Influence or Illusion: Debunking the Hype of Social Media Influencer Marketing

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type




First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


This study explores the impact of social media influencers on young women aged 18-25, examining how their marketing strategies influence self-perceptions and purchasing behaviors. Social media influencer marketing has become an increasingly popular marketing strategy, particularly for businesses targeting women in this age range. The research question for this project is: “Is Interactive Marketing by Social Media Influencers as Influential as we think?”. Since there is little research specifically on the influencer era dominating social media, this research adds a fresh outlook to what we already know about this topic. The research methodology is unique as through the use of in-depth interviews, there is an intimate and personalized analysis of how young women feel about Social Media Influencers. This research seeks to investigate the use of interactive marketing techniques that shape the self-perceptions of their followers while examining the influence of these strategies on consumer behavior. This research employs a mixed-methods approach, using both qualitative and quantitative methods, including surveys collected online and receiving 170 responses, as well as 10 in-depth interviews. The findings shed light on the complex relationship between social media influencers and young women, revealing the lesser impact of marketing strategies but a larger impact on their perceptions and behaviors, as well as the role of self-esteem in shaping these effects. However, the results from the survey and interviews show that the women in the fit demographic aren’t as influenced as they may seem. Additionally, factors such as trust, skepticism, and negative self-perceptions have been discovered as problems in this study. This research provides valuable insights into the developing world of social media influencers and their impact on the well-being of young women.

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