#AD: An exploratory study into consumers’ trust, attitudes, and behaviours towards influencers sponsored posts on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook
Social media as a means of communication has increased dramatically in the previous years, and has proved to be an effective way for brands to engage and communicate with their customers. Furthermore, these platforms have paved the way for the social media influencer, in order for brands to stay competitive these people are used as a marketing tool to promote their products and/or services to their large number of followers. This research aims to assess the feelings consumers have towards influencers paid posts across the four most consumer engaging social media sites, and the affects these feelings have on their purchase intentions and has three objectives: 1. To carry out an investigation using qualitative research exploring consumers’ trust, attitudes, and behaviours towards influencers’ paid posts on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. 2. To evaluate if consumers see these paid posts as adverts or if they have become “blind” to them. 3. Make recommendations on how brands can ensure they select the correct influencers to promote their products and/or services to ensure consumers trust them and in turn purchase, and recommend their brand. A qualitative approach to data collection was selected by the researcher to achieve rich and detailed data. Data was collected by carrying out a total of three focus groups and an inductive approach was taken. Furthermore, the researcher adopted a grounded theory approach in order to analyse the data collected. As a result of this study a consistent definition of what an influencer is emerged and overall, participants engage well with influencers on social media if their adverts seem genuine and brands take the time to select the correct influencer.