Social media platforms have become a highly relied upon social lifestyle for contemporary people and have even transformed into an essential part of life. With the development of technology and techniques of online media platforms, the Internet has embarked on the path of commercialization. This blog focuses on “digital influencers” and discusses how the popularity and development of social media platforms have influenced the commercialization of the Internet.
The Transformation of Social Media Marketing
The prevalence of e-commerce and the diversification of marketing models have made the Internet’s “social media marketing” strategy popular in all countries. For example, the public is familiar with platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Weibo, and TikTok. Digital software that supports sharing and disseminating content belongs to the “social media platforms.” These social media platforms target different groups of users based on age, hobbies, content, lifestyle, and other labels. At the same time, they provide a very convenient and effective way to promote products and brands and generate revenue through sponsored content. Through the Internet’s powerful propagation speed and traffic, advertisers and companies utilize precise user group segmentation to place their messages and advertisements according to the product audience. Then, the users often active in this online community become potential customers, leading to precise customer cultivation. This can be interpreted as a purposeful, targeted, and accurate marketing approach. Tamar Weinberg breaks down the terminology – the idea behind social media marketing is to use “social” to “market” to your “constituents” through “media” (communication and tools). Marketing” to your constituents. (Weinberg, T. 2009)
Social media marketing has become a way of life and a means of survival on the Internet. Multimedia content, such as audio, video, images, and live streaming, are being reproduced and shared in new ways, and these translate into media marketing tools that connect service providers, companies, and businesses with consumers and influencers. Internet users can find separate accounts created by companies for their trademarks on Facebook and Instagram platforms, publicizing official purchase URLs and channels on Weibo to learn about and spread brand stories, publicize brand word-of-mouth, and join in building a customer base, facilitate sharing with customers; on TikTok by browsing through brand-created live streaming accounts and live streaming to learn about and purchase the products displayed and marketed. Social media marketing enables branded companies to communicate product information to a wide range of potential users, build brand image and relationships with consumers, gain traffic and visibility, and continue to manage branded product reputations within the consumer base.
“Digital influencers” are driving the commercialization of the Internet
The term “Digital influencer” has appeared in the public eye in recent years, which is a new type of celebrity with the rise and development of the Internet and social media platforms. By sharing their life content or new things in online media and social media platforms, they attract users with similar hobbies and develop followers to gain attention and popularity among online users. This traffic resource has evolved into a cashable way to become a new e-commerce model – for example, by accepting advertisements – where suitable advertisers and promotional content can commission high-profile influencers and then pay for their promotions based on the total number of followers, as well as the quality of the content and the online influence. The quantitative study results emphasize that the characteristics associated with digital influencers may directly and positively impact the purchase intention of recommended fashion products (Gomes et al., 2022).
As the most prevalent digital influencers, bloggers produce content for digital platforms and share their opinions and feelings. These influencers can disseminate information and influence communities in the digital environment. When commissioned by brand companies to advertise their products, these bloggers record useful information and feelings about using and experiencing them on the platforms, observing and offering advice based on their professional experience and providing insightful commentary. The brand’s products raise awareness and gain exposure through this information dissemination method. The audience may develop an interest in and learn about their product and eventually become a potential customer or client. “Digital Influencer Marketing has become an effective influencer of the public’s consumption of products. Studies have shown that the quality of media content published by digital influencers and social interactions on platforms positively impacts the purchase intention of fashion brands (Gomes et al., 2022).
Reflections on the Limitations of Social Media Marketing and Future Perspectives
Although the shift in social media marketing has been successful and sustainable for the present, there are still certain limitations in the field that could point to future trends in social media marketing. Firstly, while Digital influencers act as effective agents in driving the commercialization of the Internet, prolonged marketing and commercial activities can capitalize on and merit the Internet business environment. At this time, there may be problems such as false propaganda by influencers, some promotions that violate ethics and laws to earn commissions, or triggering imitations that influence the thoughts and behaviors of the next generation of Internet users. Secondly, the development of the new Internet era promotes the digitization of society and life, and the traditional way of life is gradually replaced. The resulting problems concern middle-aged and older people accustomed to traditional lifestyles. These groups need to be more active in using digital tools, which may cause issues such as declining traditional businesses and disengaging from modern business maintenance and shopping methods.
These issues are worth reflecting on. First, social media marketing is subject to the policies and rules set by the platforms. Online social media platforms are developing multifaceted and targeted regulations and systems of use for the platforms based on the development process, which has effectively curbed the problems of ethical content posting and influence that are currently involved and have emerged. A review and descriptive analysis of social media platform policies for marketing marijuana by Carla J. Berg et al. showed that all platforms refer to restricting (and highlighting minors) access to marijuana-related content, with most social media platforms prohibiting marijuana sales. (Berg et al., 2023) Thus, it is clear that policy updates and serious regulatory measures are valued and effective in regulating the Internet environment. There will be a need to regulate and adapt to utilitarian behaviors.
In addition, there is a wide variety of social media platforms, and some devices and applications with a long history still exist and thrive. For example, Facebook has dominated the social media market for a decade, Twitter, YouTube, and other significant social media sites have been around for a decade or more (Esteban, 2019), and these social media sites are still popular among the older population. However, social and intellectual progress and development have advanced and increased the curiosity and acceptance of new things among contemporary people. The products of the digital age of the Internet, based on “convenience and speed,” are easy to learn and use for all groups, and all of us are “freshmen” who need to learn and practice in new programs.
Berg, C. J., LoParco, C. R., Cui, Y., Pannell, A., Kong, G., Griffith, L., Romm, K. F., Yang, Y. T., Wang, Y., & Cavazos-Rehg, P. A. (2023). A review of social media platform policies that address cannabis promotion, marketing and sales. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy, 18(1), 35–35. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13011-023-00546-x
Esteban, O. O. (2019, November 18) The rise of social media. Published online at OurWorldInData.org. https://ourworldindata.org/rise-of-social-media
Gomes, M. A., Marques, S., & Dias, Á. (2022). The impact of digital influencers’ characteristics on purchase intention of fashion products. Journal of Global Fashion Marketing, 13(3), 187–204. https://doi.org/10.1080/20932685.2022.2039263
Weinberg, T. (2009). The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web (1st ed.). O’Reilly Media, Incorporated.