• Sanne Diget Thomsen
Abstract Problem formulation The problem formulation for this thesis is, How do consumer audiences perceive social media influencers and in what ways does authenticity play a significant role? The problem formulation for this thesis seeks to understand the relationship between a consumer audience and influencers. The problem formulation also seeks to explore the concept of authenticity and understand the significance this concept has on the audience’s perception of influencers. Theoretical framework The theoretical framework for the thesis is based on the building blocks of influencer culture today. The building blocks are, in this thesis, participatory culture online (Jenkins, 2008, 2009), as well as produsage (Bruns, 2008). Furthermore, the theoretical framework explores the concept of contemporary influencers, who originally referred to as opinion leaders (Katz, Lazarsfeld, & Roper, 1964). The understanding of authenticity as a social construct (Marwick & boyd, 2011), as well as how to manage authenticity (Audrezet, de Kerviler, & Guidry Moulard, 2018) was explored. The mutual benefits between influencer, audience and brand was also explored in the theoretical framework (Uzunoğlu & Misci Kip, 2014). Methodology To explore and understand the relationship and perception of contemporary influencers by the audience itself, qualitative research was conducted. The thesis applies online survey, focus group interviews and a semi-structured interview with a Danish influencer. The participants were able to respond and elaborate on their perception of influencers as well as their relationship to the influencers they follow, as well as the significance of authenticity in this relationship. To systemize the data, template analysis was used, which categorizes the overall themes of the data collected in a neat and comprehensive way. This approach highlights the strongest themes of the data collection as it relates to the problem formulation. Results The survey, influencer and focus group participants expressed distrust towards the concept of social media influencers, as the influencers are perceived to be inauthentic. The influencers who are perceived as authentic were perceived to create good quality content. Authentic influencers were perceived to be transparent, realistic, honest, believable, personal, and trustworthy. Conclusions Based on theoretical and empirical data, the conclusion and answer to the problem formulation suggests that the relationship between audience and influencer is constructed based on the audience’s perception of an authentic influencer. The role of authenticity is vital in the trust, credibility, believability, honesty, transparency and quality of content of and the relationship to the influencer. Keywords: Social media influencers, authenticity, participatory culture
Publication date30 May 2019
Number of pages60
ID: 304756095