School of Communication and the Arts


Doctor of Philosophy in Communication (PhD)


Robert Mott


social media, communications, rhetoric, Aristotle's Rhetorical Triangle, Social media influencers, Narrative paradigm, content analysis, rhetorical content analysis, ethos, pathos, logos, mythos, health communication




With the emergence of social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, social media influencers (SMIs) have been a growing source of information in the health and wellness industry. Through their creative, informative, and appealing content, SMIs have the innate ability to reach and attain a large following on social media platforms. The purpose of this study is to ascertain an understanding of the persuasive tactics employed by SMIs in the creation and dissemination of information in the health and wellness industry. Using the theoretical framework of Aristotle’s Rhetorical Appeals and Fisher’s Narrative Paradigm, this qualitative study seeks to examine the key persuasive tactics used by SMIs in the health and wellness industry. Using content analysis, the social media content of SMIs was collected and analyzed to find emerging themes related to the rhetorical appeals and narration. In addition, a comparative analysis of the persuasive tactics used by SMIs and subject-matter experts (SMEs) was conducted. Findings showed that SMIs rely heavily on the appeals that allowed them to present themselves as credible, relatable, and similar to their followers; SMEs rely strongly on the logos appeal using technical language, memes, and textual graphics to educate the audience. Through this study, using the findings of the content and comparative analysis, a list of best practices of key persuasive tactics has been established to enable SMEs to be more effective in encouraging online users to adopt health information.

Included in

Communication Commons