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Influencer Marketing

A mixed method study on the effectiveness and spread of influencers

Written by E. Pärlhem, J. Rutberg

Paper category

Master Thesis


Business Administration>Marketing & Sales




Thesis: Influencer marketing Although influencer marketing is a relatively new concept, in the past few years, influencer marketing has given several definitions. Sigala (2017) defines influencer marketing as “...the practice of identifying individuals who have influence on the target audience” (page 94). Sudha and Sheena (2017) are more specific and define influencer marketing as "... the process of identifying and activating individuals who have influence on a specific target audience or media in order to become part of the brand’s influence activities. Sell ​​or participate" (page 16). Devilleman et al. (2017) focused on endorsements and image in their definition "...Brands aim to stimulate influencers to recognize their products, and in this way build their Image, this approach is called influencer marketing.” (p.801) Definition of De Veirman et al. (2017) is the definition used in this study. Given the previous definition, influencer marketing can be considered to be based on eWOM (Sudha & Sheena, 2017). Influencer marketing is about how individuals influence other consumers through the dissemination of information, attitudes and recognition (Sigala, 2017). Furthermore, it is about identifying those individuals who may have the most influence (De Veirman et al., 2017). Finally, it is about how to best use influential individuals to endorse a company's products or brand (De Veirman et al., 2017; Sudha & Sheena, 2017; Sigala, 2017). Most research on influencer marketing is conducted in the context of the Internet and social networking sites. This may be due to the fact that traditional WOM is exogenous (Godes & Mayzlin, 2004). WOM is usually the result of past behavior, not the result of active measurement (Godes and Mayzlin, 2004). On social networking sites such as Instagram, marketers can work directly with influencers to form working relationships between influencers and their followers (Sudha & Sheena, 2017; De Veirman et al., 2017). Building strong relationships with the right influencers is important for two reasons. First, it is important that the influencer and subsequent influencer followers (“target audience” or consumer network) are suitable for the brand or company (De Veirman et al., 2017). If the goal is to have a strong influence spread leading to objectively measurable sales, then the communication from the influencer needs to be relevant to the audience (De Veirman et al., 2017). Second, influencers reflect the brand based on their internal characteristics (De Veirman et al., 2017). This is also true when considering the credibility of the information conveyed, which is discussed in their source credibility model by Erdogan, Baker, and Tagg (2001). 2.2.3 Identifying influencers Although the importance of identifying influencers on social media has been emphasized, research is ultimately limited to specific details about which characteristics constitute influencers (Araujo et al., 2017). De Verman et al. (2017) mentioned how to identify influencers by the number of followers is an issue of accessibility, while Araujo et al. (2017) studied the spread of influence through the influence of the information conveyed ("the power of forwarding"), while Carter (2016) regarded identifying influencers as individuals seeking to improve their own brand. In addition, Lahuerta-Otero and Cordero-Gutiérrez (2016) concluded that influencers can be found by looking at the way they write and behave when communicating with followers, as this is usually a common factor. What they mean is that they often express their opinions and feelings clearly through social media, whether they are positive or negative. Devilleman et al. (2017) consider opinion leaders as de facto influencers, while Araujo et al. (2017) believes that celebrities and public figures are the most influential influencers. Hamis et al. (2016) further referred to influencers as micro celebrities and mentioned the importance of extensive networks, but other than that, no specific influencer characteristics were mentioned. Using early theories and concepts, two different types of influencing factors in the characteristics of influencers can be determined. Table 2 below summarizes how the two types of influencers are distinguished in the paper. The inherent difference between opinion leaders and micro-celebrities lies not only in their characteristics, but also in the way they create fame (De Veirman et al., 2017; Kapitan and Silvera, 2015). Micro celebrities actively seek fame and promote their personal brands to create followers (Kapitan & Silvera, 2015). The reputation of opinion leaders is because of their behavior, not because of the need to be famous (De Veirman et al., 2017). This is further reflected in the type of content they choose to share. A micro celebrity has a lot of content about themselves, their lifestyle and their interests (Khamis et al. (2016)). Most of the content of opinion leaders is not about themselves, but their specific interests and knowledge (De Veirman et al., 2017). Their personality has nothing to do with content, and for micro celebrities, their personality is content. Since the features in Table 2 provide methods for identifying different influencers, the rest of the literature review will address the methods and techniques that can be used to optimize cooperation with different types of influencers from a business perspective. Read Less