Social Media Influencers: The New Brainwashers

My name is Jess and I have been paid to post on Instagram.  Don’t worry, I’m rolling my eyes too.  Working in the fashion industry, I have been sent clothing, products, event invitations, and on one occasion money to post about a particular campaign.  What struck me, was how willing these brands were to hand over these free things to me, simply because I had an ok amount of followers. I’m certainly no celebrity or expert on anything really, but I am privy to these benefits because people are willing to chuck me a like and a comment every now and then.

I don’t think of myself as an “Influencer”- but I guess you could say I am having some sort of influence over my followers.

The social media influencer, has divided opinions since we first saw them rear their well dressed (“check out my #FashionNova discount code for sweet threads!”), toned (“I have so much energy thanks to #SkinnyMeTea!”) exfoliated heads (“#FrankBod makes my skin feel so soft!”).  So why do we have this attitude towards social media influencers?  Do we really like people telling us what to wear, eat and buy? Especially when it’s coming from those who arguably don’t have any professional knowledge to offer us other than their own popularity. Or, do they have more to offer than we give them credit for?

How do we define the influence these social media stars have over us?

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Framework: Digital Influence Pillars by Brian Solis (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Simply Measured  explains that there are three defining factors when determining whether an individual has this power online.

  • Reach– Can they touch an audience that is beneficial to your brand?
  • Resonance– Is their content engaging and does it resonate with their audience and your brands values?
  • Relevance– Does their content have relevance or does your brand share likeminded values with the individual (Smitha 2014)?

One thing that isn’t mentioned here is the number of followers, or amount of reach the influencer must have-  huge numbers aren’t always important, being able to have influence over smaller-niche markets could be just as valuable.

Gen Z will be the first generation that interacted with technology and social media essentially from birth.  Brands are now learning that to market to these young people- they have to change with the times. A printed ad in a newspaper simply won’t have the same impact anymore. It has to be online, and it has to grab their attention in a shorter space of time.

The average American’s attention span is down to eight seconds from 12 in 2000. That’s why Gen Z prefers quick communication, largely rooted in images, quick videos and emojis. (Hulyk 2015, p32)
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student_pad_school by Brad Flickinger (CC BY 2.0)

Hulyk  (2015, p.34) mentions a study conducted by Variety in 2014 that surveyed Gen Z to determine who , based on a number of factors was viewed more favourably to them- celebrities or YouTube stars.  Based on their approachability, authenticity and influence- all five individuals that were chosen were Youtube stars. This generation listen more to people they can relate to.

We hear of influencers charging exorbitant amounts for one post, but is it really worth it and how can we determine an appropriate cost? Australian Influencer agency TRIBE created a ballpark rate card for what influencers could charge per post according to their research.

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2016, ‘Rate Card’ – Source: TRIBE

What this doesn’t take into account is the influencers who are buying followers and faking their engagement.  I have personally seen acquaintances churning out the sponsored posts to their 15k+ followers- 10k of which are fake.  Some would argue that misrepresenting your following online and charging a premium rate could essentially be cyber fraud.  Gillin and Moore (2009, p. 77) say that ‘there is no one metric, formula or service that can reliably measure influence’.   So basically brands are left with the option to do their own research and to use their common sense before shelling out the big bucks.

The above graphic from Social Media Today (click on the link in the tweet), shows that brands struggle most with finding influencers that are relevant.  They are also skeptical of its validity since it is such a new form of marketing. ‘When everyone is free to produce whatever content they want and publish it without fact checking or compliance, how can online recommendations be trusted'(Brown & Fiorella 2013, np.)?

Scott Disick did exactly what brands are scared influencers will do-not taking their position seriously and abusing that trust- motivated entirely by the pay-off and not by the want to create quality, engaging content.  Whatever you do, just don’t be like this Di(si)ck. #FacePalm.

