An influencer and its followers - A study of the parasocial relationship between an influencer and its followers: - A study of the parasocial relationship between an influencer and its followers

Nikita Hoffmann Andersen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This paper investigates the parasocial relationship possible to build up between internet-influencers and the influencer’s followers. In particular, it focals around how this parasocial relationship emerges as well as the impact of this social media relationship for the follower. Additionally, focus it put upon how this can influence the follower’s potential feeling of loneliness, how recommendations from the influencer might accommodate the follower’s need for acknowledgement and how the online and offline identity might differ.

The thesis uses an abductive approach. The aim of the research is not to confirm or invalidate a certain point. The results of the thesis have therefore, arisen due to an interaction between theory and empirical data. The philosophy of science is based on phenomenological social constructivism. In order to look at the topic from several perspectives, this thesis both looked both into the influencer’s perspective as well as the follower’s. The research is based upon primary qualitative data, conducted through three steps. The first one being a netnographic analysis on social media, the second being an elite interview with an influencer as well as the third one being seven in depth interviews with social media users that matches the influencer’s audience. The analysis is therefore divided into three parts that focuses on respectively the netnographic analysis, the analysis of the elite interview and the reception analysis of the seven follower interviews. Each analysis is supported by relevant theory of influencers, loneliness, recognition and online identity. Furthermore, themes such as authenticity, cross mediality and affordances was looked into.

The main conclusion sums up that the internet-influencer obtains a parasocial relationship with her followers due to her personal communications approach that takes place in both a professional and personal manner. The main conclusion furthermore, suggests that the influencer’s followers felt more connected to influencers who spent great time engaging with their followers. Several of the respondents turned out to confirm the link between following influencers and feeling lonely.

EducationsCommunication Studies, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Graduate
Publication date2 Jun 2019
Number of pages88
SupervisorsLisbeth Thorlacius