Celebrity Endorsement in Social Media

Celebrity Endorsement in Social Media

Andrea Schlüschen
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9787-4.ch137
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Social media have not only become an important part in the everyday-life of consumers, but also of brands and celebrities, who utilize Facebook and Twitter to communicate with their fans and stakeholders. These channels opened companies the possibility to engage with customers, because the interactive nature of social media enables the establishment of conversations among individuals and firms. Moreover, they can provide pre-economical advantages, e.g. increased ad awareness or purchase intentions (Neff, 2010).

Compared to traditional media, online social networking sites (SNS) offer relatively cheap ways to place advertisement. With a budget of $1 million, a Facebook ad could reach 125 million views, whereas for the same budget, two 30 seconds TV ads at prime time reach only 19.5 million views (Nair, 2012). Additionally to purchasing ad space, businesses can create posts with advertising content on their Facebook page which is for free. Unfortunately, the organic reach, meaning the amount of people one can reach with these free posts, has dropped drastically from about 16% in April 2012 (Facebook for Business, 2012) to approximately 6% in 2015 (Facebook, 2015). To broaden that distribution, companies can also sponsor these posts, but moreover, they have to pay attention to the users’ engagement on their page. On Facebook, the algorithm ‘Edgerank’ ranks the content based upon the interest of the users that ‘liked’ the brand’s page resulting in an expanded organic reach. This is not limited to Facebook, since success in advertisement in all media is closely related to its ability to be in line with the users’ interests (Deane and Pathak, 2009).

Using celebrities in order to promote a company’s product or brand is a very established advertising technique. With the rising of Web 2.0, celebrity endorsement did not completely change but it adapted. According to a Visibli (2011) study, the pages of brands and celebrities have one crucial difference. Whilst on brand pages the customer engagement decreases with an increasing number of fans, the average fan engagement increases on celebrity pages. Moreover, the reaction on their posts in terms of likes and comments is nearly twice as high compared to brand posts (Kilian, 2012). Using the concept of celebrity endorsement in social media, brands have the opportunity not only to increase the engagement on their own page, but also to advertise on the celebrity’s page, with higher organic reach and additionally approaching new potential customers.

In practice, multiple brands already involve their celebrity endorsers in social media campaigns, like L’Oréal (e.g. Eva Longoria), Adidas NEO (Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez), Keds (Taylor Swift), or Nike (e.g. Cristiano Ronaldo). In theory, only few attempts have been made to investigate the effects, opportunities, and limitations of celebrity endorsement in social media like Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr. But social media changed brand management significantly. Though traditional media are also omnipresent, the dynamics and interactivity of social media present new challenges. And as markets change, the marketing theories must also be altered to adapt the new situations (Kozinets, Valck, Wojnicki, & Wilner, 2010).

This chapter represents a literature review on the field of celebrity endorsement in social media, starting with a look on research findings in traditional media and then considering the social media environment. The structure of social media, social networks, and the role of brands, fans, and celebrities will be presented, leading to the current state of celebrity endorsement research within social networking sites. The chapter is concluded by recommendations for future research.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Facebook: A free online social networking service with over 1 billion users that allows to create profiles, upload photos and videos, send messages, post status updates, and add other users as “friends”.

Customer Engagement: A customer-based metric capturing the behavioral activities of customers towards a company or brand, including word-of-mouth, customer recommendations and complaints, and the participation in brand communities.

Social media: Interactive Internet-based applications that allow to create and to exchange user-generated content, such as online ratings, video sites, blogs, and social networking sites.

social networking sites: Websites that allow individuals to create a public/semi-public profile connecting users to each other, such as Facebook.

Twitter: A free online social networking service with over 500 million users that allows to read and send short messages with up to 140 characters, called “tweets”.

Celebrity: Person of great popular interest that is widely known for its outstanding skill in a specific field.

Celebrity Endorsement: A type of advertisement that involves a famous person to advocate a brand or product.

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