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How do consumers interact with social media influencers in extraordinary times?

Natalya Saldanha (Department of Management and Marketing, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia) (School of Marketing and International Business, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia)
Rajendra Mulye (Department of Marketing, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Arnold Japutra (Department of Marketing, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia) (Department of Management, Universitas Indonesia, Depok, Indonesia)

Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing

ISSN: 2040-7122

Article publication date: 26 July 2023

593

Abstract

Purpose

Consumers are increasingly spending more time on social media platforms to cope with anxiety and loneliness resulting from the recent pandemic. The extraordinary times, characterised by isolation and lockdown, has placed increasing dependence on online technology as a coping mechanism in which social media influencers (SMIs) served as the human face of brands, helping both consumers and brands maintain human connection. How should practitioners navigate their social media campaigns in this changing environment?

Design/methodology/approach

To answer this question, the Source Connectedness Pyramid is proposed to help explain and compare the interactions between consumers and SMIs in ordinary and extraordinary times.

Findings

In their interactions with influencers during ordinary times, consumers are satiated with influencer source characteristics of attractiveness, trustworthiness and expertise. However, during extraordinary times, consumers substitute their usual preference to focus on connectedness, characterised by relatedness, belongingness and attachment.

Originality/value

The empirical study within this paper lends support to this proposition and offers additional insights. The proposed Source Connectedness Pyramid contributes to influencer communication theoretically and has strategic implications for practitioners when navigating their social media campaigns in these extraordinary times.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by an internal research grant from RMIT University. The authors recognise and acknowledge the efforts of Peter Hvala in improving this paper.

Conflict of Interest: On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Citation

Saldanha, N., Mulye, R. and Japutra, A. (2023), "How do consumers interact with social media influencers in extraordinary times?", Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JRIM-02-2023-0062

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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