Master Thesis: why do people follow influencers? Help


Hi everyone,

I am currently writing my Master thesis about Influencer Marketing, more precisely: what makes people follow influencers on Instagram?.
Therefore, I am looking at different characteristics of an Influencer: trustworthiness, expertise, attractiveness, authenticity but also the perceived popularity (number of followers...), the content they share and how this impacts the consumers attitude and motivation to follow.
I am a little bit stuck with my literature review as I can't find any research to: motivation to follow. Does anyone have an idea what kind of topics or research I could include here?
I would appreciate any help, thank you!


People have been following other people for generations. There is an entire industry of celebrity endorsement which works exclusively on the principle. I would be very surprised if you didn't find a whole ton of research on this very weird and utterly depressing phenomena. I'd also be very surprised if there was anything that social media aspect of this could teach us that hasn't already been published.

So, take social media out of the equation and check the literature for celebrity endorsement. You might have better luck there.

ETA: Having thought about this for a bit more, what is particularly striking is that in the absence of traditional, genuine, highly talented, household name celebrities, much of society seems prepared to elevate complete non-entities, who lack any apparent talent whatsoever, into their place. There might be some mileage in researching that phenomenon. It started with Big Brother 18 or so years ago so there won't be much literature about it. You might get a clean run there. Andy Warhol talked about the famous "15 minutes of fame" years before that though so you might have some digging to do if this interested you at all.

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I am agreeing with pm133. If you can find literature on your exact topic, it isn't novel. So be creative and think about what is linked to your research. I see too many times people, getting stuck because they can't see literature telling them exactly what they want.

I think you could get some mileage out of technological change and how that affects marketing. When movies were invented new celebrities were born, who were massive influencers, as brands paid to have there stuff in films. It was the same with, glossy magazines, TV, reality TV, early internet, each with their own celebrities that changed the way things were advertised. Social media is the new disruption technology and it might follow a similar path to the way brands market themselves to customers.


That's a good point about social media being disruptive technology for marketing.
It used to be that for credibility, a company had to advertise in newspapers, on radio and had to have a landline and a full website and a traditional office location.
My current business has only a Facebook page, a mobile phone and no formal office at all. We run 3 seperate but compatible mini businesses from one premises. Things have completely changed over the last 15 years. The best advice now for a new business is to give out free stuff which costs you nothing (like advice or whatever) to build your potential customer base quickly and then try to upsell for cash from there. Traditional marketing methods dont seem to work anymore. As much as I absolutely loathe Twitter, it does seriously democratise business. Anyone with an internet connection can make money without having any to start with. It's liberating and exciting. Rather than relying on one business idea to bring in all the money you need, it is very common to have several co-existing business streams with each bringing in money, the total being more than enough to live on.