Business Briefs: Tips for Influencers, Do you SOUND Like a Leader & How Big is Your Scale?

Welcome to The Metropreneur’s newest series: Business Briefs. The world of academic publications features fascinating findings from real-world experiments in business and the marketplace. Here are some key takeaways and applicable nuggets of knowledge that may be helpful for your business.

Influencers and Incentives

Influencers are called “influencers” for a reason. Their behavior and endorsements influence others. Often, influencers are bankrolled by their sponsors. Despite being paid to endorse products, influencers still seem to be viewed as credible sources…until they misstep. 

Researchers explored the triggers that make influencers lose credibility. They teamed one survey on 108 influencers with three experiments and one field study. Based on the findings, they’ve got advice for influencers and those who sponsor them:

  1. The audience is more likely to approve of a paid endorsement, if the influencer mentions a personal reason for accepting the incentive. That’d be something like, “I’ve loved this product for years, and when the opportunity to support it presented itself…”
  2. The audience is less likely to approve of endorsements that lack a personal connection to the influencer. That’s be something like, “Brand X asked me to try out…”
  3. Paid endorsements are more likely to be accepted if the influencer doesn’t often endorse things.
  4. If the influencer does frequently endorse things, the endorsement is more likely to be accepted if the influencer reminds that audience that paid endorsements are generally part of our culture. 

Read more here

The Impact of Influencer Motives and Commonness Perceptions on Follower Reactions Toward Incentivized ReviewsMaximilian – H.E.E. Gerrath & Bryan Usrey, International Journal of Research in Marketing

What does a leader SOUND like?

We’ve always heard it’s important to look the part. Ff you want to lead in your field, dress for success. Well, it turns out that it’s helpful to sound the part as well. In the October 2021 edition of The Leadership Quarterly, researchers asked 197 managers to give a speech. Lower pitched vocal deliveries teamed with some variation in pitch (that’s when someone is “expressive”) were positively correlated with a rise to power. 

That is, use a low voice, but put some emotion in it. Don’t be flat.

But wait, there’s more! And it’s not particularly good news. A total of 1,508 direct reports and peers provided actual leader competency ratings to those managers based on performance. There wasn’t an association between sounding good and being competent or effective. So, sounding good helps achieve a leadership position, but it doesn’t actually guarantee competency in operations. 

There were some outliers in the findings as well. Researchers noted that women tended to perform better in categories regarding the beginning of a speech. Additionally, perceived leader efficacy and age seemed to push against each other. Researchers noted that agism is an ongoing issue when it comes to perceptions of managers. 

Read more here

Sounds Like a Leader: An Ascription–Actuality Approach to Examining Leader Emergence and Effectiveness – Margarida Truninger, Marian N. Ruderman, Cathleen Clerkin, Katya C. Fernandez, & Debra Cancro, The Leadership Quarterly.

What’s Your Scale?

Launching a successful product depends, in part, on consumer testing. Do consumers like the product? Do consumers like the messaging around the product?  

As it turns out, how consumers feel about things can very well be affected by…the test question. 

Biased test questions are nothing new. It’s common knowledge that the language used in a question can impact how it’s answered. That’s not what we’re talking about, though. 

In a study using 595 subjects, researchers found that rating scales with fewer response options tended to yield higher values. For example, if you ask one group of people to rate ice cream using a 10-point scale (where 10 is the best), and another group of people to rate ice cream on a five-point scale (where five is the best), the ice cream will perform better on the five-point scale. It’ll do even better on a four-point scale, not only because it has fewer options, but also because it doesn’t have a “middle value,” and raters tend to “score up.”  

Further, study participants generally tend to prefer scales with fewer values. That makes sense, fewer choices means less effort. That said, smaller scales are going to offer a different picture. Whether it sacrifices accuracy is a question for another research project. 

How Rating Scales Influence Responses’ Reliability, Extreme Points, Middle Point and Respondent’s Preferences – Naia A. DeRezende & Denise D. DeMedeiros, Journal of Business Research