What Are Opinion Leaders and Why Is Their Influence Important?
Updated June 24, 2022
Opinion leaders are influential in business. They are a reliable and trusted source in their area of expertise for consumers, often helping them make decisions with purchases or lifestyle choices. In this article, you can learn what an opinion leader is and why opinion leaders are essential.
What is an opinion leader?
An opinion leader is someone who has mastered a specific market or industry and has established trust within a community as an industry insider or decision-maker. They have an audience or following that trust them as a source of information for their interests.
An opinion leader can make a career out of influencing their audience based on industry trends, current events and consumer behavior within the market.
Related: What Does Leadership Mean?
Why are opinion leaders important?
Opinion leaders are important because of their ability to influence the market and consumer trends. They often have the authority in the market to be the first to try a new product or service and have the influence to pass on their information and opinions, which can have an impact on the use of the product or service with their audience. They are a trusted resource to help give insight when it is needed. An opinion leader can also influence your behavior to inspire a particular response or action from you.
Characteristics of an opinion leader
Opinion leaders have several qualities that help them be successful as a trusted source of information in their area of expertise in the market. Characteristics of an opinion leader are:
Sense of charisma
Opinion leaders have a sense of charisma that allows them to convey their message in a likable and influencing way. They tend to have personalities that we like and want to be around. Opinion leaders act as role models and we typically want to emulate their way of living.
Opinion leaders are respected, which allows us to have the ability to trust them. They earn their level of trust by becoming experts in their field. Their knowledge is a source for us that helps us determine what products we want to purchase and consume.
Interest in issues
Opinion leaders are interested in an issue that influences their area of expertise. The way opinion leaders become experts is by acquiring knowledge from issues that pique their interest. When they focus their time and energy on these issues, they can influence the way we see these issues and how we respond to them.
Ability to influence
Opinion leaders can influence the formation of public opinion with products or services. By having charisma and knowledge, opinion leaders can influence our perceptions and actions through the words and actions they use.
Opinion leaders are knowledgeable about whatever products or services they are promoting. To become experts, they have to take the time to learn and gain knowledge on a product or service that they want to have influence over.
Ability to easily convey information
Opinion leaders can digest, clarify and communicate information from the media to their audience. They are masters at public relations efforts and have a way with words that can influence their audience.
Strong social media presence
Opinion leaders understand the best way to find and reach their audience is to be active on social media. Being active on social media and sharing their information and opinions can easily influence the decisions of their followers. It's an easy way to interact with their followers, as well. By making us feel special, it creates more of an opportunity to create influence and to relay their message to a broader audience.
Examples of opinion leadership in culture
We depend on opinion leaders in culture to get us through many situations that occur in our day-to-day lives. Here are some examples of the opinion leaders that we turn to for opinions and advice:
Family and friends
One of the first and most common forms of opinion leadership we encounter in our culture is our family and friends. We seek advice from our family and friends anytime we need guidance. These relationships have a significant impact on our decisions in life and have the ability to influence our views and opinions of the world.
Family and friends have similar opinions, which can help shape our views. They are respected members of our inner circle, which gives us a more effortless ability to trust their opinions.
Celebrities have the most power and influence over an audience and are the most recognizable opinion leaders. They have the most significant amount of reach with their audience because of their ability to use the media and social media to get their message out. We often want to emulate the celebrities that we look up to and their brand becomes identifiable.
Celebrities represent products and services. Since they are familiar faces, we come to trust them and feel that they are an excellent resource for those products and services. Companies capitalize on their trust by selling their products to consumers. In return, the celebrity makes money for using their influence.
Business leaders can change life as we know it. They listen and pay attention to the ways we use and consume products and services and have the power to change the landscape of how we use those products and services.
Business leaders in technology companies have the ability and influence the ways we use products like cell phones and computers. These opinion leaders use knowledge to gain information that makes their products better. Since technology is a field that's rapidly evolving, products will get better with every generation. They use these advances to try and influence our want and need to consume the latest technology.
Business leaders that work with distributing merchandise like household essentials can influence the market over their competitors. They take time to listen to their consumers, and if they hear that they want products faster and cheaper, they work to try and find solutions to meet that demand. If they can create a distribution system that can get products to consumers faster and the products are also cheaper, then they will increase their influence and trust.
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