What makes social media influencers authentic? Understanding perceived authenticity of social media influencers
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This research explores how consumers’ perception of social media influencers’ (SMI) authenticity is constructed. To that end, a measurement scale that hinges on consumers’ authenticity cues is developed to delve into the structure of perceived SMI authenticity. Additionally, the role of perceived SMI authenticity on consumer behavior variables is examined. To develop and validate the scale, a mixed methods research design is used in which qualitative responses were collected via an open-ended survey and quantitative data were collected via two online surveys. Results suggest perceived SMI authenticity is a multidimensional construct consisting of: Sincerity, Transparent Endorsements, Visibility, Expertise and Uniqueness. Each of the five dimensions had varying effects on consumers’ evaluation of a SMI, willingness to follow a SMI and intention to purchase products they recommend. This research extends theoretical work on authenticity by shedding light onto the construct of perceived SMI authenticity and provides practical implications for marketers and social media influencers.