Feng, Y., Chen, H., & Kong, Q. (2021). An expert with whom I can identify: The role of narratives in influencer marketing. International Journal of Advertising, 40(7), 972-993.
The authors argue that each post (both in textual and visual format) an influencer shares on social media is an example of narratives that constitute a storyline and main character(s). The content strategies used by social media influencers were analyzed using machine-learning topic analysis and deep learning image analysis. The two approaches were efficient in examining the content captions and images contained in the influencer’s Instagram posts. The study utilized 7,745 Instagram posts uploaded by the top ten young adult social media influencers within beauty and fashion sectors. The authors further examined the influence of influencer narrative on the effectiveness of sponsorship disclosure. The primary focus in this case the analysis of disclosure language in each social media post and their respective engagement performance (number of likes and comments). Findings from the analysis of the collected data revealed that social media influencers are inclined towards disclosing both professional and personal stories. These influencers are likely to share social media content containing personal and professional textual narrations. It was also noted that followers were inclined towards social media posts that features an influencer’s expertise and physical attractiveness communicated through a selfie or a photo with friends. In other cases, followers will be attracted to an influencer after reading or discovering their professional background. Lastly, it was revealed that brand will focus on sponsoring posts that that reflects professional opinions on beauty and fashion. Therefore, it was concluded that the traditional notion of persuasion knowledge was limited due to the significant role of narratives in the social media influencer marketing.