What an "Influencer" is, is not yet agreed upon by science. In the "Use-the-News" study, Leonie Wunderlich wanted to find out, among other things, how young people themselves define the term. "The perspective of adolescents and young adults was simply missing from the scientific discourse on this group of people," she says. In the eyes of the young people, influencers, according to the study, are only a certain type within a multitude of "social media content creators". Namely, one who earns money with advertising.
The authors of the study were able to identify different types of social media content creators after interviewing the participants in the study. For example, they differ in whether the focus is more on a person or on a topic.
What motives do teenagers and young adults have for following certain social media personalities? The study was able to identify six different motives. They range from entertainment to creating social closeness to providing inspiration, orientation and knowledge or enabling people to have their say. Young adults with a primary need for knowledge turn more to content-focused offerings, while adolescents are more inclined to person-focused channels from which they hope to gain identification and orientation.
The young people who were interviewed are quite critical of influencers, for example when it comes to independence in the case of advertising-financed providers or to competence when social media personalities with a wide reach comment on complex political issues.
About the Study