Jacobson (’20) Examines Influencers in Online Publication

Hope Jacobson (’20) is quickly gaining publishing experience in different formats.

The recent Loras graduate has already published two books and now has her thesis featured on the website VirtualHumans.org.

Hope Jacobson (’20)

Shared out in three parts, Jacobson’s thesis focuses on digital influencers and their impact on the larger world.

“I originally intended to base my research project on comparing and contrasting how human and digital influencers engage in Instagram advertising,” Jacobson explained. “However, I soon realized the number and variety of digital influencer accounts were so immense that it was worthy of studying without human influencer comparisons, and with a focus beyond just advertisement posts. The result was a deep dive into the world of digital influencers on Instagram and what their emerging presence online says about the evolution of pop culture, technology, marketing, and social behaviors.”

To develop her thesis, Jacobson said she “combined original interviews with qualitative and quantitative analyses of digital influencers’ Instagram accounts and reached conclusions about the social construction of reality and the use of technology to redefine what is considered ‘real.’”

The depth of her research is not a surprise to Professor of Sociology Lisa Garoutte, Ph.D.

“Hope is a gifted researcher,” Dr. Garoutte said. “She has incredible focus and attention to detail that allows her to see patterns that many would overlook. This, combined with her passion for justice work, has led her to critically examine the ways in which we perpetuate and challenge race, gender, class, and sexual inequities in media.

“During her sophomore year, Hope completed an extensive research project on portrayals of gender, race, and sexuality in Girl’s Life magazine. She conducted a content analysis of 60 issues spanning ten years of the publication. Her work was impressive, and she was able to present it at the Iowa Sociological Association’s annual meeting in 2018. In many ways, her work on virtual influencers is a continuation of that interest, focusing on how media attempts to shape how we perceive ourselves and our social world.”

Jacobson published two books during her time at Loras. The first, “Speakers in My Head,” shares how music directly tied to her experiences growing up with Asberger’s and anxiety. She followed that up with a reflection on battling an eating disorder in “Seeking Control: a Memoir.”

According to their website, VirtualHumans’s goal is to grow the virtual influencer industry through profiles (biographies on virtual influencers), articles (custom interviews, news, and research), resources, and off-site Q&A.

You can read all of Jacobson’s thesis here:

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Both of Jacobson’s books are available for purchase here.

About Loras College
Founded in 1839, Loras College leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. In 2019, Loras was the second-highest ranked Catholic college in the state of Iowa according to College Consensus, the 16th Best Regional College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and one of America’s Top 200 Most Loved Colleges/Universities by Forbes Magazine for the third consecutive year. Loras students ranked No. 2 in the world as part of the global Peeptrade Investment Challenge while a second group ranked No. 4. For the 10th consecutive year, Loras Media Studies student-led television station (LCTV) was named the TV Station of the Year by the Iowa College Media Association (ICMA).