Jiangmeng (Helen) Liu, PhD
Faculty Fellow and Assistant Professor of Communication
Building/Room: 1103 Building, #309
Influencer marketing has become a must-do business strategy, projected to reach $16.4 billions in 2022. Through creating content and self-disclosing online, social media influencers (SMIs) are often considered opinion leaders in specific areas and perceived as more relatable and authentic, hence having stronger persuasive powers. Realizing the significant influences of SMIs among social media users, corporates and brands join the trend by curating ongoing partnerships with SMIs to promote their products and services.
One thing needs to be noted nowadays is that SMIs are more than just marketing tools. A great number of influencers share their views on political and social issues, and actively advocate for social justice. For instance, in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, many influencers who do not post political content initially expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement on social media. Some influencers on Instagram, such as @greengirlleah and @trashisfortossers, share tips of a waste-free and sustainable lifestyle with their followers and constantly advocate for environmental issues. When SMIs go political, they have enormous social powers and could shape public opinions in religious, scientific, and political fields.
Companies are increasingly interested in incorporating political influencers into their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Working with an authentic influencer who has dedicated their profile to a social, political, and/or environmental issue could possibly reduce skepticism toward the CSR initiatives, ensure the company’s adhering to concepts of social responsibility, enhance CSR engagement with consumers, and benefit the company as well as the society for the common good. However, limited research has been done to examine such practices (Cheng et al., 2021; Riedl et al., 2021). What’s also missing is the societal impact of collaboration between political influencers and CSR programs. Will these initiatives generate awareness, behavioral intentions, and actual advocacy behaviors for a social cause? Liu’s project aims to fill in this research gap by exploring how companies could partner with political influencers in their CSR practices, and how such collaboration could influence consumers’ perceptions of the company and, more importantly, impact individuals’ awareness and advocacy behaviors related to the social, political, and environmental issues.
Liu, J., Hong, C., & Yook, B. (2022). CEO as "Chief Crisis Officer" under COVID-19: A content analysis of CEO open letters using structural topic modeling. International Journal of Strategic Communication. https://doi.org/10.1080/1553118X.2022.2045297
Yang, Q., Liu, J., & Rui, J. (2022). Association between social network sites use and mental illness: A meta-analysis. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2022-1-1
Yang, Q., Luo, Z. Li, M., & Liu, J. (2021). Understanding the landscape and propagation of COVID-19 misinformation and its correction on Sina Weibo. Global Health Promotion, 29(1), 44-52. https://doi.org/10.1177/17579759211035053
Wu, L., & Liu, J. (2020). Need for control may motivate consumers to approach digital products: A social media advertising study. Electronic Commerce Research, 21, 1031–1054. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10660-020-09399-z