Instagram vs. Reality: Conceptions of Authenticity Among Instagrams Micro-Influencers
Haverford College. Department of Sociology
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Social media micro-influencer marketing is a booming, multi-billion-dollar industry, and Instagram is, far and away, the platform of choice for marketers. Central to narratives advanced in popular media and advertising industry publications is the notion that influencers are effective at advertising products because they are considered ‘authentic’ in the eyes of their respective audiences. This thesis attempt to interrogate the concept of authenticity among Instagram influencers themselves, and asks: What is considered authentic among the micro-=influencers of Instagram, and what is its significance? Drawing upon previous research and interviews with five Instagram micro-influencers, I argue that authenticity is a fraught performance. I then suggest detail three ‘balancing acts’ central to micro-influencers’ strategies of performing authenticity: 1) a balancing act between back-stage practices and front-stage performance, in a dramaturgical sense; 2) a balancing act between practices of emulation and practices of distinction; and 3) a balancing act between relatability and marketability.