Definition of Social Influence

Social Influence refers to the impact or sway that an individual or group can exert on others within the digital realm, particularly in platforms such as social media and online communities. It often involves the use of content creation, brand promotion, and opinion-shaping to persuade or guide audiences in decision-making. Social influencers play a key role in digital marketing by leveraging their presence, credibility, and relationship with followers to promote products or services.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Social Influence” is:Social: ˈsōSHəlInfluence: ˈinflo͞oəns

Key Takeaways

  1. Social influence represents the ways in which individuals change their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors due to real or perceived pressure, exposure, or persuasion from others in their social environment.
  2. There are three primary types of social influence: conformity, compliance, and obedience. Each type involves varying degrees of persuasion and social pressure to shape an individual’s behavior and decision-making.
  3. Factors such as group size, group unanimity, and an individual’s self-esteem, status, and cultural background can impact their susceptibility to social influence, leading to both positive and negative outcomes in social situations.

Importance of Social Influence

Social Influence is an important digital marketing term because it represents the impact and persuasiveness that individuals, groups, or brands have on the decision-making and behavior of others in the online space.

In today’s highly connected world, consumers often rely on recommendations, social proof, and the opinions of influencers to make decisions about which products or services to choose.

A strong social influence can significantly boost a brand’s reach, credibility, and ultimately, its bottom line by leveraging the power of word-of-mouth marketing and creating brand ambassadors.

By understanding and harnessing social influence, marketers can strategize more effectively, engage with the right audience, and create a positive brand perception that encourages brand loyalty and drives conversions.


Social Influence, in the context of digital marketing, serves a fundamental purpose of leveraging the power of interpersonal relationships and social networks to steer consumers towards a specific product, service, or brand. Often achieved through the use of social media platforms, influential collaborations, and user-generated content, the overarching aim is to establish a sense of trust, credibility, and relatability between potential customers and the promoted brand.

By tapping into social connections, personal recommendations and shared experiences, businesses can significantly enhance their marketing efforts by harnessing the innate human desire to belong, associate, and identify with others. Digital marketers primarily utilize social influence to boost brand awareness and drive consumer engagement, often by partnering with industry influencers, thought leaders or even customers themselves.

This approach amplifies the brand’s message, making it more likely to resonate and establish an emotional connection with the target audience. In doing so, businesses can foster stronger relationships with their customer base, stimulate advocacy, and ultimately, increase sales and customer lifetime value.

As a result, social influence is a foundational tool for businesses seeking to both establish and sustain an authentic presence in the fast-paced, highly-connected digital marketing landscape.

Examples of Social Influence

Influencer Partnerships: Fashion brands often partner with popular social media influencers to create sponsored content featuring their clothing and accessories. For example, the clothing company Revolve regularly collaborates with influencers like Chiara Ferragni, Aimee Song, and Camila Coelho. These influencers have a significant social following and their endorsements have a considerable impact on their audience’s purchasing decisions, thereby creating social influence.

User-Generated Content Campaigns: In 2014, Coca-Cola launched the “Share a Coke” campaign, where they replaced their iconic logo with popular names and encouraged customers to find their own names (or a friend’s) on a bottle. People enthusiastically shared images of their personalized bottles on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This increased user engagement, broadened brand exposure, and tapped into the social influence that customers have within their circles – making it a successful digital marketing campaign.

Viral Social Media Challenges: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge emerged as a powerful example of social influence in digital marketing. In this challenge, people were nominated to pour a bucket of ice water over their heads and share the video on social media. They would then nominate others to do the same or donate to the ALS Association. The challenge quickly went viral, with celebrities and everyday people participating, leading to increased awareness and donations for ALS research. This challenge demonstrated how social influence can be harnessed to spread a message and achieve desired outcomes through digital marketing platforms.


Social Influence FAQ

1. What is social influence?

Social influence refers to the way in which individuals change their behavior or beliefs to fit in with a group or to be more accepted by others. It can be both conscious and unconscious, and may result from peer pressure, social norms, or simply observing others’ actions.

2. What are the types of social influence?

There are three main types of social influence: conformity, compliance, and obedience. Conformity is the act of changing one’s behavior or beliefs to match those of others in a group, while compliance is when someone changes their behavior following a direct request from an authority figure. Obedience is when an individual follows the orders or instructions of an authority figure, even if they don’t fully agree with them.

3. What factors affect social influence?

Factors that affect social influence include group size, group unanimity, cultural factors, individual differences, status of the influencer, and the nature of the task or decision being influenced.

4. What is the role of social influence in persuasion?

Social influence plays a crucial role in persuasion, as people are more likely to change their beliefs or behavior if they see others doing so, or if they believe it will gain them acceptance or approval. In addition, persuasion techniques often leverage social influence principles, such as reciprocity, consistency, and authority, to nudge people in the desired direction.

5. How can social influence be used positively?

Social influence can be used positively by promoting healthy behaviors, encouraging pro-social actions, or fostering a sense of community and cooperation. Examples include promoting recycling, encouraging volunteering, or creating a culture of equality and inclusivity in the workplace.

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Related Digital Marketing Terms

  • Brand Advocacy
  • Online Reputation Management
  • Engagement Metrics
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Consumer Generated Content

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