Social media brand influencers have become one of the biggest marketing and public relations trends of 2017, especially those who promote lifestyle brands (Glucksman, 2017). While many social media users are capitalizing on the “brand influencer” trend, people who identify as the LGBTQ, still struggle to connect with the heterosexual audience as brand influencers source. YouTube and Instagram are visual mediums that allow brand influencers to craft their expertise verbally and visually to communicate their expertise and enhance credibility. Using the source credibility theory, which posits that persuasiveness of the message is based on the perceived credibility of the source (Hovland et al, 1951), this study investigates how the LGBTQ and heterosexual influencers were perceived by the followers on the YouTube and Instagram platform. Using a Netnography approach, (n=4,646) comments were analyzed from YouTube and (n=16,683) from Instagram to identify positive, negative, and neutral sentiment. Findings demonstrate the LGBTQ community have a higher level of engagement, but at the same time, a high interest from followers on the sponsored posts. The commenters responding to the heterosexual influencers focus more on the influencer appearance rather than the content presented by them. Comments on Instagram are more explicit compared to YouTube.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Instagram (Firm); YouTube (Electronic resource); Internet personalities--Public opinion; Sexual minorities in mass media--Public opinion; Internet marketing--Public opinion

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Communication (BS)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Communication (CLA)


Ammina Kothari

Advisor/Committee Member

Duygu Akdevelioglu

Advisor/Committee Member

Kelly Norris


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes