Let's start co-creating! : Establishing more successful collaborations between influencers and companies through co-creation.
Abstract: Influencer marketing has become a buzz word within the industry over the last few years. However, marketers claim that the industry needs to focus on a more quality-driven approach for brand collaborations instead of just looking after follower numbers and the potential brand awareness guaranteed by them. Therefore, the aspects and interests behind the collaborations of companies and influencers become of more importance. This research project aims for gathering more insights on the current and future collaboration practices in order to answer the question of how potential conflicts of interest between companies and influencers can be better managed. The choice of this research topic was driven by the fact that existing literature approaching influencer marketing and the collaboration practices between companies and influencers so far mainly focuses on the company’s perspective and thereby leaves out the interests of the influencers engaging in brand collaborations. Thereby, a research gap was identified that clearly emphasises the influencers’ perspective on currentcollaboration practices and expectations for future collaborations. Thus, the influencers’ perspective on potential conflicts of interest and critical aspects within collaborations were analysed in order to develop suggestions for better managing conflicts of interests between those two parties in the future. In order to gather the necessary insights qualitative interviews among seven Instagram influencers and two representatives from influencer marketing agencies were conducted. The findings of this thesis revealed three main critical aspects for successful future collaborations between companies and influencers to manage potential conflicts of interest; a stronger focus on a qualitative fit, a more transparent communication and a knowledge improvement about the influencer marketing business. In connection to the existing literature the findings suggested that the co-creation of brands and the building of brand partnerships can support the management of potential conflicts of interest and furthermore help to prevent them from the beginning on. From a theoretical perspective this thesis bridged the identified research gap by analysing the collaboration between companies and influencers from an influencer perspective and thereby suggested the use of co-creation as a theoretical framework for managing conflicts of interest within brand collaborations. Moreover, the findings revealed practical implications for the influencer marketing industry in regards to the need of more interactive dialogues, a more qualitative selection of collaboration partners and the necessity for a deeper examination and knowledge improvement of the influencer marketing industry in the future.
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