Increasing the Effectiveness of Influencer Marketing: Applying Parasocial Interaction and Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion
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- Master of Science 
This study examines whether parasocial interaction (PSI) (Horton & Wohl, 1956) and the Principles of Persuasion (Cialdini, 1984) can be applied to increase the effectiveness of influencer marketing. Whereas PSI seeks to explain how and why people are influenced by others, Cialdini’s research provides a guideline to how the principles of liking, reciprocity, social proof, consistency, authority and scarcity can be harnessed to provoke the mechanisms leading to influence. Serving each their purpose, the theories are carefully integrated in a joint framework functioning as an influencer marketing guide. The authors test whether the principles of likability, expertise and consistency are influencer characteristics that increase the level of PSI. Subsequently, the principles of reciprocity, scarcity and social proof are tested in order to explore whether they serve as persuasion techniques that increase purchase intention (PI). In accordance with the proposed framework, the latter principles are tested separately and when interacting with PSI. The study approaches a sequential exploratory research design, where a qualitative method is followed by a quantitative method. With influencer marketing being a somewhat new topic to undergo study, three qualitative studies were conducted introductory. Subsequently, the ten hypotheses substantiating the proposed framework were tested through a quantitative study, using an online questionnaire. The questionnaire was distributed through Facebook and received 358 respondents. The findings indicate that PSI relationships can be developed towards influencers in social media. PSI relationships are further found to positively affect PI, confirming previous research on the topic. Reviewing influencer characteristics, liking and homophily serve as significant contributors to the development of PSI relationships. These findings extend prior applications of PSI to the field of influencer marketing. Rereading persuasion techniques, when used in influencer marketing, scarcity is found to positively impact PI. The study contributes with insights to how PSI, influencer characteristics and persuasion techniques can be applied in order to effectuate influencer marketing. The guide provides marketers with an overview of factors that should be emphasized when using influencers in a marketing strategy, and factors that are of less importance.
Masteroppgave(MSc) in Master of Science in Business, Logistics, operations and supply chain management - Handelshøyskolen BI, 2018