From Hobby to Business: The Challenges of Professionalising the Influencer Profession

Cecilie Knudsen & Maria Juel

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to explore the profession of influencer marketing in relation to creative industries and professionalisation. The study aims to fill in a gap within existing marketing literature on influencer marketing, as influencer marketing has never before been studied in relation to creative industries and professionalisation. The importance of this study is particularly relevant as influencer marketing is an emerging industry heading towards a complex process of professionalisation. The argument is, that if we do not understand the essence of influencer marketing, it becomes challenging to handle its process of professionalisation properly and we risk killing the industry.

Through an explanatory study of semi-structured interviews with five influencers and three industry experts, we capture the essence of influencer marketing. Our findings show that influencer marketing has several characteristics in common with creative industries, and therefore qualify as a creative industry. Furthermore, we identify five challenges to the professionalisation of influencer marketing: (1) an in-conclusive definition of influencer marketing; (2) an industry with no rules; (3) influencers’ lack of development of skills and personal competencies; (4) influencers’ unwillingness to be organised; and (5) a missing acknowledgement of the professionalisation as a shared responsibility. Thus, the research raises the question, whether a categorisation of influencer marketing within the creative industries with respect to its own traits, will shed light on the industry's capabilities and vulnerabilities, and improve its process towards professionalism and acknowledgement.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages123
SupervisorsFabian Csaba