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Celebrities, Influencers Less Likable When Social Media Comments Are Disabled: Study


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Researchers from the University of Alabama and Vanderbilt University have published a study in the Journal of Marketing exploring the effects of disabling social media comments by celebrities and influencers. The study, titled “No Comments (From You): Understanding the Interpersonal and Professional Consequences of Disabling Social Media Comments,” was conducted by Michelle Daniels and Freeman Wu.

The research reveals that celebrities and influencers, such as Addison Rae, Hailey Bieber, Justin Timberlake, and Oprah, often turn off social media comments to avoid negative feedback. However, this action can have unintended negative consequences. According to the study, influencers who disable comments are perceived as less persuasive and likable compared to those who keep comments enabled, even when the comments are mostly negative. This insight is crucial for any influencer marketing strategy, as it affects how influencers can leverage their online presence to drive consumer engagement and sales.

In the digital age, influencers play a significant role in connecting brands with consumers by integrating their personal stories into brand content. Despite their popularity, influencers face considerable criticism and sometimes disable comments to protect themselves from negative sentiments. However, this behavior can backfire, impacting how consumers perceive and respond to their content, as demonstrated by the findings of this social media study.

Online influencers are seen as sincere and approachable because they engage directly with their followers, treating them more as friends than consumers. This engagement fosters a sense of intimacy and increases consumer interaction, which is essential for the success of any influencer marketing strategy. However, the constant feedback can be overwhelming and detrimental to influencers’ mental health, prompting many to disable comments.

The study highlights that disabling comments can harm influencers’ reputations. Michelle Daniels explains, “When influencers disable comments, they are perceived as less receptive to consumer feedback, or ‘consumer voice.’ This makes them seem less sincere and undermines their ability to connect and engage with followers.”

Leaving comments enabled, even if they are negative, suggests that influencers are open to public opinion and willing to learn from their actions. Conversely, turning off comments signals a dismissive attitude toward others’ opinions. Consumers may empathize with influencers who disable comments for personal reasons, such as grief or mental health struggles. However, they are less understanding when comments are disabled to avoid criticism, especially after a public apology.

These findings underscore the importance of balancing personal boundaries and audience expectations. While protecting mental health is crucial, how influencers manage their social media interactions significantly affects their relationships with followers and ultimately the influencer effect on sales.

The study also notes the growing importance of influencer marketing, with global spending expected to exceed $47.8 billion by 2027. Influencers and brands must carefully manage online interactions and clearly communicate reasons for disabling comments to maintain strong connections with their audience. This careful management is pivotal not only for maintaining the influencers’ personal brand but also for ensuring the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns in driving sales and consumer engagement.

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