary emotions that everyone experiences. The American psychologist Robert Plutchik identified these emotions as joy, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, surprise, trust and anticipation.

When an influencer marketing campaign triggers one – or more! – of these key emotions effectively, consumers are far more likely to be attracted to the campaign, commit it to their memory, and engage with the brand or the product in the future.

We’ve listed 3 influencer campaigns with a strategic narrative that have considered a range of these powerful emotions – including anticipation, sadness and joy!


Triggering Anticipation in your Strategic Narrative

When it comes to influencer marketing campaigns, anticipation is one of the strongest emotions a strategic narrative can trigger. This is because anticipation is the emotion that hooks a consumer’s interest, encouraging them to engage actively with an influencer marketing campaign – which is a simple way to ensure a campaign has a lasting and significant impact. It makes them want to know more!

With influencer marketing, it can be very simple to trigger anticipation with a strategic narrative.

You probably do this unconsciously, but it starts with the thumbnail, title and the caption you choose. For example, sponsored YouTube videos draw readers in with an enticing headline. This signals to readers that there is a secret to find out inside.

This encourages readers to watch the video and take part in the gripping, emotional journey.


Louise Pentland and Tinder

One clear example of how a strategic narrative encouraged anticipation is the following collaboration between the dating app Tinder and top British YouTuber Louise Pentland.

The video, titled ‘How I Met My Boyfriend’, draws viewers in with the promise of a personal story. In doing so, it goes onto organically incorporate Tinder. Over 600,000 of Louise’s loyal fans tuned in to watch!


strategic narrative (tinder)


Triggering Sadness in your Strategic Narrative

Somewhat controversial, but it happens. Some marketers look to trigger sadness in order to strengthen their strategic narrative. They aim to get their audience to sympathise over something within the content.

Sadness is also one of the most powerful emotions that we can experience as humans. So, when influencer marketing campaigns trigger sympathetic responses in audiences, they tend to be unforgettable experiences that are often repeated by those that experience them.


Mental Health Awareness – Lex Croucher and the Penguin Platform

This Lex Croucher video is a great example of a campaign that implemented a strategic narrative to engage an audience and draw attention to an important topic, mental health awareness.

Here, the Penguin Platform teamed up with YouTuber Lex Croucher. The video discusses the emotive topic of mental health and links it to personal experiences dealt with by Lex. It is considered a hard watch by some, but a powerful one. It implemented a strategic narrative that truly harnessed the audience’s emotions and relevantly promoted the books of the Penguin Platform in the process.



Triggering Joy in your Strategic Narrative

This is one strategic narrative that will definitely bring a feel-good feeling to your brand!

Hundreds of international brands – from McDonalds to John Lewis – strive to imbue a sense of joy into their marketing. After all, the impact of a strategic narrative that encourages joy is always positive. Joyful emotions are always likely to encourage positive feelings towards your brand.

And of course, influencer marketing campaigns can also replicate this effect! Have a look at a great example of this here…


ThatcherJoe and Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is well known for their adverts that have clear strategic narratives, which often stimulate feelings of joy in their consumers.

But in recent years, the brand has taken this strategic narrative into the realm of influencer marketing. For example, in 2015, Coca-Cola teamed up with top British YouTuber ThatcherJoe. ThatcherJoe is the sister of social media superstar Zoe Sugg and has several million loyal subscribers on YouTube. For their campaign, Coca-Cola harnessed this huge audience to associate Coca-Cola with feelings of joy.

Coca-Cola challenged Joe to spread happy thoughts amongst his audience by reaching out to some of his loyal fans. This created a feel-good video that starred a number of fans and drew in over 2 million viewers. And, crucially, this exposed viewers to the Coca-Cola brand and ethos. The campaign also had a great lasting impact, by resonating with positive experiences and content.


enjoying coca cola (strategic narrative)


Learn more about the Psychology of Influencer Marketing

Clearly, triggering emotion through strategic narratives can help brands to make a lasting impression in their audience. As we’ve seen today, a psychological understanding of emotion can help brands to employ a strategic narrative that affects consumers in different ways. But you need to find the right narrative for your brand and the right influencers to tell that story.

Strategic narratives are something we always consider when developing and implementing the influencer strategies of our clients and it’s something you should consider. To learn more about employing psychology in influencer marketing click here to learn more.


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