Influencer marketing is a tactic that many companies have had to integrate into their businesses to better communicate with consumers. The purpose of this research is to analyze the role influencer marketing plays in a company's brand. This study assesses the way consumers build trust and relationships with companies through the help of influencers. There are many variables that come into play, for example, emotional attachment, authenticity, and loyalty are just three that have been measured in previous studies. These same variables are used in this research to see if they can also apply to a company that uses influencers versus one that does not. Friestad and Wright's (1994) persuasion knowledge model (PKM) is applied in this study from a theoretical perspective; the theory focuses on how people use their knowledge of persuasion motives and tactics to interpret, evaluate, and respond to influence attempts from marketers. A cross-sectional survey of 105 respondents that use social media was conducted to test six proposed hypotheses. Participants were asked to respond to the survey questions based on at least one company or brand they follow on social media. The findings show that brand attitudes toward a company that uses influencer marketing are not more positive than a company that does not. The amount of time a consumer follows a brand on social media does not have an impact on their brand attitude. The level of authenticity toward a brand has no relationship with influencer marketing and the use of influencer marketing does not affect the emotional attachment toward the brand nor does it contribute to consumer brand trust. Emotional attachment and brand trust increase consumer loyalty, but authenticity does not. It was found that influencer marketing for this sample population is not recommended when attempting to increase the respective variables. This study also provides useful insights about college students and their social media interests.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Branding (Marketing)--Social aspects; Internet personalities--Public opinion; College students--Attitudes

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Communication and Media Technologies (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Communication (CLA)


Eun Sook Kwon

Advisor/Committee Member

Jonathan Schroeder

Advisor/Committee Member

Tracy Worrell


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes