My Friend On Screen: An Investigation Into The Parasocial Relationship Between The YouTube Influencer And Their Followers
Purpose The purpose of this study is to investigate the nature of the parasocial relationship and how this can be formed between an influencer and a follower on YouTube. This study will also investigate how the formation of the parasocial relationship can influence the motivation for the follower to engage with the YouTuber’s content such as liking or commenting. Finally, this research will look to understand how the parasocial relationship formed between the YouTube influencer and the follower can influence the purchase behaviour of the follower. Methodological Approach Data was collected for this study using semi-structured interviews under a qualitative methodology. 8 participants were interviewed. The sample used in the research included users aged 18-24 who watch YouTube content for at least one hour per week. Findings The study identifies that perceived homophily and emotional resonance are large contributing factors toward the development of a parasocial relationship between a YouTube influencer and follower. Additionally, this research also identifies that participants were more motivated to engage with YouTube content as a result of the parasocial relationship formed. Finally, the formation of the parasocial relationship can have a positive influence on the purchase intent of the follower. It was noted that purchase intent toward YouTuber’s merchandise was particularly strong. Research Limitations and Recommendations Due to the time constraints, certain aspects of the study had to be amended to ensure completion. This study recommends thatmarketing professionals should seek influencers who foster strong parasocial relationships among their audience. Additionally, the study identifies that further research should be conducted to further understand aspirational factors regarding the parasocial relationship. Additionally, further quantitative study on the parasocial relationship’s influence on behavioural intent and purchase intent of YouTuber merchandise should be further explored.