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Identifying influencers on Instagram

Important factors to consider when identifying influencers to use for sponsorships and collaborations

Written by C. Abrahamsson, J. L. Israelsson och & V. Nilsson

Paper category

Master Thesis


Business Administration>Marketing & Sales




Thesis: Background theories and concepts of influencer marketing One theory widely discussed in previous studies is social comparison theory, which explains the extent to which a person views the behavior of others and is affected by the behavior of others (Festinger, 1954). Self-evaluation can only be done through comparison with others. It is a driving force that can produce a sense of belonging and a sense of correctness and satisfaction. People tend to join groups that emphasize the same opinions and have the same characteristics as themselves (ibid.). When it comes to who to use as a reference, people usually maintain a positive self-evaluation cautiously and selectively. Previous research has also confirmed that intimate relationships with others increase the pain of comparison and the joy of reflection. This can be explained by the process of comparison and reflection, which can usually be seen in social behavior. The comparison process is when the self is surpassed by another person in a highly relevant task. The process of reflection is when the self performs well on tasks that are less relevant, which leads to an increase in positive self-evaluation (Tesser, Millar & Moore, 1988). Recent studies have shown that comparison with idealized models is helpful for comparison or assimilation in self-assessment. It means either contradicting your self-assessment, or converging your self-assessment completely to an idealized model, which usually represents certain standards. Therefore, it is very important for advertisers to consider these factors when creating advertisements (Häfner, 2004). Tajfel (2010) proposed the theory of social identity, which refers to how an individual recognizes himself or herself as a social identity in terms of personal identity perception. Personal identity involves personal traits and achievements, while social identity involves group belonging. The theory is about how people use group networks to define self-concepts and classify themselves and others. This in turn leads to a split between the inner group and the outer group. Individuals identify with the inner group rather than the outer group. Individuals compare their own group with other groups to gain an advantage, thus becoming an important part of the self (Rodriguez, 2013). Another theory discussed in the previous literature is the theory of social influence, which Latané (1981) describes as how individuals influence and be influenced by each other. Social influence can be explained by individual feelings, thoughts and behaviors, which are affected by the existence or behavior of other individuals. Social influence can be described as a combination of the following factors: the intensity, directness and quantity of the influence. Power explains the ability of a group to persuade individuals. 2.1.3 Influencer marketing in social networks Influencer marketing in social networks is called social influence. Social influence refers to people changing their behavior due to the influence of others (Li, Zhang & Huang, 2018). In this case, it refers to the influence of others on the Internet. Mobile social networks are “networks where individuals with similar interests talk and connect with each other through mobile phones and/or tablets” (Peng, Yang, Cao, Yu & Xie, 2017, p. 146). These types of networks have a great influence on the extent to which individuals in social networks can connect with each other and participate in different social groups. By owning these networks, it enables individuals to influence each other with opinions, experiences and information through text, pictures, sound or video (Peng et al., 2017). A social network is composed of nodes, which are members of the network, and they are connected to each other in some way through shared experiences, interests, or shared hobbies (Solomon et al., 2013). Therefore, since nodes have similar preferences and share electronic word-of-mouth communication, this is the best place for targeted marketing (Li & Du, 2017). Especially in social networks, the communication between members is closer and frequent, which makes social media a prosperous place for electronic word-of-mouth (Wang, Yeh, Chen and Tsydypov, 2016). This also adds to the social object theory, which shows that if the relationship between the object and the person is activated, the online community will be strengthened. In this case, the object is seen as the main function and common interest that brings people together (Solomon et al., 2013). There are important characteristics that define and shape the community and its nodes in online communities. As mentioned earlier, collective interest is an important characteristic. In addition, in the context of influencer marketing and online content sharing (ibid.), dialogue, participation, and crowd power are also important. Communication is very important because it contributes to the existence of the community and allows nodes to speak more publicly and increase the social group. It also leads to increased emotional, social, and verbal intimacy in friendships (Subramaniam and Razak, 2014). The involvement of nodes in social networks stems from the identification of the community, and then from the members (Martínez-López, Anaya-Sánchez, Molinillo, Aguilar-Illescas and Esteban-Milat, 2017). When consumers are involved and therefore show participation, it can promote word-of-mouth communication by replying, posting, and participating in other online activities within its brand community (Wu, Fan & Zhao, 2017). Read Less