When the Friend Became a Salesperson: A Qualitative Study of Blog Advertisement's Influence of Credibility Perception

Mette Vinther Sørensen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

In the ever-changing world of Web 2.0, new marketing channels and ways for the companies to reach the consumers have emerged. Consumers experience new ways of gathering inspiration and information before a purchase, and one of these new ways is via blogs. With blogs being a rather new tool for companies to engage in, it offers a whole new dimension to traditional marketing – the dialogue including the personal perspective on recommendations. This thesis focuses on how blog advertising impacts the way blog readers perceive the level of trust on beauty blogs. It investigates which parameters that affect the perception of trustworthiness on blogs in the eyes of the blog readers. To answer the research question set out for this thesis, the concept of social constructivism will be applied. The focus will be on how the meaning on blogs is created by the bloggers and blog readers. It is in the interaction between the different participants that the online world is created, and it is in this world the answer to the research question will be sought for. Following this, the chosen methods for this thesis are found in the qualitative field. It underlines that knowledge and the world is subjectively constructed between people and emphasizes the importance of people rather than measurable numbers. The theory framework includes theories on transparency, parasocial interaction, WOM and eWOM, trustworthiness, opinion leadership and match. Transparency helps determining which degree of transparency is necessary when publishing sponsored blogposts online whilst still maintaining ones trustworthiness. The theory of parasocial interaction can shed light on the importance of the so-called relationship the reader can have with the blogger and which effect this has on the trustworthiness. Different theories of WOM and eWOM are applied in order to learn how traditional WOM can be justifiably compared to the communication on blogs and how it works accordingly. Theories of opinion leadership are applied to understand the potential power the beauty blogger may have on influencing the blog readers in their upcoming purchase decisions. Finally, theories on match are applied in order to understand what the blog readers perceive as being a match and furthermore to learn what the consequences of a mismatch are. By interviewing blog readers on the subject, I gained insight into the minds of a small, but relevant segment of consumers and collected their thoughts on the topic. Through an interview guide prepared on basis of the research question and the theoretical framework, knowledge on how the use of blog advertising on a blog affects the perceived trustworthiness was established. It can be concluded that the perceived credibility is to some extent impacted by the use of blog advertising. The parameters that add trust to a specific blog is among others, honest and truthful communication. It is important that the reader can see that the blogger behind the posts is writing about an area of passion and interest. Following this, it is preferred that there is to some extent a match between the products mentioned on the blog, and the general theme of the blog. It is furthermore important that the blogger has a relevant background and knowledge on the subject. Where the blogger has gained the knowledge is not important; education, pure passion or autodidact does not matter, as long as there is incitement for communicating. Blogs are found to be useful to the readers in the matter of the critical stance. If the readers find a blog to be trustworthy, they value this information as much as information from a good friend. However, if the blogger appears to be bought to say certain things, she might as well have been a traditional advertisement in the mailbox – not trustworthy at all. In conclusion this thesis found that blog advertising does, to some extent, have an impact on the perceived credibility on beauty blogs. The use of blog advertising may affect the perceived level of trust in a positive way if used correctly, and consequently, in a negative way if the quality is poor.

EducationsCand.ling.merc Erhvervssprog og International Erhvervskommunikation (Multikulturel Kommunikation i Organisationer), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2017
Number of pages126