How Social Media Influencers Build a Brand Following by Sharing Secrets
23 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2015
Date Written: November 10, 2014
We examine how and why bloggers and other influencers might share secrets online. Based on an exploratory survey of bloggers and the literature on secret sharing, we examine the use of secret sharing as a strategy for audience building. Our results suggest that online influencers disclose intimate personal information, and that, for a subset of these people, this means sharing information they considered secret. In contrast to secret sharing in other domains, this secret sharing by influencers does not appear to be particularly emotionally taxing or therapeutic. Rather, online influencers share secrets for strategic reasons in order to build relationships with their audience and their brand following. As such secrets are usually about the self and for the audience’s direct benefit. Future research should look at the consequences of sharing secrets and when this strategy is likely to be effective, as well as how public personas such as bloggers might redefine what they consider secret over time.
Keywords: social media, blogging, secrets, disclosure
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