If you use social media, chances are you also follow social media influencers, or have at least seen them on your timeline. Influencers are users who create social media content regularly and post it publicly on their social media channels, typically for a notable number of followers. Most influencers create their content for a specific, niche audience interested in a particular topic – some examples are influencers focusing on tech, fashion and beauty, fitness, or parenting. For many influencers, creating social media content has become a full-time job, and you may have noticed that some of their posts are sponsored by various companies. Indeed, many of us are now interested in knowing our favourite influencers’ opinions on a product or service before making the decision to purchase it. You may even feel like some influencers are kind of like your friends, even though you’ve never met them, because they share a part of their life with you, and you can relate to them. A part of this relatability comes from the language our favourite influencers use – it’s not just about the specific products or experiences they talk about, but how they talk about them.
In my postdoctoral research, I am particularly interested in studying the language use of social media influencers. What kind of things does an influencer need to consider when they start writing a post, when they sit in front of the camera and talk to their followers, or when they respond to comments? What is it about their way of speaking or writing that engages their followers and prompts them to interact? How is a relatable, entertaining and trustworthy “influencer identity” constructed through language use? These are some of the questions I’m hoping to be able to answer.
If you are interested in following along on my journey towards a better understanding of influencers, their communicative practices and their language use, I hope you follow this blog! You can also follow me on Twitter to get the latest updates regarding my research.