I am an Influencer and I Approve This Message! Examining How Political Social Media Influencers Affect Political Interest, Political Trust, Political Efficacy, and Political Participation
This study surveyed a random sample of social media users (N = 813) to examine how following political social media influencers (PSMIs) affects political interest and political trust. The study also examined whether political interest and political trust affect internal and external online political efficacy (OPE) and political participation. Structural equation analysis indicated that following a PSMI increased political interest and political trust, with a pronounced effect on political interest. Additionally, political interest boosted both internal and external OPE, while political trust boosted external OPE only. Mediated effects analysis indicated that political interest improved the relationship between following a PSMI and internal and external OPE, respectively, while political trust did not. However, neither type of OPE improved political participation.