This study investigates how social media influencers create and maintain credibility and influence with their followers. In addition, the study also investigates how followers make sense of the information they receive from the influencer, and which factors play a part in their sense-making.
Social media influencers are people with a significant number of followers on various platforms such as Instagram, YouTube and blogs. Because of their large following, influencers are highly valuable to brands who often are willing to pay a significant amount of money for an influencer to promote their products. Research shows that people are more likely to trust an influencer’s recommendations the same way they trust a friend or family member’s rather than traditional advertisements. This study aims to discover what reasons might be behind this. To do so, theory by anthropologist Dr. Crystal Abidin and researchers Alice Marwick and danah boyd is used to achieve an understanding of the social media influencer industry, intimacy and interconnectedness, and influencers’ practice of celebrity. Additional theory by Professor of Communication Brenda Dervin and sociologist Henrik Dahl is used in order to understand how individuals make sense of information, and how it differs from person to person. The overall scientific approach is based on phenomenology. The analysis is based on material from individual interviews with two Danish bloggers, and one focus group interview with three people who all have experience with influencers on social media. The analysis is split into four sections based on Marwick and boyd’s set of learned techniques from their theory about practice of celebrity: Public Recognition and Fan Maintenance, Affiliation, Intimacy, and Authenticity and Sincerity. Each part focuses both on the sender perspective (influencer) and the receiver perspective (follower) simultaneously. The analysis seeks to understand how these four techniques can be used strategically by influencers to create, maintain and improve their credibility, recognition, and intimate relationship with their followers. Finally, the results from the analysis of the empirical material are discussed. The discussion mainly focuses on the paradoxes between authenticity, credibility, and the fact that influencers are being paid to work for brands promoting products they might not always truthfully like or use. Furthermore, the authenticity and sincerity of the followers is also discussed, as our interviews show that followers are more likely to interact with influencers if they have something to gain such as prices, likes, and follows.
In conclusion, the study suggests that influencers strategically interact with their followers in order to create a sense of intimacy and friendship like relationship. If influencers have a good understanding of their audience, they are more likely to communicate to and with them in a successful manner, ultimately avoiding context collapses and potential shitstorms. Furthermore, influencers use interaction and personal information as a way of receiving public recognition, and use language and cultural references to create affiliations with their followers. The intimacy between influencer and follower is what makes influencers different and often more beneficial than traditional marketing. Whether the intimacy is true or merely just performed for the purpose of growing a tighter and therefore more beneficial relationship is discussable; it is intimacy, regardless. To sum up, practice of celebrity is a complex matter that depends highly on the relationship between influencers and followers for an influencer to be recognized as credible, trustworthy and relatable.
|Uddannelser||Kommunikation, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Bachelor|
|Udgivelsesdato||29 maj 2017|
- Social media influencers
- Practice of Celebrity
- Perceived Interconnectedness
- Sociale medier