BRANDING BREAKDOWN: INFULENCER MARKETING- Contextual Essay

This semester I have successfully produced the information/ research based digital artefact ‘Branding Breakdown’ focusing on ‘Influencer Marketing’. Hosted on WordPress the blog looks to help social users to gage further understandings on the operations of this marketing field. Through this content, my aim was to showcase the methods and strategies brands implement to attract us into buying products. I my research behind this topic to enlighten readers on how this form of marketing has both positive and negative attributes, as well as the exploring notions of trust for consumers with distribution of authentic products. Initially, this artefact was constructed to just showcase the facts and methods behind social influencers. Whilst this did look to be an an informative platform, I wanted to push past descriptive content as these sites are already available. Looking to stand out amongst competing sites, I focused on constructing a source for audiences to discover more about this practice, looking at techniques through the relation of physical examples to illustrate how authenticity and what to avoid. Speaking with Chris, I also wanted to conduct several interviews to gage young individuals experiences with this marketing strategy. With competing blogs only focusing on information based content I looked to produce a mix of scholarly and peer opinions, covering all areas of this marketing strategy, leading more readers towards this site as it host all this content on a single platform.

Although influencer marketing targets a wide range of audiences, I looked to target my content towards young individuals due to their prevalence throughout social media. Focusing on these individuals I was able to use popular influencers as examples to further explain the message of my content. With influencers like ‘Bella Thorne’ and ‘Lili Reinhart’ directing their own branding to target young people, implementing them throughout this blog helped to ensure my content was easily understandable. With this artefact targeting young individuals, utilising topics from this audience looked to produce engaging content through the use of this prevalent issue. Although WordPress is a great source to host this artefact I was worried that it wouldn’t have the potential to reach my target audience compared to traditional social platforms. With this in mind I utilised Cooper Smith’s article from the Business Insider Australia to determine the platform that best targets my demographic. With the article providing statistics and information on many social apps, Smith’s research compares the opportunities these platforms offer revealing Instagram to have a strong connection with young adults, with users stating they use the app “several hours a week or more”. Using this research I focused my examples around influencers with popularity based on Instagram. While this platform wasn’t the most suitable to host the amount of content, I found implementing these aspects ensured that young individuals were able to connect with these arguments.

Looking at this artefacts trajectory, with the influx of influencer displayed across social platforms, this blog looks to be a valuable source for individuals. This content is beneficial as it illustrates these techniques, whilst also helping to simplify this strategy for social users who are not familiar with these processes. Businesses are also able to utilise and compare this content to their own campaigns, to further build their brand and best target young individuals using these techniques. Hosting both successful and unethical case studies from other business will look to drive these businesses towards more ethical behaviours, as they are able to learn of others mistakes. With influencers already curating a large following the longevity for audiences intrest in this blog will remain stable, as these flowers are constantly researching to ensure they can trust these individuals.

Although I have previous experience with blogging already throughout my degree, when first commencing this artefact I utilised sources like Crick and Winfield’s article on academic blogging to assist with maintaining professionalism throughout my content. Although these post display are more relaxed style of writing, I wanted to ensure I was conveying my arguments clearly so readers were able to benefit from this work. During the course of this artefact, it was easy to identify the success and limitations regarding our project and social platforms. Reinforcing its positive attributes, my choice of WordPress worked the best in highlighting my content. Managing these posts with the sites features was very simple to navigate due to my experience of blogging in the past, leading to a consistent outflow of content weekly. Having all my posts featured under one tab extension, the pages were easy to find having the content and cases studies as the focal point. WordPress as a platform was a great way to feature other fields of media like photos, gifs, news and videos to visually support my content. This was most beneficial when embedding examples from Instagram as I was able to utilise the benefits from both applications. However, a limitation that I did face was having a lack of customisation ability when designing the overall blog. When first constructing the page it was difficult to sort through templates and find a design that showcased my work clearly without changing my overall blog. Along with this I did have to replace some added plugins as they were producing the page to slow down. Luckily these issues were easily manageable and I was able to configure a design that best showcased both my media and written work.