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2016, ‘Instagram Star Accidentally Posts Paid Sponsor Instructions in Caption’ – Source: PetaPixel


References:

Smitha, M 2014, ‘How to define, Identify and Engage Social Media Influencers For Your Brand’, Simply Measured, weblog post, 2 April, retrieved 16 August 2016, < http://simplymeasured.com/blog/how-to-define-identify-and-engage-social-media-influencers-for-your-brand/#sm.0000169ty41te7ej0zijzjagrqg93 >

Hulyk, T 2015, ‘MARKETING TO GEN Z: Uncovering a New World of Social Media Influencers’, Franchising World, Vol. 47 Issue 12, p32-35, retrieved 16 August 2016, Database: MasterFILE Premier

Gillin, P, Moore, G 2009, The New InfluencersA Marketer’s Guide to the New Social Media, Quill Driver Books, California

Hutchinson 2016, Challenges of Influencer Marketing, infographic, retrieved 16 August 2016, < http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-business/state-influencer-marketing-infographic >

Brown, D, Fiorella, S 2013, Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing, Que Publishing, USA

Cade, D 2016, ‘Instagram Star Accidentally Posts Paid Sponsor Instructions in Caption’, PetaPixel, weblog post, 20 May, retrieved 16 August 2016, < http://petapixel.com/2016/05/20/reality-star-accidentally-posts-sponsor-instructions-instagram-caption/ >

#ALJ710 Come together, right now.

When we think of the idea of convergence, we generally think of it as the merging of two or more things.  But what does that mean for Journalism?  Holmes, Hadwin & Mottershead (2013,p210) describe it as “the coming together of different media platforms- for example tv and online.”

As a Gen-y’er it’s starting to get difficult to remember what life was like before all the technological advancements, and a world ruled by social media and the world wide web.  I have fond childhood memories of the weekend paper delivery- my family and I would sit around the table with breakfast, each of us reading a different section of The Herald Sun.

Nowadays I would rather Google current affairs on my iPhone/iPad or tune into the radio on my drive to work.  The daily newspaper that is delivered to my parents house often sits unopened for days and my Mum now proudly tells me of her online subscription to The Age and The Herald Sun.  It’s almost as if reading a physical Newspaper is too much commitment- our lives are so full and busy, the thought of setting time aside to read the paper is a little too much. And why would we when we have this third arm attached to us, where we can reach the news 24/7?

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2014, ‘Man on Toilet on iPhone’. Source: Gizmodo

News outlets have been forced to adapt or simply bust.  Our changing requirements as readers in combination with the saturation of technology is now defining what we are given by the news organisations. Kolodzy (2012, p.1) explains that the youth of today are favouring social media platforms such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter and Instant messaging as a way to receive news.  And, as one of those “youths” I would have to agree.  My main sources of news come from articles I click on that have been shared on Facebook or Twitter or perhaps when I’ve Googled something that was currently topical.  I would not consider logging onto the online version of The Herald Sun to cipher through the articles of the day.
‘If Audiences have to multitask via Twitter and Facebook and YouTube, then today’s journalists have to multitask there as well’ (Kolodzy 2012, p.5).  Journalists are now expected to go above and beyond a simple researching and writing task but now have to be competent and confident across many digital media platforms too.

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2013, ‘Are Newspapers dying?’. Source: Marketinomics

So what does this mean for print? Well currently nearly 90% of many print Newspapers profits are coming from advertising revenue .   In terms of online- Paywalls, increasing the price of single print copies and subscriptions has been found to stabilise and even increase revenue in some successful cases (Rogers 2015).  So they aren’t dead just yet, they are simply forced to make their money in more creative ways.


References:

Holmes, T., Hadwin, S., Mottershead, G., 2013, ‘Chapter 8, Convergence’, The 21st Century Journalism Handbook, p210

Devoe, N 2015, ’17 Things Your Parents Had To Do Before The Internet’, seventeen, weblog post, 13 February, retrieved 3 August, <http://www.seventeen.com/life/friends-family/a24295/crazy-things-parents-did-before-the-internet/&gt;

Kolodzy, J 2012, ‘What’s old is new, what’s new is old’, ‘Practicing Convergence Journalism’, Routledge, p.1&5

Rogers, T 2015, ‘Are Newspapers Dying or Adapting in the Age of Digital News Consumption?’, About News, weblog post, 16 November, retrieved 3 August 2016, < http://journalism.about.com/od/trends/a/papersdying.htm >

