Communication Faculty Publications and Presentations


When the influencer says jump! How influencer signaling affects engagement with COVID-19 misinformation

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With signaling theory, credibility, and social media engagement (SME) as guiding frameworks, this study used an experiment to examine how social media influencers (SMIs) affect how people engage with COVID-19 misinformation. SMI-promoted information elicited more SME, credibility, and purchase likelihood than non-SMI promoted information. The most effective message was a post promoted by an SMI that contained detailed information about an authentic product. However, data indicated nuance regarding the effect of SMIs. The authenticity of the information as well as the amount of detail in the post played a role. Additionally, mediated effects analysis showed that the impact of SME on purchase likelihood was higher among non-SMI followers. Data suggests that using a multi-signal messaging approach is suitable regardless of promotion by an SMI. This has important implications to public health messaging and the author discusses how health agencies may effectively signal information to the public.


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Social science & medicine