Social Media Influencer Effects on CSR Communication: The Role of Influencer Leadership in Opinion and Taste

SAGE Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Business Communication, 2022, pp. 232948842110351
Issue Date:
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With the prevalence of social media usage among consumers, brands have increasingly utilized paid social media influencer (SMI) endorsements in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication. However, how such practice generates positive consumer responses is not well understood. Drawing from signaling theory, social learning theory, and social identity theory, a structural equation model analysis was conducted to test our hypotheses and proposed model based on the survey data from 592 U.S. consumers. The research results suggest that a brand’s CSR initiatives, when endorsed by SMIs who are perceived as social media leaders in opinion and taste, directly enhance consumers’ CSR communication engagement about the initiatives and do so indirectly via the consumers’ reduced CSR skepticism. Reduced CSR skepticism and enhanced CSR communication engagement ultimately lead to the consumers’ brand loyalty, brand preference, and price premium. The study has implications for CSR advertising/social-mediated communication, SMI leadership, and SMI endorsement effects.
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