 

 

 

 

#ALC701 Sex, Law & Social Media

I recently asked a group of my girlfriends how many of them had received unsolicited “di*k pics” and was shocked when 4 out of 5 said they had- and often.  “It’s just part of the online dating thing, if you’re on these sites you kind of just expect it”, one said.   As someone who has been in a relationship for the past four years, I counted myself lucky for missing out on this dating right of passage.  That was until I opened my Instagram direct message one day to find the genitals of a stranger glaring back at me.   Many questions flooded my brain.  Did I display any behaviour that would make this stranger think I would be pleased by his message?  What kind of response was he hoping for? And also just general feelings of confusion and repulsion! (Sorry random internet man!)

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A super accurate representation of receiving an unsolicited di*k pic on Instagram.

I essentially felt a little violated, and concerned that this was such a commonplace event, with little to no repercussions for the sender.  Let’s be honest- there is nothing wrong with two consenting adults sending and receiving these type of messages, and of course there are people who enjoy a surprise flash of genitals on their smart phone, but what is the go when it is completely unsolicited and unwanted?

After a little research I found I wasn’t the only one questioning this. ‘It’s essentially cyber-flashing, the real world’s online equivalent, and should be treated as seriously’ (Thompson 2016).  Thompson mentions that flashing in public can carry a sentence of up to two years in prison in the UK. However ‘cyber-flashing’ and where it stands in a legal sense is still up for contention.  According to the BBC, a woman in the UK reported an incident to police that took place on a train (Bell 2015).  Lorraine Crighton-Smith was sent two photos of a strangers genitals on her phone via the Apple Airdrop function.  The case was investigated but could not be taken further due to the lack of evidence considering Crighton-Smith did not press accept on the images.  So other than cases where there is a distinct lack of evidence to work with; why is it taking us so long to clearly distinguish where the law stands on this issue?

Dr Deb Waterhouse-Watson (Twitter on Trial: Digital Media and the Law 2014) explains that ‘Law is a heavy and slow moving creature, party because it needs to be.’ She goes on to say that the Law itself needs to take into account all the issues surrounding digital media to therefore make any changes or to put laws in place.

Some people are now beginning to take matter into their own hands, to hold those accountable for their online harassment, whilst the law struggles to catch up with the rapid growth of technology and digital media.

Clemintine Ford is one of those people. In 2015 Ford contacted a Man’s employer after he left a derogatory comment on her public Facebook account, which then led to his dismissal.  ‘There are basically no consequences for men who behave like this, so we have to start making consequences for them’, Ford explains (cited in SMH 2015).

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fired by Sean MacEntee (CC BY 2.0)

But what happens when the photos that are circulating are of yourself and without your knowledge or consent? In 2014, the state of Victoria made it a punishable offence- one that could result in up to two years of imprisonment for perpetrators (Henry 2015). This online sharing of intimate photos taken by a current or ex-partner without consent -is essentially a crime of the modern age.  One that is greatly influenced by the rapid expansion of technology and social media.  Up until the last decade or so, it has been something we haven’t really had to consider, but now with the accessibility of photo sharing services, it is more common than ever.

The nature of technology is progressive- forever evolving and always thinking ahead, whereas the Law only changes when it needs to catch up.  Does this mean we just accept the odd moment of digital ‘harassment’ in exchange for freedom on the internet?

 


References:

Thompson, L 2016, ‘#DickPics are no joke: cyber-flashing, misogyny and online dating’, The Conversation, weblog post, 3 February,  retrieved 1 August 2016, <https://theconversation.com/dickpics-are-no-joke-cyber-flashing-misogyny-and-online-dating-53843&gt;

Bell, S 2015, ‘Police investigate ‘first cyber-flashing’ case’, BBC, 13 August, retrieved 1 August 2016, <http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33889225&gt;

Kosoff, M 2015, ‘How to use AirDrop, Apple’s incredible feature that lets you share pictures, video and more with nearby friends’, Business Insider, 18 October, retrieved 2 August 2016, <http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-use-apple-airdrop-2015-10/?r=AU&IR=T&gt;

