Be Honest with Me: What Happens when Social Media Influencers Lie?

Image credit: Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash


Social media influencers (SMIs), which represent a “new type of independent third-party endorser who shape audience attitudes through blogs, tweets, and the use of other social media” (Freberg et al., 2011, p. 90), have increased exponentially over recent years. As of the writing of this manuscript, there are over 3,500 people on YouTube who have a following of over three-million subscribers (Social Blade). Not all SMIs are this big; however; several micro-influencers exist. Marnie Goldberg has just over 100,000 subscribers on YouTube. Marnie showcases her daily-life story, from her book clubs to vacations with her family, all while reviewing items from her newfound passion. Followers become invested in SMI’s stories and maintain interest throughout their subsequent life journey. These stories captivate onlookers, draw in followers, and form a cult-like interest in people found on the internet.Given the increased accessibility to SMIs through platforms like YouTube and Instagram, and considering the life story communicated to expansive SMI audiences over long periods of time, it’s no wonder that, in 2019, the money spent sponsoring SMIs topped $8 billion in net worth, and is projected to reach $15 billion in net worth by 2022 (Schomer, 2019). This new phenomenon is referred to as influencer marketing (Audrezet et al ., 2018), a strategy traditional brands use in which they promote their products via social media influencers. Influencer marketing is becoming so popular we are now seeing university programs dedicated to the phenomena. An Italian university, eCampus, is now offering a three-year program to earn a degree in social media influencing, particularly on Instagram (Bertacche et al., 2019).

In Academy of Marketing Science
Louis J. Zmich
Louis J. Zmich
Owner of Zmich Consulting Marketing and Sales Doctoral Candidate

Zmich Consulting LLC specializes in comercial and hand-coded website development, social media management and content creation, along with Google analytical guidance on how to improve the success of your business.