Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

School of Journalism and Mass Communications

First Advisor

Taylor Wen

Abstract

This dissertation investigates the impacts of the relationship between social media influencers and followers on consumers trusting influencers, being inspired by them, and perceiving mutual benefits in this relationship, which could increase how consumers value and respond to influencers' endorsement. Using an online panel (N = 559), the survey results indicate a stronger relationship between an influencer and a follower increases the likelihood that the follower will view the influencer as trustworthy, draw inspiration from the influencer, and perceive that they share reciprocal benefits in this relationship. The trustworthiness and inspirational value of an influencer, as well as their followers’ view of the mutual benefits of their relationship with an influencer, can significantly impact the value and response to an endorsement. The serial mediating role of trust/inspiration/mutual benefits and endorsement values uncovers the underlying mechanisms in forming consumers’ intention to engage in eWOM and purchase the product. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Available for download on Thursday, May 15, 2025

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