In conclusion, through research and testing, I definitely feel we have been successful in producing original work that many young people can turn to as a valuable source of information and interactive content. Looking at providing both a supportive and entertaining service, this platform is definitely something I look to continue throughout the following years, inside and outside of my studies. Undertaking this project has shown me through establishing guidelines and targets throughout research and collection of data, this will therefore ensure the best quality work as well as a deeper understanding towards your audience and overall topic.

Contextual Essay References:

Full References List:

Proposal:

  • Brown, D., & Hayes, N. (2008). Influencer Marketing: Who really influences your Customers?. London, :Routledge.
  • Lu, L. C., Chang, W. P., & Chang, H. H. (2014). Consumer attitudes toward blogger’s sponsored recommendations and purchase intention: The effect of sponsorship type, product type, and brand awareness. Computers in Human Behavior, 34, 258-266

Relevant Research Post:

Post: An Introduction to Influencer Marketing:

Post: Cost and Pricing:

Post: Authenticity:

Post: The Shift of The Celebrity

Post: Interviews and Consumer Thoughts

 

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Blog Post 3: Live Tweeting Curation

Throughout this session, live tweeting has given me the opportunity to express my thoughts and opinions on the films/programs watched in class. While some have been successful in sparking discussion and activity, others failed to draw in conversations. The following is a breakdown of my top tweets spanning over 8 weeks.  

Week 1: Ghost in the Shell (Film 1995)

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As this was my first time live tweeting this session, I didn’t have much experience. At first I really struggled coming up with ideas to tweet because I wanted to ensure I was focusing on the film. I was expecting most of our tweets to just focus on being academic, just discussing the cyberculture aspects of each film. However, when coming up tweet ideas I was more focused on the advancement of this technology, rather than ensuring my tweet was scholarly.

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Along with this, I received my first interaction on my post by one of my peers commenting on this tweet. This interaction sparked the idea to focus on having a mix of both academic and humours tweets as these are the ones that I noticed were gaining activity.

Week 2: Westworld (Film 1972)

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Using the activity from last weeks tweets as a guideline, for week 2 I aimed to get at least one of my tweets to spark a comment. Using the idea of ‘stereotypes’ I found this was a great factor to implement for this film due to its cliche nature and the date of its development. As most of my peers grew up in an age with modern technology for films, I was hoping that by commenting on the production value of Westworld , this would look to spark some activity. Surprisingly enough, the only interaction I received from this week was from Chris himself. While he brought up some interesting points, for the next upcoming weeks I wanted to ensure my tweets were engaged to not only Chris but my peers as well.

Week 3: Johnny Mnemonic (Film 1995)

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Playing off the strategy from last week, when composing this tweet I wanted to focus on highlighting the films sense of tackiness contrasting with the films of today. Whilst I’m not to sure Keanu Reeves would enjoy my tweet, I did enjoy seeing some of my peers relate to this post through giving it a like. For this week I did mix in more academically focused content for my other tweets but there was a lack of engagement looking back at them now, mostly only scoring one or two likes. I was finding it difficult to ensure all my tweets get even interaction so for the next upcoming films that was something I definitely looked to work on.

Week 4: The Matrix (Film 1999)

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The Matrix is a popular film so I was not surprised discovering most of my peers have already watched it as they were able to come up with quick ideas for tweets. As this was my first time watching the film I did struggle keeping up with both the film and also creating content. Knowing this I decided to play off my strengths in past weeks and tweet something that looked to focus on relating to my peers rather than the film. With this, I seemed to get a great response as my posts were starting to connect more with others. Gaining more interaction off these tweets I decided that my content will centre more around humour and reliability in the next coming weeks to see if I could stay consistent.

Week 5: Black Mirror (S2E1: Be Right Back 2013)

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As Black Mirror is a fairly popular program, students throughout the class had strong opinions on this show. Knowing this, I found it very difficult to stand out or collect engagement for my posts this week as the feed was flooded more than usual. While many collect reviews from sites like rotten tomato, I decided to test my theory of relatable content for this week. Whilst this tweet did fairly well, I did wish that I sparked further conversations with others for this week as a lot of my peers had contrasting arguments. In future I look to implement this strategy for my own posts to see if I can gain the same interaction as I do for my post with relatable content.