Twitter on Trial: Digital Media and the Law 2014, YouTube, Dr Deb Waterhouse-Watson, 7 September, retrieved 2 August, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7b9xXw0ymg&gt;

Levy, M 2015, ‘Hotel worker Michael Nolan sacked over Facebook post to Clementine Ford’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 December, retrieved 2 August, <http://www.smh.com.au/national/hotel-worker-michael-nolan-sacked-over-facebook-post-to-clementine-ford-20151130-glc1y4.html&gt;

Henry, N 2015, ‘Factbox: Revenge porn laws in Australia and beyond’, SBS, 15 October, retrieved 2 August, <http://www.sbs.com.au/news/dateline/article/2015/07/13/factbox-revenge-porn-laws-australia-and-beyond&gt;

 

 

#ALJ710 Multimedia Journalism and the modern world.

According to Jane Stevens (2014), Multimedia Journalism is a non-linear form of storytelling that combines various media elements that complement each other, rather than being implemented to simply repeat or reaffirm information.  The concept of complimentary media elements is something that is seen to be vital to the classification of Multimedia Journalism- ensuring that readers remain engaged and do not lose interest over repetitive data- thus ‘detract(ing) from the (reader) experience’(McAdams 2014).

Are multimedia elements used in stories structured in a linear fashion?

There are still instances of multimedia elements being used in traditional lineal formats.  We often see this during large scale events, such as the recent shooting in Munich.  In this case The Telegraph summarised the events in the standard beginning, middle & end format, and included the use of maps, amateur video (citizen media) and infographics. A live blog was also updated as new information was made accessible.

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2014-15, Household Use of Information Technology, Australia- Source: ABS

This evolution of journalism is something that can be attributed to the advancement of technology– the introduction of the internet, the accessibility of an internet connection and lightening-speed development of the tech in which we can receive our news.  The days of casually perusing a newspaper over breakfast are slowly dying out as we now favour viewing concise, interactive updates on our mobiles or tablets.

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2014, ‘Technology doesn’t make us less social, it just changes the way we socialise.’ Source: Techdirt

This is simply better suited to our changing lifestyles- we are no longer limited to the morning delivery from the paperboy, and can now access the news whenever we have a spare moment.  Richard Sambrook (cited in Holmes, Hadwin & Mottershead, p.210) explains that the introduction of the internet and our ability to now readily search and discover means that news organisations are no longer the ones in control of what we know.


 

References

Stevens, J 2014, ‘Tutorial: Multimedia Storytelling: Learn The Secrets From Experts’, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, weblog post, 2014, retrieved 24 July 2016, <http://multimedia.journalism.berkeley.edu/tutorials/starttofinish/&gt;

McAdams, M 2014, ‘(Re) Defining Multimedia Journalism’,  Thoughts on Journalism, weblog post, 10 April, retrieved 24 July 2016, <https://medium.com/thoughts-on-journalism/re-defining-multimedia-journalism-1f4966df37bc#.hx5iwyo8a&gt;

Alexander, H., Henderson, B., Palazzo, C., Heighton, L., Rothewell, J., Weise, Z., Turner, C., Huggler, J., 2016, ‘Munich shooting: Teenage killer Ali Sonboly ‘inspired by far-right terrorist Anders Breivik’ and ‘used Facebook offer of free McDonald’s food to lure victims”, The Telegraph, retrieved 24 July 2016, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/23/munich-shooting-german-iranian-gunman-targeted-children-outside/#update-20160724-0013&gt;

ABS, 2016, ‘Households with internet access at home, 2007–08 to 2014–15’, graph, ABS, retrieved 24 July 2016, <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/8146.0&gt;

Photographer Unknown, 2014, ‘Not much has changed over the past 100 years’, photograph, TechDirt, retrieved 24 July 2016, <https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140804/20514528111/technology-doesnt-make-us-less-social-it-just-changes-way-we-socialize.shtml&gt;

Holmes, T., Hadwin, S., Mottershead, G., 2013, ‘Chapter 8, Convergence’, The 21st Century Journalism Handbook, p210