Description

This study examines the relationships between the success of Instagram health and fitness influencers and the images they share. As social media continues to grow as a source of information

This study examines the relationships between the success of Instagram health and fitness influencers and the images they share. As social media continues to grow as a source of information and interconnectedness, the sway influencers hold over their followers and potential consumers grow too. The success of these influencers in gaining followers, motivating opinions and achieving an aesthetic physique, result in monetary gain. On the media site Instagram, influencers with one million followers can garner over $50,000 per sponsored post. Specifically, the research focuses on four Instagram influencers who have over 200,000 followers. The subjects, Amanda Bucci, Nikki Blackketter, Maxx Chewning and Christian Guzman, were selected based on their popularity within the weight lifting community. Together, these influencers have over 400 million followers on Instagram. The study analyzed 32 photos sourced from the influencer's Instagrams. Of the 32 images, 16 were selected as branded content and 16 were selected as candid content. These images were then coded to answer the following research questions: (1) is there a pattern in the visuals weight lifters share, (2) is there a difference between branded or candid content, (3) how do these similarities or lack thereof influence number of Instagram followers and financial success, and (4) what physical dimensions contribute to a weight lifter's success on Instagram? This study uses content analysis to understand the symbolic meaning of texts and visuals. With the findings showing recurrent themes between (1) posture of subject, (2) use of brand affiliation and (3) professional grade photography, we confirm that bodily capital, sponsorship and authenticity are successful tactics used by influencers to generate a following.

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