New Pub in International Journal of Advertising!

Excited to have this one done and dusted after many months in the review and revision process! I worked on this with three of our rising PhD stars and it was so much fun to see them in action. The manuscript will be published in the forthcoming special issue of the International Journal of Advertising on “Social Media Influencers and Advertising”.

Title: Why are consumers following social media influencers on Instagram? Exploration of consumers’ motives for following influencers and the role of materialism

Authors: Jung Ah Lee, Sabitha Sudarshan, Kristen L. Sussman, Laura F. Bright, and Matthew S. Eastin

Abstract: Despite the ubiquity of social media influencers (SMIs) and the clear value they hold for marketers, little is understood about the sociopsychological motives that drive consumers to follow them. The current research identified unique consumer motivations for following SMIs on Instagram and examined its association with important consumer behavior outcomes (i.e., trust towards SMIs’ brand-related posts and frequency of purchasing SMI-recommended brands) as well as materialism. Based on survey data, findings revealed four motivations for following influencers on Instagram – authenticity , consumerism , creative inspiration, and envy – which had varying effects on trust and purchase frequency. Additionally, materialism was a significant individual difference variable that was strongly associated with the four motives, some of which served as key mediators underlying materialism’s impact on purchase behavior. Managerial and theoretical implications for marketers and advertisers are discussed as well as suggestions for future research in this burgeoning area.

A permanent link to the article will be posted here once it is published online :).

Journal of Advertising “COVID-19 Pop-Up Section” Published

I am so happy to finally see this pop-up section in print! The process of co-editing this issue of Journal of Advertising began in Summer 2020 and is now available online here: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/ujoa20/current.

It was a learning experience to put together an issue like this and I am thankful for my co-editor, Dr. Hope Jensen Schau, for showing me the ropes. Out of 50 submissions, we accepted 8 excellent manuscripts that showcase the impact that COVID-19 has made on the advertising industry and consumer behavior. Hope and I wrote the introduction that speaks to the overall themes showcased in the issue.

Rituals and Celebrations

This semester I taught a PhD methods course to a small group of students in my department – the course is the second in a series and it focuses on learning about the popular methods in advertising research as well as how to apply those methods to answer their specific research questions. We also talk a lot about how to manage an academic career – How do you build a research track? How do you handle rejection from journals? What is this whole peer review thing? How do you get tenure? What does service mean? How do I teach and work on research at the same time? Do you really get the Summer off? etc. etc.

In answering those questions this term, I found myself thinking about the rituals I have created over the years to get me through the ups and downs of trying to publish (and not perish!). One of my favorites is buying myself a hand-carved gemstone fetish at the end of each academic year – not to celebrate a specific publication or award but simply to mark the time. I started doing this when I completed my doctorate in 2009 and have done it each year since so I now have a small army of beautifully carved animals watching over me in my office.

The collection started with a serpent made out of serpentine – snakes symbolize rebirth so it felt right as I moved from being a student to a professor. Each year I have tried to tie in a theme – I have a bear for a year that I felt especially strong, a horned frog for the year I was awarded tenure at TCU, a lucky rabbit for the year I got a sabbatical and so on. This year I got a badger because, let’s be honest, it has been a hell of a year in Zoom land!

Shelf filled with fetish animals and framed photos.

Office shelf with fetishes (L to R: Turtle, Lizard, Buffalo, Horned Frog, Bear, Rabbit, Fox, Otter, Serpent, Horned Frog, Rattlesnake, Badger).

So, why is this important?  Because, to be in this career you need to have things that celebrate the small wins to get you through so that you can make it to the big wins, too! An academic mentor of mine told me long ago to celebrate everything – all of those little steps along the way that get you to where you need to be – and not to hold out for the big career changing moments (because they are so few!). When rejections and disappointing outcomes happen, it sure is nice to have my little animal army to remind me that good things are on the horizon even if it simply means making it through the year.

A heart-felt congratulations to all of the students who graduated this semester as well as the faculty that made it through! This includes my first doctoral advisee, Emily Chadraba, who completed her doctorate and is now Dr. Chadraba. I hope all of my students who are embarking on new adventures will make it a ritual to come back to UT to tell me about their amazing accomplishments!

Laura and Emily at UT graduation in academic regalia

Drs. Bright and Chadraba at Littlefield House, UT Austin Campus

Another new publication!

Two accepts in a week – that RARELY happens :). Excited to see this one come out as well – this was a piece that I worked on with my PhD mentor (Dr. Matthew Eastin) and one of our UT PhD students who recently graduated (Dr. Jung Ah Lee). Available online through Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

Title: Fear of Missing Out and Consumer Happiness on Instagram: A Serial Mediation of Social Media Influencer-Related Activities

Abstract: Mounting research shows negative psychological effects for social media and recognizes fear of missing out (FoMO) as a key driver of social media use. This article focuses on social media influencers (SMIs) and investigates potentially positive forms of usage on psychological well-being (i.e., happiness), including how FoMO impacts consumer response to SMIs. A serial mediation model using survey data (N?=?604) indicates SMI-related activities are positively associated with a consumer’s happiness. Furthermore, SMI-related activities jointly and positively mediate the relationship between FoMO and happiness. Individuals higher in FoMO more frequently visited SMIs’ account profiles leading to more frequent purchasing of products recommended by SMIs, which in turn positively influenced happiness. Implications of the findings are discussed with suggestions for future research.

New Publication Alert

I am excited to announce that the latest paper from my research team at UT has been published – this was a joint effort between Kristen Sussman (PhD student), Gary Wilcox (Professor), and myself. The research took a mixed methods approach by combining text analysis with mobile polling data from 1Q.com. See title and abstract below – published in the Journal of Digital and Social Media Marketing.

Title: Facebook, trust and privacy in an election year: Balancing politics and advertising

Abstract: Prior to the US 2020 presidential election, both Twitter and Google announced changes to their political advertising policies. This article explores trust and privacy issues relating to social media while evaluating current public opinion regarding political advertising on Facebook, which unlike Twitter and Google, has remained steadfast in its support for political advertising. The study uses a textual analysis of Twitter data collected from conversations in October 2019 to provide a snapshot of public rhetoric at this point in time. Results from the text analysis identify trends around the upcoming election, political advertising, Russia and Trump. Topics are further investigated using an online survey panel of 300 participants. ANOVA results indicate that privacy concerns are a key driver of desire to remove political advertising. The results suggest that user perception of Facebook advertising is decreasing as a result of privacy concerns related to trust in the platform. Political advertisers should therefore reevaluate their communication strategy with regard to Facebook advertising.

Keywords: Facebook; misinformation; online advertising; online trust; political advertising; privacy; public opinion

Next we will be working on a text analysis regarding COVID-19 vaccine hesitation – more coming soon.