Paper Number

2491

Paper Type

Short

Description

The burgeoning popularity of social media has shifted how social media users share and seek information through online platforms. Social media users are often motivated to show the “perfect side” of themselves on the platform, resulting in sharing manipulated appearances and positive aspects of their lives in order to garner more “likes” when comparing their popularity to others. Thus, social media users may often face inauthentic information, which may affect their behaviors on the platform. In this study, we utilize a change in Instagram policy—where they hide the number of likes from the platform— which started in September 2019 in East Asia. Specifically, we examine influencers’ post-generating behavior and post characteristics (e.g., whether it is focused on product vs influencers themselves and the degree of image manipulation). The results show that the number of endorsement postings increases, and influencers are more likely to generate influencer-focused postings after the intervention. In addition, we find that such effects are accentuated when influencers have a the larger follower base. Lastly, our findings suggest that the economic benefit (e.g., total weekly sales) that influencers gain increases after the intervention; however, such an effect is attenuated with influencers having a larger number of followers.

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21-Digital

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Dec 12th, 12:00 AM

What Influences Influencers? Hiding Popularity Signals and Influencer Behavior

The burgeoning popularity of social media has shifted how social media users share and seek information through online platforms. Social media users are often motivated to show the “perfect side” of themselves on the platform, resulting in sharing manipulated appearances and positive aspects of their lives in order to garner more “likes” when comparing their popularity to others. Thus, social media users may often face inauthentic information, which may affect their behaviors on the platform. In this study, we utilize a change in Instagram policy—where they hide the number of likes from the platform— which started in September 2019 in East Asia. Specifically, we examine influencers’ post-generating behavior and post characteristics (e.g., whether it is focused on product vs influencers themselves and the degree of image manipulation). The results show that the number of endorsement postings increases, and influencers are more likely to generate influencer-focused postings after the intervention. In addition, we find that such effects are accentuated when influencers have a the larger follower base. Lastly, our findings suggest that the economic benefit (e.g., total weekly sales) that influencers gain increases after the intervention; however, such an effect is attenuated with influencers having a larger number of followers.

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