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RESEARCH INSIGHT | Increase Influencer ROI on Digital Platforms

The Research

Though influencer marketing is a key component to digital marketing strategy, its effectiveness is still low. Sponsored blogging, which combines aspects of paid and earned media, enables influencers to engage with audiences and ultimately shape messaging. The authors examine the drivers of sponsored blogging strategies, including blogger and content characteristics, and campaign incentives. Through their research they show how influencers impact different stages of the customer decision journey while highlighting the role of campaign intent on social media engagement, and how different social media platforms can moderate these factors on engagement. Since social media platforms are constantly being modified and updated, the authors say marketers should focus on the characteristics of successful strategies rather than associate them with specific.

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What You Need to Know

Managers who include bloggers in their digital marketing strategy should base decisions based on campaign intent. They should also consider how social media platforms differ in terms of sharing content, expertise, and campaign intent in driving brand engagement.

  • Sponsored blogging can be an effective way to engage customers, shape messaging, and ultimately impact purchasing decisions.
  • The key drivers of engagement in blogs are blogger expertise, campaign intent, hedonic value of post, and campaign giveaways.
  • The impact of social influencers are different on each social media platform, so managers should vary content strategies, for example, focusing on bloggers with large numbers of followers for campaigns on high distraction platforms (ex. Facebook).


Influencer marketing is prevalent in firm strategies, yet little is known about the factors that drive success of online brand engagement 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. The effectiveness of campaign incentives depends on the platform type, such that they can increase (decrease) engagement on blogs (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.

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