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EMAC 2023 Annual

The Power of Sensory Language in Influencer Marketing

Published: May 24, 2023


Giovanni Luca Cascio Rizzo, PhD Student/LUISS Guido Carli University; Jonah Berger, University of Pennsylvania; Matteo De Angelis, Luiss University; Rumen Ivaylov Pozharliev, Assistant Professor/LUISS Guido Carli University


Influencer marketing has become a major strategy. However, its effectiveness depends on what influencers post. Some posts resonate and boost sales, while others do not. Could subtle differences in language be a cause of such variation? This work investigates how sensory language (words like “tasty” and “soft” that engage the senses) might shape consumer responses to influencer-sponsored content. Five studies, combining automated text analysis of thousands of social media posts with controlled experiments, demonstrate that using sensory language increases engagement and purchase. Further, the studies illustrate that the effects are driven by authenticity. Sensory language makes people believe that influencers actually use the product promoted, which increases perceived authenticity, and in turn, engagement and purchase. These findings deepen understanding of how sensory language shapes consumer responses to influencer-sponsored content, reveal a psychological mechanism through which sensory language affects perceptions, and provide actionable insights for composing more effective social media content.