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Perceived authenticity of social media influencers: scale development and validation

Jung Ah Lee (Communication, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)
Matthew S. Eastin (Stan Richards Department of Advertising and Public Relations, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA)

Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing

ISSN: 2040-7122

Article publication date: 25 June 2021

Issue publication date: 15 October 2021

4809

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

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.

Citation

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

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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