eMarketer expects that Instagram’s US ad revenue will reach over $3 billion in 2017, and will grow to $6.84 billion in 2019. This figure, coupled with the fact that Instagram has over 800 million active monthly users, makes this social platform attractive to marketers. Celebrities have the largest follower counts on Instagram, and therefore businesses are eager for celebrities to endorse their products and services on the app. These celebrity endorsements can spread positive e-WOM to large online audiences. Celebrities’ Instagram posts can be seen, liked and shared by any of their followers- which means that they have the potential to transform an unknown product into an overnight sensation.
Traditional celebrities VS Influencers
Research shows that social pressures influence women more than men, which therefore indicates that females are more likely to be influenced by online celebrity endorsements. Wiley believes that the e-WOM from small-scale celebrities is more influential than traditional celebrity endorsements on consumers. This is because consumers view small-scale celebrities as being more relatable and credible. Furthermore, consumers also perceive ads as being more trustworthy if the celebrity endorser has expertise in the product’s industry. For example, a famous makeup blogger with expertise in the beauty industry may appear more credible when reviewing cosmetics than a Hollywood actress.
In spite of this research, however, A-list celebrities still receive a higher pay-out per Instagram post due to their larger follower counts. According to Instagram’s first rich list, singer and actress Selena Gomez (122 million followers) receives an estimated $550,000 per post. On the other hand, Instagram’s top influencer, makeup-artist Huda Kattan (20.5 million followers), makes an estimated $18,000 per post. According to journalist, Rachel Moss, “one in 20 Instagram users now monetise their posts and sponsored content has increased by more than a third on Instagram (34%) since 2015”.
Celebrity endorsements and young women’s buying behaviours
Djafarova and Rushworth conducted interviews of 18 young, female Instagram users. All subjects were young professionals or students, from North-East England. The results are as follows:
- 17/18 participants followed a celebrity on Instagram.
- All understood the term “instafamous”.
- Participants agreed that a user’s follower count is indicative of their credibility and status as being “instafamous”.
- Every interviewee agreed that celebrity e-WOM on Instagram influenced them in some way.
- All claimed that celebrities with a large follower count were credible sources of e-WOM.
- Most agreed that small-scale celebrity reviews were more credible and relatable than A-list celebrity reviews.
- Participants agreed that they would trust an ad more if the celebrity endorser had expertise in the product’s industry
- All knew that businesses approach celebrities to endorse products, but trusted that their favourite celebrities wouldn’t post deceptive reviews. Therefore, a celebrity’s financial incentive to endorse products seemingly doesn’t negatively affect consumers’ willingness to buy said products.
- Each participant seemed to refer to celebrity reviews on Instagram before purchasing a product.
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Djafarova, E, & Rushworth, C (2017). ‘Full length article: Exploring the credibility of online celebrities’ Instagram profiles in influencing the purchase decisions of young female users’. Computers In Human Behavior, 68, pp. 1-7, ScienceDirect, EBSCOhost. [Accessed 29/9/2017].
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