Trust me, trust me not: A nuanced view of influencer marketing on social media

Do Yuon Kim, Hye Young Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Social media influencers are widely employed as a marketing strategy as they successfully attain trust from followers. Applying the social exchange theory and its principle of reciprocity, this study investigated whether the source characteristics of an influencer (i.e., expertise, authenticity, physical attractiveness, homophily) can function as relational resources in the formation of follower trust. Whether followers’ trust in the influencer leads to their loyalty to the influencer and desirable marketing outcomes (i.e., product attitude, purchase intention) was also examined. Results revealed that trust mediated the impacts of expertise, authenticity, and homophily on loyalty and marketing outcomes. However, physical attractiveness was not significant in building relational trust. Also, the moderating role of relationship strength was confirmed in authenticity-trust and trust-loyalty linkages. The findings suggest implications for the strategic use of influencer marketing and provide a better understanding of persuasion mechanisms manifested in influencer-follower relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-232
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Business Research
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Influencer
  • Reciprocity
  • Relationship strength
  • Social exchange theory
  • Social media
  • Trust


Dive into the research topics of 'Trust me, trust me not: A nuanced view of influencer marketing on social media'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this