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Driving Brand Engagement through Online Social Influencers: An Empirical Investigation of Sponsored Blogging Campaigns

Driving Brand Engagement through Online Social Influencers: An Empirical Investigation of Sponsored Blogging Campaigns

Christian Hughes, Vanitha Swaminathan and Gillian Brooks

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Teaching Insights

Sponsored blogging affects online engagement (e.g., posting comments, liking a brand) differently depending on blogger characteristics and blog post content, which are further moderated by social media platform type and campaign advertising intent. When a sponsored post occurs on a blog, high blogger expertise is more effective when the advertising intent is to raise awareness versus increase trial. However, source expertise fails to drive engagement when the sponsored post occurs on Facebook. When a sponsored post occurs on Facebook, posts high in hedonic content are more effective when the advertising intent is to increase trial versus raise awareness.

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Related Marketing Courses: ​
Digital Marketing; Social Media Marketing

Full Citation: ​
Hughes, Christian, Vanitha Swaminathan, and Gillian Brooks (2019), “Driving Brand Engagement through Online Social Influencers: An Empirical Investigation of Sponsored Blogging Campaigns,” Journal of Marketing, 83 (5), 78-96.

Article Abstract
Influencer marketing is prevalent in firm strategies, yet little is known about the factors that drive success of online brand engagement. The study sheds light on influencer marketing and examines how sponsored bloggers influence consumers at different stages of the consumer purchase funnel. The findings suggest that sponsored blogging affects online engagement (e.g., posting comments, liking a brand) differently depending on blogger characteristics and blog post content, which are further moderated by social media platform type and campaign advertising intent. When a sponsored post occurs on a blog, high blogger expertise is more effective when the advertising intent is to raise awareness versus increase trial. However, source expertise fails to drive engagement when the sponsored post occurs on Facebook. When a sponsored post occurs on Facebook, posts high in hedonic content are more effective when the advertising intent is to increase trial versus raise awareness. Effectiveness of campaign incentives is dependent on the platform type, such that they can increase engagement on blogs but decrease engagement on Facebook. The empirical evidence for these findings comes from real in-market customer response data and is supplemented with data from an experiment. Taken together, the findings highlight the critical interplay of platform type, campaign intent, source, campaign incentives, and content factors in driving engagement. The authors discuss managerial implications of their findings on the implementation of influencer marketing strategies.

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Special thanks to Kelley Gullo and Holly Howe, Ph.D. candidates at Duke University, for their support in working with authors on submissions to this program. 

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Christian Hughes is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame.

Vanitha Swaminathan is professor and Robert W. Murphy Faculty Fellow in Marketing at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business.

Gillian Brooks is a Post-Doctoral Career Development Fellow in Marketing, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.