Week 6: Robot & Frank (Film 2012)

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Looking at my tweets from past weeks I noticed that I had a lack of embedded media. As many of my peers were already implementing reviews and articles, I decided to utilize my strategy of  humor and incorporate gifs. Looking memes throughout the timeline, they really looked to stand out amongst other posts, drawing more engagement to my tweets and overall page. Using a popular show like Parks and Recreation was a great choice as it allowed me to utilize the comedic aspects from the show to contrast the serious scenario of Franks arrest in the film. With this being the highest peak of engagement on my page all semester, using visual practices throughout these posts looked to very beneficial.

Week 7: Black Mirror (S3E6: Hated in the Nation 2016)

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Using week six as a guide, for this episode of black Mirror I was hoping to maintain/ improve my tweet engagement. However, with this being my highest liked post for this week I feel I wasn’t successful. Discussed previously, these episodes of Black Mirror spark the most conversations and interactions and many of us have already seen these episodes. Whilst my post looked to still implement my previous strategy that worked in past weeks,  I definitely feel like I missed an opportunity to gage others thoughts and spark a discussion, which although probably wouldn’t have received as many likes, it could have drawn more activity my overall page and gave my posts more substance.

Week 8: Blade Runner (Film 1982)

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This week I wanted to focus on changing up my content, steering away from comedic posts as I have been incorporating this a lot throughout this session. With this I hoped to spark a debate/ conversation with other peers to gage their thoughts on the film. Unfortunately looking at my tweets I struggled to gain any activity for this week, only gaining a total of one or two likes on my posts. Although Chris did engage with some of the tweets from this week, I can see that I have more success with my classmates reacting to my posts incorporating humor and relatable aspects rather than tweets that are more academic. Going forward I think that it is important to incorporate a balance of comedic and academic aspects throughout you posts to gage the best response for audiences.

 

 

Blog Post 2: Branding Breakdown- Influencer Marketing

For this session I have started to develop a research/ information based blog on Influencer Marketing for social users to gage further understandings of the operations behind this field. With this I will post about the methods and strategies brands implement to attract us into buying products.  I look to use my research behind this topic to enlighten readers on how this form of marketing has both positive and negative attributes. Throughout my posts I will explore this notion trust for consumers as well as the distribution of authentic products.

For my upcoming project I am looking to produce around 6 posts. The sources I look to utilise throughout these posts include:

Post 1: What makes an Influencer?

Planning out this post I utilised Kristien Forbes’s journal article on the examination of the beauty industry and the use of social influencers. As Forbes works under the Strategic Communications for Elon University I found her article to be a great source for developing this post. Although there were many sources that discuss what makes up these influencers, her example of linking the beauty industry to these marketing techniques breakdowns these strategies with a successful example. This article also touches on new forms of monetization and payment methods from these posts, diving deeper into why some of these individuals choose to promote unethical products. Freberg, Graham and McGaughey’s 2010 paper on social media influencers and the study of public perceptions of personality is another source that I found very helpful for this post. Stating that “ social influencers represent a type of third-party endorser, shaping audience attitudes” (2010) the article looks to discuss the influences behind popularity on social media and how these individuals achieving fame. Although I am not an influencer myself, these papers are  useful as they act as a way to uncover this lifestyle, helping us understand how these influencers are developed. This information will also be beneficial for my presentation as it acts as a way to describe and introduce the topic to individuals who are not familiar with this marketing strategy.

Post 2: Research on Influencer Marketing? What makes it more effective over others?

For this  post I look to use sources that highlight the effectiveness of influencer marketing for brands. ‘Mediakik.com’ is is the main source I look to use to build this post. The sites research provides statistics and data to help support and strengthen my arguments, reporting that total spending on Instagram influencers in 2017 amounted to $1 billion, and projects that advertisers will spend $1.60 billion on Instagram influencers in 2018 and $2.38 billion in 2019. The use of this research will showcase how these social platforms are growing at a prodigious rate, highlighting the effectiveness of these advertising channels for brands.  Another aspect of this source highlights the user reach and income made off these posts. An example I look to use through ‘Mediawix’ research is celebrities platforms like ‘Beyonce, The Rock or Justin Beiber’ as they are currently the most expensive influencers, charing up to ”$1 million to share a sponsored post with her 106 million followers. Utilizing these statistics and sources throughout my upcoming presentation will look to highlight effectiveness of this marketing as well as the power these individuals have.

