University of Oulu

Perceived authenticity in influencer marketing

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Author: Pietarinen, Aino1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Marketing, Marketing
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
Pages: 77
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : A. Pietarinen, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-05-15
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Ojansivu, Ilkka
Reviewer: Juntunen, Mari
Ojansivu, Ilkka


The purpose of this master’s thesis is to enrich the knowledge regarding the perceived authenticity of a social media influencer. Perceived authenticity has been acknowledged as an attribute that impacts the successfulness of influencer marketing. Thus, the topic of perceived authenticity is examined within the context of influencer marketing and the objective is to discover elements that may foster or diminish the perceived authenticity of an influencer from their followers’ perspective. To achieve this objective, the study will answer the research question of “how do followers experience the perceived authenticity of a social media influencer?”

The study’s findings are valuable for both influencers and brands. The concept of perceived authenticity has been studied extensively with other contexts, such as brand authenticity and within the context of personal and self-branding. In-depth knowledge regarding perceived authenticity within influencer marketing remains scant. Previous research related to influencer marketing has emphasized quantitative methods as the effectiveness of influencer marketing has received enormous interest. This study was conducted as qualitative research, utilizing semi-structured interviews as the primary data and content analysis as the secondary data. The chosen methods allow in-depth examinations regarding the research topic that is subjective and complex in nature.

A total of eight semi-structured interviews were conducted in March 2023. The participants were chosen based on certain criteria: they must be active followers of influencers on social media. In addition, the participants were selected from different generations to achieve knowledge that can be applied to wider target groups. Research participants familiarized themselves with the subject before the interviews as they were asked to write journal entries regarding their thoughts and feelings related to influencers’ content. The journal entries were discussed in the semi-structured interviews and utilized as the secondary data of the study.

The research’s key findings supported previous theories related to perceived authenticity, and novel contributions were discovered. The findings indicate that influencers’ perceived authenticity is related to elements of openness, vulnerability, personality, and similarity. Influencers’ content is perceived as authentic when it appears as spontaneous, interactive, and not-heavily edited. The findings highlighted the significance of brand-influencer fit as the parties’ values and brand must be aligned. In addition, the importance of influencers’ personal approach, extent of collaborations and transparency regarding brand endorsed publications were stressed.

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Copyright information: © Aino Pietarinen, 2023. Except otherwise noted, the reuse of this document is authorised under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) licence ( This means that reuse is allowed provided appropriate credit is given and any changes are indicated. For any use or reproduction of elements that are not owned by the author(s), permission may need to be directly from the respective right holders.