Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Business - Interdisciplinary

First Advisor

Scott Cowley

Second Advisor

Teresa Greenlees


Influencer marketing has grown immensely, and consumers are now frequently interacting with and making decisions based on content published by influencers on social media. This thesis explores how different types of endorsed influencer posts are perceived along with how the type of endorsed post can impact a consumer’s perception of the product and brand being endorsed. Using self-administered questionnaires, semi-structured interviews a simulated influencer content browsing experience, this research examines differences between influencer endorsements officially sponsored by a company, endorsements of products merely gifted by the company, and endorsements of products with no company involvement. Research findings identified a lack of trust that exists towards sponsored endorsed posts. Moreover, due to the incentives that are received by an influencer, participants perceived a lack of authenticity in these endorsements, leading to negative perceptions towards the product and sponsoring company. Organically endorsed posts were greeted more positively by participants due to higher levels of trust, authenticity, and credibility. This in turn, also resulted in creating a more positive association towards the products involved in these posts and a higher level of curiosity towards these products. Gifted endorsed posts had mixed perceptions as some participant found them to not have any bias due to no contractual agreements between the influencer and company, while some still believed that there is bias present due to the fact that the influencer is still receiving free products.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access