How Social Media Influencers Build a Brand Following by Sharing Secrets

23 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2015

See all articles by Soyean (Julia) Kim

Soyean (Julia) Kim

Boston University - School of Management

Seema Pai

Boston University - Questrom School of Business

Barbara A. Bickart

Boston University, Questrom School of Business

Frederic F. Brunel

Boston University

Date Written: November 10, 2014

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Kim, Soyean (Julia) and Pai, Seema and Bickart, Barbara A. and Brunel, Frederic F., How Social Media Influencers Build a Brand Following by Sharing Secrets (November 10, 2014). Boston U. School of Management Research Paper No. 2549040, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2549040 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2549040

Soyean (Julia) Kim

Boston University - School of Management ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Seema Pai

Boston University - Questrom School of Business ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA MA 02215
United States

Barbara A. Bickart (Contact Author)

Boston University, Questrom School of Business ( email )

United States
617-353-3458 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://smgnet.bu.edu/mgmt_new/profiles/BickartBarbara.html

Frederic F. Brunel

Boston University ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617 353 4609 (Phone)
617 353 4098 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://smgnet.bu.edu/mgmt_new/profiles/BrunelFrederic.html

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