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When Do We Listen to Social Influencers? Two Essays Examining the Role of Social Influence

Hughes, Christian (2019) When Do We Listen to Social Influencers? Two Essays Examining the Role of Social Influence. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In Essay 1, I examine influencer marketing strategies and their impact on online brand engagement. Influencer marketing is prevalent in firm strategies, yet little is known about the factors that drive success of online brand engagement. The study sheds light on influencer marketing and examines how sponsored bloggers influence consumers at different stages of the consumer purchase funnel. The findings suggest that sponsored blogging affects online engagement (e.g., posting comments, liking a brand) differently depending on blogger characteristics and blog post content, which are further moderated by social media platform type and campaign advertising intent. When a sponsored post occurs on a blog, high blogger expertise is more effective when the advertising intent is to raise awareness versus increase trial. However, source expertise fails to drive engagement when the sponsored post occurs on Facebook. When a sponsored post occurs on Facebook, posts high in hedonic content are more effective when the advertising intent is to increase trial versus raise awareness. Effectiveness of campaign incentives is dependent on the platform type, such that they can increase engagement on blogs but decrease engagement on Facebook. The empirical evidence for these findings comes from real in-market customer response data and is supplemented with data from an experiment. Taken together, the findings highlight the critical interplay of platform type, campaign intent, source, campaign incentives, and content factors in driving engagement. The authors discuss managerial implications of their findings on the implementation of influencer marketing strategies.
In Essay 2, my research examines how group norms are determined in a sequential choice setting. When people in groups make decisions sequentially, they are conforming to group norms as they develop. I show that the group norm is determined by the behavior of the second person (i.e. the first follower) relative to the first person (i.e. the leader). In Study 1, a restaurant field study, I show that people either order to fulfill uniformity or variety depending on the behavior of the first follower relative to the group leader. When the first follower chooses similarly (differently) to the leader, the rest of the group seeks uniformity (variety). In Study 2, I use a secondary data set of online reviews to demonstrate that group variation in review valence depends on the comparison of the first follower’s review relative to the leader’s review. In Study 3, I replicate the findings in an experimental setting and show that perceptions of a group norm mediate the effect of the first follower on within-group variation. Implications for research and practice are discussed.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hughes, Christiancah185@pitt.educah185
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSwaminathan,
Committee MemberInman,
Committee MemberLamberton,
Committee MemberHan,
Committee MemberSridhar,
Date: 26 June 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 April 2019
Approval Date: 26 June 2019
Submission Date: 22 April 2019
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 141
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business > Business Administration
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: social influence, sponsored bloggers, influencer marketing, sequential choice
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2019 18:04
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2021 05:15


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