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Research Reveals Why Shutting Down Comments and Silencing Fans Could Sink an Influencer’s Career

A new study from the University of Alabama and Vanderbilt University finds that influencers who disable comments on social media are perceived as less persuasive and likable. 

The research, titled “No Comments (From You): Understanding the Interpersonal and Professional Consequences of Disabling Social Media Comments,” published in the Journal of Marketing, examines the negative consequences celebrities and influencers face when restricting audience feedback. Authors Michelle Daniels and Freeman Wu conducted experiments utilizing consequential and hypothetical measures.

Their findings indicate that consumers form more negative impressions of influencers who disable comments. Participants were less persuaded by these influencers compared to those allowing comments. This outcome stems from the perception that restricting comments signals the influencer is not receptive to consumer feedback and opinions, making them seem insincere.

Influencers often disable comments to avoid online criticism and promote mental health. However, the researchers discovered leaving negative comments can actually enhance an influencer’s credibility with audiences. While counterintuitive, consumers understand influencers taking reasonable measures for emotional self-protection, such as grieving a loss. Yet, restricting comments to dodging accountability after behaving controversially faces harsher judgment.

According to Daniels and Wu, the interactive relationship between influencers and followers is key to their success. An approachable persona increases consumer engagement and emboldens audiences to provide unvarnished feedback. Managing this dynamic by restricting comments undermines the sense of sincere connection influencers cultivate.

The study claims global influencer marketing spending reached $34.1 billion in 2023 and could surpass $47.8 billion by 2027. Read the full research here.

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Cecilia Carloni, Interview Manager at Influence Weekly and writer for NetInfluencer. Coming from beautiful Argentina, Ceci has spent years chatting with big names in the influencer world, making friends and learning insider info along the way. When she’s not deep in interviews or writing, she's enjoying life with her two daughters. Ceci’s stories give a peek behind the curtain of influencer life, sharing the real and interesting tales from her many conversations with movers and shakers in the space.

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