Social Media Influencers in CSR Endorsement: The Effect of Consumer Mimicry on CSR Behaviors and Consumer Relationships

SAGE Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Social Science Computer Review, 2021, 39, (4), pp. 744-761
Issue Date:
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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a global norm for organizations to observe. In today’s shifting media landscape, social media influencers (SMIs) have become central actors in social-mediated CSR communication, connecting organizations and stakeholders by endorsing organizational CSR initiatives through self-generated messages. This study aimed to investigate how SMIs succeeded in creating positive behavioral and relational outcomes among consumers through the use of social media in the context of CSR communication. Data from a survey of 592 participants in the United States indicated that SMIs’ trustworthiness, expertise, uniqueness, and originality contributed to creating a desire in target consumers to emulate the SMIs who had endorsed a CSR initiative on Twitter. Consumers’ desire to do so drove their engagement in the CSR initiative directly, and indirectly did so through attribution of an altruistic motivation to the CSR initiative. Moreover, the target consumers’ CSR engagement and altruistic attribution further fostered their relationships with the corporation performing the CSR initiative. Theoretical and practical implications were discussed.
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