Zina Gorin in front of her research poster

On December 4, 2019, I presented the results of a research project I’ve worked on for six months with professors Kara Bentley, Ph.D., Charlene Chu, Ph.D. and Cristina Nistor, Ph.D. about eco-influencers using social media. I am a double major in Economics and Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing and am graduating one semester early, this December. In addition to my coursework, I am a member of the professional business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, which has played a huge role in my time at Chapman University. After I graduate, I hope to find a career in marketing in the entertainment or fashion industries.

Working with my faculty advisors, we analyzed how consumers interact with influencers on Instagram: who they trust, how deeply they engage with influencer content and who they follow regularly. While working on this project, I gained a lot of knowledge on conducting research and compiling data. I spent countless hours looking online for eco-influencers, a segment of influencers that has yet to be tapped into fully. I captured information on the likes each post received and the number of comments consumers left on the posts. Additionally, I had to ensure that the sponsored ads were noted in the caption as #sponsored, #ad, or noted as a paid partnership and then find a placebo post that was similar but not sponsored by a brand or company. We analyzed how engagement and trust varies across levels of influencer followers: we compared large influencers with millions of followers to small influencers with a few hundred followers.

At the Student Scholar Symposium, I was the only student from the Argyros School of Business and Economics and was excited to share what we found. I presented in the Undergraduate Research Session on December 4th. We found that large celebrity influencers get more “likes” on their posts, however smaller “micro” influencers lead in terms of consumer engagement and trust through many more comments left on the posts. We also found sponsored posts are generally more engaging for “micro” influencers while organic posts tend to be more popular for “celebrity” influencers. I hope to meet more business students in future research poster sessions!