Making it real on social media: exploring authenticity strategies for sport and fitness influencers

Marta Massi, Chiara Piancatelli, Andrea Vocino, José I. Rojas-Méndez

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review


Authenticity is a multi-faceted construct, encompassing various dimensions such as originality, truthfulness, and genuineness. Its importance is particularly significant in social media influencer (SMI) marketing, although it is also paradoxically threatened by it. This article aims to emphasize the relevance of implementing strategies that promote influencer authenticity when collaborating with brands on social media platforms. The study focuses specifically on how sport and fitness influencers maintain their authenticity while partnering with brands. The research design includes semi-structured interviews, content analysis and an experiment. The study reveals that influencers in this industry adopt authenticity management strategies, which are shaped by two motives: (internal vs. external) and three drivers (i.e., attractiveness, reliability, and expertise). Six different strategies that combine these two elements are identified. Results also indicate that SMI authenticity has a significant main effect on SMI credibility, and that SMI-brand fit mediates the relationship between SMI authenticity and SMI credibility. Managerial implications and avenues for future research are identified.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Strategic Marketing
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Influencer Marketing
  • SMI authenticity
  • SMI credibility
  • Social Media Influencers (SMIs)
  • Sports & Fitness


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