Post 3: Testing Analytics on Instagram- Are these suggested products something I would actually purchase? Are they correctly catered towards my likes? 

For the post I plan to use my own Instagram analytics to showcase how these social platforms track and use our online activity to sell product. The Guardians, Danny Bradbury’s article ‘Effective Social Media Analytics’ is a source that I will be looking at whilst conducting this experiment. Touching on our digital footprint, Bradbury’s paper looks at the increase of our online data trail and how these business look at diverse parts of our analytics, depending on their goals. What I found the most interesting in his research is his discussion on tracking customers and prospects on social media to see what keywords they are discussing, therefore folding those keywords and concepts into adverts, updates or tweets to target that audience. I feel this experiment will be great to display in my presentation as well as it will give my classmates and opportunity to understand these analytic processes as well as creating awareness for patterns throughout their own social platforms.

Post 4 & 5: How to spot an authentic post? & Examples and research on unethical brands:

I wanted to create and step by step guide for audiences to discover more about these posts and how they play with notions of trust. Doing some investigation I have found a great example with the teeth whitening company ‘Hismile’ and their unethical practices. With this research I am going to be incorporating the social platforms of influencers to use as examples of these unethical practices. This post is one of the most important throughout my blog as it looks to use research collected from influencers themselves ‘exposing’ these brands. I definitely feel this angle will connect with audiences the most as were the people affected by these posts. Although I plan to go in-depth throughout my blog, I also plan to touch on this throughout my presentation as a way of drawing people to visit the blog so they can read the full story.

Post 6: Short Interviews – Asking students questions on if they have purchased items recommended by an influencer and why?

Throughout my research I wanted to conduct a small portion of interviews with people from different ages to gage if they have been persuaded/ have purchased items promoted by an influencer through these social platforms. Raymond Opdenakker Online Journal ‘Qualitative Social Research (2006)’ is a source that I looking to use to ensure I get the most out of my interviews. With the source highlighting both the advantages and disadvantages of qualitative research,  I am planning on using these techniques as a guide to avoid future problems when conducting my research. Opdenakker’s discussion of different interviews styles has boarded the scale of individuals I originally looked at using for my data, with his techniques surpassing face to face interviews and moving towards a more social and online basis. As this project is based around online content I definitely feel this will be a smart approach to both this post and the overall project.

References:

  1. Bradbury, D. (2013). Effective social media analytics. [online] Available at: The Guardian. (2013). Effective social media analytics. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jun/10/effective-social-media-analytics [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018]. [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018].
  2. HiSmile. (2018). Teeth Whitening Kits | Whitens in 10 Minutes | HiSmile. [online] Available at: https://hismileteeth.com/ [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018].
  3. Forbes, K. (2016). Examining the Beauty Industry’s Use of Social Influencers. Strategic Communications -Elon University. [online] Available at: https://www.elon.edu/u/academics/communications/journal/wp-content/uploads/sites/153/2017/06/08_Kristen_Forbes.pdf [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018]
  4. Freberg, K., Graham, K., McGaughey, K., & Freberg, L. A. (2011). Who are the social media influencers? A study of public perceptions of personality. Public Relations Review, 37(1), 90-92. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2010.11.00
  5. Lee Saunders, B. (2018). Twitter Status. [online] Twitter. Available at: https://twitter.com/britt_saunders/status/983211704564662272 [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018]
  6. Mediakix | Influencer Marketing Agency. (2017). The Biggest Instagram Influencer Statistics Reshaping Social. [online] Available at: http://mediakix.com/2017/09/instagram-influencer-statistics-shaping-social/ [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018]
  7. Opdenakker, R. (2006). Advantages and Disadvantages of Four Interview Techniques in Qualitative Research. [online] Qualitative-research.net. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/175/391%26sa%3DU%26ei%3DFdsJTdDCGYOnrAer0YjVDg%26ved%3D0CP4BEBYwXg%26usg%3DAFQjCNEsC2J0wILvNuH7LEhQaA2znBkKvw [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018].

