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CDCS Book Talk: Emily Hund

February 27, 2023 12:15pm-1:30pm
  • Annenberg School for Communication, Room 300
Audience Open to the Public

"The Influencer Industry: The Quest for Authenticity on Social Media"

Cover of Emily Hund's book, "The Influencer Industry: The Quest for Authenticity on Social Media". Green cover with green and pink leaves on the top and bottom borders

Photo Credit: Georgia de Lotz / Unsplash.

Before there were Instagram likes, Twitter hashtags, or TikTok trends, there were bloggers who seemed to have the passion and authenticity that traditional media lacked. The Influencer Industry tells the story of how early digital creators scrambling for work amid the Great Recession gave rise to the multibillion-dollar industry that has fundamentally reshaped culture, the flow of information, and the way we relate to ourselves and each other.

Drawing on dozens of in-depth interviews with leading social media influencers, brand executives, marketers, talent managers, trend forecasters, and others, Emily Hund shows how early industry participants focused on creating and monetizing digital personal brands as a means of exerting control over their professional destinies in a time of acute economic uncertainty. Over time, their activities coalesced into an industry whose impact has reached far beyond the dreams of its progenitors—and beyond their control. Hund illustrates how the methods they developed for creating, monetizing, and marketing social media content have permeated our lives and untangles the unforeseen cultural and economic costs.

The Influencer Industry reveals how, in an increasingly fractured and profit-driven communications environment, the people we think of as “real” are merely those who have learned to exploit the industry’s ever-shifting constructions of authenticity.


Emily Hund posing sitting down, crossing her legs and smiling

About the Speaker

Emily Hund, Ph.D., is the author of the forthcoming book, The Influencer Industry: The Quest for Authenticity on Social Media (Princeton University Press), and a research affiliate at the Center on Digital Culture and Society at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. She writes, speaks, and consults on topics related to social media, consumer culture, and technology and creative industries. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication in 2019. Before her research career, she worked as a magazine writer and social media editor, and earned bachelors degrees in journalism and sociology from Penn State University.



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