Public perceptions of the authenticity of social media influencers (SMIs) are a key driver of the latter's persuasiveness as brand endorsers. Despite its importance, no measurement scale currently exists for perceived authenticity of social media influencers (PASMIs). This prevents practitioners from effectively assessing consumers' perceptions of an influencer's authenticity prior to a potential partnership. To provide better guidance, this research develops and validates a scale of PASMI as well as examines the relationships between the underlying dimensions of the scale and key consumer behavior variables.
The current research consists of two studies: the first study constructs a scale; the second validates it. In Study 1, items were generated from existing scales as well as from qualitative responses. These items were revised based on feedback provided by an independent group of reviewers. Furthermore, an online survey was conducted to purify the items. In Study 2, the scale was validated with a new sample.
Results suggest that perceived SMI authenticity is a multidimensional construct consisting of sincerity, truthful endorsements, visibility, expertise and uniqueness. Each of the five dimensions has varying effects on consumers' evaluation of an SMI, willingness to follow an SMI, and intention to purchase products that SMIs recommend.
This research extends theoretical work on authenticity by developing and validating a scale as well as delving into the construct of perceived SMI authenticity. Practical implications are provided for marketers and SMIs.
The authors would like to thank the dissertation committee, Dr. Bright, Dr. Devlin, Dr. Johnson, and Dr. Oh, for their creative criticisms and guidance on developing this article.
Lee, J.A. and Eastin, M.S. (2021), "Perceived authenticity of social media influencers: scale development and validation", Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 822-841. https://doi.org/10.1108/JRIM-12-2020-0253
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