 

Proposal: Influencer Marketing

The communication environment for businesses has significantly changed with the emergence and growing popularity of social networking sites. Scrolling through our timelines today we are bombarded with popular influencers promoting products through brand sponsorships. From weight loss teas to teeth whitening kits, these brand partnerships are hard to avoid and are a powerful marketing strategy that many companies are capitalising on. These well-known users sharing their experiences and opinions have become a trusted source of information for consumers “with 74% of individuals relying on social media to influence their purchasing decisions” (Bennett, 2014), therefore leading to a decrease in traditional advertising. These developments have forced advertising industries to adapt and rethink
traditional marketing strategies in order to effectively reach consumers, thus the development of influencer marketing.

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Influencer marketing is designed to tap into an existing community of engaged followers throughout social media. Influencers are specialists in their niches. Due to their influence over audiences they look to help brands/companies reach further engagement in exchange for profit/ promotion. This marketing practice is based on influence theory, which advocates the idea that a small percentage of key individuals can be effective at persuading a great amount of others. Rather than marketing towards a large group of consumers, influencer marketing uses these individuals to drive a brand’s message to the larger market and influence buying decisions. Marketing was originally focused on “offline opinion leaders, like journalists or industry analysts, to gain positive coverage” (Brown & Hayes, 2008). Companies target selected journalist, giving them access to information, their spokespeople and company events with the goal of building a long lasting relationship and facilitate positive coverage. With the digitalisations and shift of businesses, the focus of marketing has shifted from offline to online opinion leaders, as they offer a wider reach via their social networks. As we know by looking at our own social platforms today, digital influencers can be bloggers, celebrities or other individuals which are followed by a large amount of people online, taking place on personal blogs, commercial websites and the most popular Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat.

A modern influencer marketing practice is to send free products to an influencer, hoping that they will use and like it and decide to recommend it to their followers. Other times, companies pay online influencers to promote their product and post about it. However, what inspired my interest in this topic was the immense trust consumers hold in opinions posted by others online, with these individuals thoughts and recommendations being looked at over established brands and companies. In their paper ‘Consumer Attitudes Toward Blogger’s Sponsored Recommendations and Purchase Intention: The effect of Sponsorship Type, Product type, and Brand Awareness’ Lu and Chang state “The growing popularity and large user numbers of social networking sites also had a great impact on consumers purchasing decisions. Today, consumers rely more than ever on recommendations from their peers” (2014). It made me think, how does the everyday person know what post’s to trust and what are the signs off unethically promotion?

For this session I have decided I am going to develop a research/ information based blog on Influencer Marketing for social users to gage further understandings of the operations behind this field. With this I look to post about the methods these individuals use as well as how these strategies are implemented to attract us into buying products.  I look to use my research behind this topic to enlighten readers on how this form of marketing has both positive and negative attributes.

Future post topics I look to discuss:

  • What makes an Influencer?
  • Research on Influencer Marketing? What makes it more effect over others?
  • The Power of Social Media
  • Examples of Positive Influencers and Campaigns
  • Examples of Negative Influencers and Campaigns
  • Testing Analytics on Instagram- Are these suggested products something I would actually purchase? Are they correctly catered towards my likes?
  • Tips on avoiding inauthentic sponsored posts
  • Survey- Asking students questions on if they have purchased items recommended by an influencer and why?
  • Podcast Interview with an Influencer? What is it like? How do you remain genuine?

I decided to choose WordPress to host my work as the content is communicated directly to readers and is most common amongst young people. Many of us already use the site and are the majority of the targeted market for these campaigns/ promotional posts. With this blog my aim is to highlight what factors contribute to unethical forms of Influencer Marketing, enlightening readers on how they can avoid campaigns that feed false information.

References:

  1. Brown, D., & Hayes, N. (2008). Influencer Marketing: Who really influences your Customers?. London, :Routledge.
  2. Lu, L. C., Chang, W. P., & Chang, H. H. (2014). Consumer attitudes toward blogger’s sponsored recommendations and purchase intention: The effect of sponsorship type, product type, and brand awareness. Computers in Human Behavior, 34, 258-266