Mendoza School of Business

ND marketing prof wins award for influencer marketing research

Published: June 26, 2020 / Author: Carol Elliott



logos of many social media companies in a pile

University of Notre Dame marketing professor Christian Hughes won the American Marketing Association’s 2020 Don Lehmann Award for a research paper examining influencer marketing. The award, bestowed by the AMA Marketing Research Special Interest Group, was established in 1997 to recognize the best dissertation-based article recently published in the Journal of Marketing or Journal of Marketing Research in the previous calendar year.

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Christian Hughes

Hughes, assistant professor of marketing at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, received the award for “Driving Brand Engagement Through Online Social Influencers: An Empirical Investigation of Sponsored Blogging Campaigns,” which was among the top five most-cited article. It was also among the most downloaded articles published in the Journal of Marketing in the past six months.

The paper was co-authored with Vanitha Swaminathan of the University of Pittsburgh and Gillian Brooks from the University of Oxford. They collected a dataset of 57 sponsored blogging campaigns run by companies including AT&T, Walmart, Procter & Gamble, Chick-fil-A, Listerine, OshKosh B’Gosh, Chef Boyardee and Walmart between 2012 and 2016. The data came from The Motherhood, a social media influencer marketing agency focused on “mommy bloggers,” and involved 600 blogs and 1,800 posts. The researchers followed up the data analysis with an experiment to replicate their findings.

They noticed multiple factors affected success in generating online engagement (posting comments, liking a brand), depending on the type of platform, blog post content and the goals of the campaign — whether the company was trying to generate awareness for a brand or prompt consumer purchase. Read more about the study’s findings here.

Hughes’ research interests are in digital and social media, with a focus on influencer marketing and social influence. She collaborates with companies such as The Motherhood and Schell Games and has an interest in research questions that can help managers. Her research approach combines empirical analysis of secondary datasets with field and lab experiments.

She teaches social media marketing at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Prior to entering academia, she worked as a marketing research analyst for Management Science Associates Inc. and consulted for companies such as Avon, Danone, Georgia-Pacific and R.J. Reynolds. She earned her B.S. and M.A. in statistics and her Ph.D. in marketing from the University of Pittsburgh.

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