The fitness industry has been growing rapidly along with an increasing amount of influencers on Instagram who endorse a healthy and fit lifestyle. While the growth of fitness influencers on Instagram brings opportunities for them such as influencer marketing and collaborations, their success also makes them prone to haters. However, research towards haters and the risks of influencers marketing seems to be limited. Current research merely focusses on the effectiveness of influencer marketing. Taken the above in account the main research question that is answered in this study is: What are the motivations of the haters of Dutch fitness influencers to engage in a negative way with their branded content on Instagram? The aim of this research thus is to tighten the literature gap on the risks of influencer marketing by exploring the phenomenon of haters in the context of Dutch fitness influencers on Instagram. The study is based upon the literature of the social interaction utility framework, the source credibility model and disclosure language. Qualitative interviews with ten participants who were found and identified as haters through the comments on the accounts of multiple Dutch fitness influencers were held to gather data. The data were analyzed using thematic analysis, based on open, axial, and selective coding. Three final themes emerged from the data; perceptions on Instagram use, utilities derived from negative engagement behavior, and aspects of the content of fitness influencers responsible for evoking negative engagement behavior. Regarding the Instagram use of haters, it was found that haters might differ on their perception on how to use Instagram, perceiving it as a platform where it is expected to share your opinions even when they are negative or hateful. Moreover, certain haters’ uses on Instagram were found to be inherently connected to their negative engagement behavior, such as using it anonymously or following disliked content creators on purpose. Based upon the social interaction utility framework, three main motivations were found to be related to the negative engagement behavior with the eWOM of fitness influencers on Instagram; concern for others, self-enhancing motivations, and venting negative feelings. Whereas self-enhancing motivations and venting negative feelings were found to be clearly related towards the definition of haters and their negative engagement behavior, the concern for others motivation indicated a need for a concept that is less related to the negative connotations around the concept of haters and more related to the negative engagement behavior as described in this study.

Additional Metadata
Keywords media, business, Haters, Instagram influencers, eWOM, Negative social media engagement behavior, fitness influencers
Thesis Advisor T. de la Hera
Persistent URL
Series Media & Business
M. Fraanje. (2019, June 24). Who are the haters? Exploring critical interactions with Dutch fitness influencers on Instagram. Media & Business. Retrieved from