Parasocial Interaction in the Digital Age: An Examination of Relationship Building and the Effectiveness of YouTube Celebrities

Leslie Rasmussen

Abstract


Since its inception in 2005, YouTube has allowed users to publish video content. Many have capitalized on the platform by amassing large followings and becoming bonafide YouTube celebrities. The beauty celebrity has become one of the most popular types of YouTuber, with some boasting over 7 million subscribers. Many brands have turned to YouTube celebrities to entice them to create user generated content that will serve as product endorsements aimed at a highly segmented audience. Viewers subscribe to watch the celebrities discuss a variety of beauty and lifestyle products or services. The interaction goes beyond simple product placement and branded entertainment, instead, viewers socialize with YouTube celebrities, whom may also serve as a product ambassador. In a sense, YouTube celebrities become a friend sharing their opinion. The traditional word-of-mouth opinion sharing is now on a grander scale, and in a more intimate setting. This study explored the interaction between YouTube beauty celebrity and viewer, and celebrity influence. Participants reported feelings of knowing and familiarity with speakers, thus revealing the occurrence of parasocial interaction. YouTube celebrities were also viewed as credible sources who were trustworthy. Findings provide insight for organizations to channel YouTube celebrities as they attempt to build relationships with highly targeted publics.


Keywords


parasocial interaction; YouTube; social media; influencers

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References


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