Social media influencers as human brands: an interactive marketing perspective

Do Yuon Kim, Hye Young Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study examined how social media influencers create and leverage followers' attachment to deliver marketing messages by applying human brand theory and attachment theory. Design/methodology/approach: An online self-administered survey by 490 US adults who are Millennials (27–40) or Generation Z (18–26) in 2020 and currently following any specific social media influencer was conducted and analyzed. Findings: The results suggest that homophily, social presence and attractiveness create a greater attachment. Attachment enhances followers' loyalty to the influencer and advertising credibility and reduces their resistance to advertising, whereas it does not affect advertising perception. Research limitations/implications: This study suggests the significance of emotional bonding which explains the recent industry shifts targeting “micro-influencers” and long-term partnerships. The attachment to the influencer leads the followers to become loyal, credit marketing messages and lower the resistance without altering the perception as advertising. Originality/value: This study identifies how attachment affects the followers' perception and response to the marketing message delivered by the influencer while previous studies were limited to the formulation process of attachment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-109
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Research in Interactive Marketing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 25 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Attachment
  • Homophily
  • Human brand
  • Influencer
  • Social media
  • Social presence


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