The web of influencers. A marketing-audience classification of (potential) social media influencers

Gaelle Ouvrein, Sara Pabian, David Giles, Liselot Hudders, Charlotte De Backer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study aims to integrate the literature on social media influencers into a framework that classifies (potential) social media influencers and highlights their features. Previous classifications mainly focused on the measurable characteristics of social media influencers as determined either by scholars or consumers. In reality, though, the social impact of an influencer evolves as an interaction between his/her own goals and motivations and audience's perceptions and attributions. This study proposes a conceptual classification that combines the characteristics of social media influencers with audience’s perceptions of the social media influencer. The proposed classification consists of three types of top social media influencers–Passionate Business Influencers, Passionate Influencers and Celebrity Influencers and two types of potential social media influencers - Dreaming Business Dormants and Passionate Topic Enthusiasts. The differences between them are explained by celebrity status, authenticity and received revenues. The implications of our framework for marketers and research directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1313-1342
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Marketing Management
Issue number13-14
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Media
  • Social media influencer
  • audience
  • authenticity
  • celebrity
  • classification
  • prestige


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