Influencers on Instagram: An Explorative Study of Influencers’ and Consumers’ Meaning Creation on Instagram

Isabella Dige Sveistrup

Student thesis: Master thesis


The rise of social media, such as Instagram, has changed the balance of power between consumers and brands, as these platforms enables peer recommendations to have a greater impact on consumer’s decision-making process (Forbes, 2014). Consequently, the influencers and their interaction with the followers, represents an interesting area of research. Despite the popularity of Instagram and the increasing focus on influencers among marketers, the amount of academic research upon the subject is very limited. The purpose of the thesis is to research how influencers and consumers create meaning from ‘instagramming’. Furthermore the thesis examines how influencers influence consumers on Instagram. The thesis follows an inductive research approach and the scientific theoretical approach consists of social constructionism and interpretivism. The empirical data have been generated through a qualitative research approach consisting of eight interviews, four with influencers on Instagram and four with consumers following influencers on Instagram. The empirical data have been coded, categorized and themed. The identified themes constitute the thesis’ findings. The findings have been analyzed and discussed in relation to theory on influence and meaning creation in order to understand how influencers and consumers create meaning from ‘instagramming’. Consumers create meaning from ‘instagramming’ by extracting cues from the influencers Instagrams. The cues the consumers extract are the outfits an influencer wears, the products and brands they use and how they use them, the restaurants they go to, the events they attend, the destinations they travel to, the people they hang out with, how they prioritize their time, how they live their life, how they brand themselves on Instagram and how to make pictures and how to be cool and fashionable. From these cues the consumers create meaning; meaning about life, meaning about brands, meaning about places, meaning about the influencer, and meaning about them self. The influencers create meaning from ’instagramming’ by acting meaning into existence. They enact that they are helpful and inspiring, and they enact their personal brand. The influencers also extract cues from their actions on Instagram and create meaning from ‘instagramming’. These findings add value to the academic research on influencers on social medias, and more specifically Instagram. This is of great value since Instagram is growing exponential. The findings are also valuable to firms or organizations that want to use Instagram influencers in their strategy to push their agenda or product.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages118