Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to examine how influencers’ visual content affects consumer attitudinal and behavioral responses to influencer advertising. The proposed model includes smile intensity of influencers as the independent variable, warmth and admiration as the mediators, and product category (Study 1) and orientation of advertising messages (self vs social, Study 2) as the moderators. Design/methodology/approach: Two experimental studies (Study 1 and 2) were conducted. A total of 337 online panelists were collected via Qualtrics in Study 1 and responses from 409 online panelists were collected via Qualtrics in Study 2. Findings: The results of two experimental studies showed that smiling influencers increased perceptions of warmth and feelings of admiration, thereby evoking positive consumer attitudes and behavioral intention. The strong positive impact of smiling on responses to influencer advertising was present regardless of product categories (Study 1) and the orientation of advertising messages (Study 2). Originality/value: This study empirically examined the role of visual content on consumers’ attitudinal, emotional, and behavioral responses to influencer advertising by adopting theoretical models in social psychology. This paper also provides strong managerial implications for marketers who seek the most effective strategies for leading consumers to evaluate influencers positively and ultimately, accepting marketing messages favorably.
Abstract : This research examined how visual presentation of social media influencers affects consumers’ social cognition and the effectiveness of influencer advertising. Using the theoretical frameworks of the Stereotype Content Model (SCM) and the Behaviors from Interpersonal Affect and Stereotypes (BIAS) Map, Study 1 demonstrated that influencers with bigger smiles were perceived as warm and competent and were evaluated more positively than less smiling influencers. Study 2 revealed that warmth and competence judgments led to admiration toward the smiling influencers, which in turn resulted in positive attitudinal and behavioral responses to their advertising posts. By investigating the mediating effects of judgments and emotional responses toward influencers, this study reveals social cognitive mechanisms underlying consumers’ processing of influencer advertising.
Taeyeon Kim (Grady PhD Student) was awarded the 2018-2019 American Academy of Advertising Dissertation Award ($2,500) for her proposal “The Effects of Influencer Type (Micro vs. Macro Influencer) and Brand Placement Type of Consumer Responses to Influencer Advertising.”