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“It’s selling like hotcakes”: deconstructing social media influencer marketing in long-form video content on youtube via social influence heuristics

Paul Rohde (Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK)
Gunnar Mau (Department of Psychology, DHGS German University of Health and Sport, Berlin, Germany)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 10 August 2021

Issue publication date: 6 October 2021

3903

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine the ability of the social influence heuristics framework to capture skillful and creative social media influencer (SMI) marketing in long-form video content on YouTube for influencer-owned brands and products.

Design/methodology/approach

The theoretical lens was a framework of seven evidence-based social influence heuristics (reciprocity, social proof, consistency, scarcity, liking, authority and unity). For the methodological lens, a qualitative case study approach was applied to a purposeful sample of 6 SMIs and 15 videos on YouTube.

Findings

The evidence shows that self-promotional influencer marketing in long-form video content is relatable to all seven heuristics and shows signs of high elaboration, innovativeness and skillfulness.

Research limitations/implications

The study reveals that a heuristic-based account of self-promotional influencer marketing in long-form video content can greatly contribute to the understanding of how various well-established marketing concepts (e.g. source attractivity) might be expressed in real-world communications and behaviors. Based on this improved, in-depth understanding, current research efforts, such as experimental studies using one video with a more or less arbitrary influencer and pre-post measure, are advised to explore research questions via designs that account for the observed subtle and complex nature of real-world influencer marketing in long-form video content.

Practical implications

This structured account of skillful and creative marketing can be used as educational and instructive material for influencer marketing practitioners to enhance their creativity, for consumers to increase their marketing literacy and for policymakers to rethink policies for influencer marketing.

Originality/value

Prior research has created a body of knowledge on influencer marketing. However, a conceptual disconnect has hampered the advancement of the field. The social influence heuristics framework is a highly functional conceptual bridge that links the qualitative and quantitative evidence and will advance the understanding of influencer marketing more effectively.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

There was no explicit funding source for the study. PR received a general scholarship from the German Academic Foundation. Authors would like to thank the four reviewers for their insightful and enriching comments.

Citation

Rohde, P. and Mau, G. (2021), "“It’s selling like hotcakes”: deconstructing social media influencer marketing in long-form video content on youtube via social influence heuristics", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 55 No. 10, pp. 2700-2734. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-06-2019-0530

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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