Author ORCID Identifier
Year of Publication
Master of Arts (MA)
Communication and Information
Dr. Laura Fischer
Dr. Mengtian Jiang
Since 2019, Instagram has been testing the removal of a visible like count on posts. This change particularly pertains to social media influencers whose popularity is visibly displayed through the number of likes and comments their posts receive. Therefore, the present study experimentally investigated how varying levels of the like (i.e. hidden, approximate, and exact) and comment (hidden and exact) display on Instagram’s Explore page affect user’s credibility evaluations of unknown influencers. Guided by the Heuristic Systematic Model, MAIN Model and Warranting Principle, this study conducted a 3 (like display: hidden likes, approximated number of likes, and exact number of likes) x 2 (comments display: hidden comment count and visible comment count) x 2 (influencer type: travel and food) mixed-design online experiment. Three hundred twenty-eight participants were randomly assigned to one of six conditions in which they viewed two posts in a random order, one from a fictional travel influencer and one from a fictional food influencer, and then responded to questions regarding their perceived source credibility of the influencers. The results show that the visibility of likes and comments does not significantly affect source credibility perceptions of influencers. Thus, this study offers practical implications for influencers that Instagram’s removal of a visible like count will not harm their credibility. Also, this study provides suggestions for future studies to uncover what factors affect an influencer’s perceived source credibility on the Explore page of Instagram.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Wallace, Madison Lea, "The Persuasive Power of Instagram Metrics: Examining How User-Generated Cues Affect Consumer’s Perception of Influencer Credibility" (2021). Theses and Dissertations--Communication. 106.