‘To trust or not to trust’:The impact of social media influencers on the reputation of corporate brands in crisis

Singh, Jaywant and Crisafulli, Benedetta and Quamina, La Toya and Xue, Melanie (2020) ‘To trust or not to trust’:The impact of social media influencers on the reputation of corporate brands in crisis. Journal of Business Research, 119. pp. 464-480. ISSN 0148-2963

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Corporates often partner with social media influencers to bolster brand image after crises. Although existing evidence suggests that influencers have largely positive effects on brands, there is paucity of research on the role of influencers in corporate crisis communications. Across two studies, we examine the impact of influencers on consumers’ perception of corporate brands responding to crises. Drawing on persuasion knowledge theory, we identify issues associated with brands engaging influencers, such as inference of manipulative intent, which negatively affects perceived trustworthiness and corporate reputation. The downside of employing influencers in crisis communications is, however, offset by the influencer and brand communicating values-driven motives of their partnership. Our findings imply that corporate brands should respond to crises through a bolstering strategy promoting existing corporate goodwill, without the influencer’s involvement. When leveraging influencers’ support, however, brands should endeavor to inoculate against manipulative inferences by communicating values-driven motives behind the brand-influencer partnership.

Item Type:
Journal Article
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Journal of Business Research
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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Business Research. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Business Research, 119, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.03.03910.1016/S0370-1573(02)00269-7
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23 Apr 2020 15:00
Last Modified:
15 Sep 2023 01:07