Media Industry and Consumers  

Influence Marketing and Social Commerce

As popular social media channels expand their platforms as engines of commerce, the presence of influencers on these platforms has increased. As a result, many brands are launching formal partnerships with influencers to drive online engagement and ultimately higher sales.

While the potential for social commerce is evident, adoption rates of converting engagement to sales is lagging. University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Professor and Director of Media Consumer Research Sylvia Chan-Olmsted and doctoral student Hyehyun Julia Kim wanted to better understand how relational factors in the contexts of influencer community and influencer–follower relationships might facilitate consumers’ usage intent toward social commerce.

In particular, the researchers looked at four areas of social commerce: purchase intentions, intent to social shop, electronic word-of-mouth commerce, and individual consumer factors (such as sociability and risk aversion).

Findings show the importance of communities forming around influencers. Perceived enjoyment, interactivity, social support, identification, and usefulness are all significant predictors of consumer usage intent.

This study provides a new lens through which to view social media influencers and their online community. Social commerce takes place in a social space and, as such, relationships with community members can significantly impact an individual’s buying habits. This research also advances an argument that influencers are themselves a type of human brand around which brand associations can develop. Thus, the benefits of influencer-follower relationships can give rise to new communities that reinforce the bond between others.

he importance of relationship marketing in yielding favorable marketing outcomes is a key finding of this research, along with the fact that the benefits of relationships, especially commitment, have profound impacts on consumer brand relationships. Overall, this study suggests that influencers can exert their influence beyond the social media platform and sponsored social media posts, which confirms the powerful role of influencers in the marketing process.

Future research would do well to explore the effectiveness of different influencer types as well as factors such as credibility and expertise, with relation to respondents’ perspective of influencers.

The original research paper, “Influencer Marketing and Social Commerce: Exploring the Role of Influencer Communities in Predicting Usage Intent,” appeared online in the Journal of Interactive Advertising on Sept. 14, 2022.

 Authors: Hyehyun Julia Kim, Sylvia Chan-Olmsted,

This summary was written by Marie Morganelli, Ph.D.

Posted: November 15, 2022
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