Here's When We Trust Influencers Most

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The best way to choose what to buy is probably still from a personal recommendation. If you don't know anyone who fits the bill (and those handy review sites aren't cutting it), a social media influencer might do the trick. We've got limits as to how far we trust influencers, though — and one study suggests it's quantifiable.

According to a new paper, we want to be told what to buy, but only if there aren't too many options. Almost half of us look to influencers for guidance on product reviews, and about 40 percent of us actually follow through with a purchase. But because we think of the influencer's endorsement as expertise, we get suspicious if there are too many kinds of things to buy. In effect, we start to doubt whether the influencer really knows what they like.

Given what we know about choice paralysis (and how we ourselves can snap out of it), this makes sense. If we want to outsource our own decision-making process, there's no need to introduce more factors into it. This may mean we get a little smarter about which influencers we choose to follow financially.

Not every product is really subject to social media influence, of course, but given how much harder it is to become a high-profile YouTube vlogger, for instance, we would hope the ones who make it to the top know what they're talking about. Of course, caveat emptor always applies, but a good shorthand is checking to see what kind of spread, curated or unlimited, is on an influencer's table.