Social Media Influencers as Human Brands
Abstract: Thesis Purpose: The purpose of this study is to quantitatively examine the effect of influencer brand personality in the US on follower-influencer identification and influencer trust, as a way for influencers as human brands to strengthen follower influencer relationships. Methodology: Quantitative methods were applied in this research. A combination of Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient, and Pearson’s correlation coefficient were employed on the collected data. Theoretical Perspective: This study establishes a nexus between the streams of brand personality, consumer-brand identification, and brand trust by drawing on the literature of Aaker (1997), Ashforth and Mael (1992), and Chaudhuri and Holbrook (2001). It also links this nexus to the topics of human branding and influencer marketing. Empirical Data: A cross-sectional study deployed via a digital survey was used on a sample of US participants (n=100) where a five-point Likert scale was used to measure their level of agreeance with statements regarding social media influencers as human brands. Conclusion: Influencer brand personality was proven to affect follower-influencer identification and influencer trust. More specifically, Sincerity and Competence were identified to be the most significant dimensions in strengthening both follower-influencer identification and influencer trust. This indicates that brand personality can be used as a tool to enhance relationships between followers and influencers in the social media influencer context.
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