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Instagram consumer culture- shopping/e commerce , influencers and brand matching, brands seeking influencers through purchasing item yourself then promoting on your page (the deeper story)
With developed markets, economic growth is heavily predicated on consumerism. In these instances, consumers are enticed to purchase products designed to make like more enjoyable, convenient, and easier. These products are ultimately backed by strong brands which look to occupy a niche within the consumer mind. Traditionally, this was accomplished through print and television advertisements. Companies such as Sears and JC Penny pioneered shopping catalogs designed specifically to entice consumers to purchase a litany of various products, goods and services. With television, ads were run consistently during prime-time periods to further generate mind share with the consumer unconscious psyche. Brands such as Coca-Coca, Proctor and Gamble, and Johnson & Johnson began to emerge during this period and dominated using these traditional forms of advertising. Today, the overall competitive landscape has shifting with companies such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter company large amount of consumer time and resources. Likewise, the influence to traditional print and television have been altered forever. Print distribution for example, is no longer relevant to the younger more digital savvy consumer demographic. Instead consumers are using digital channel is which to distribute their products. Likewise, traditional television usage is also decline due to consumers elected not to purchase cable but instead use streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. All of these trends have allowed Instagram to occur a unique niche in the shopping and advertising arena. For one, the platform has a captive customer base with no viable product alternative in the market. It uses typically spend large amount of their time on the platform. The platform becomes much stronger with each additional user that joins it, thus created a network effect that can not be replicated by other competitor. Finally, the product itself is addictive and relies heavily on need for validation and group approval. This is an innate human instinct which ultimately bodes well for the platform in terms of influencing consumer shopping behavior. All of these trends show now signs of abating and therefore show how powerful Instagram has become at owning, controlling, and influencing consumers preferences and shopping behavior.
To begin, Instagram retrieves is shoppers through its core networking platform. The platform is unlike any other social networking site in that it relies heavily on pictures and videos designed exclusively to show the best attributes of an individual. The network is powerful due to the natural need for validation. From a historical perspective, humans have always succumbed to the need for validation and acceptance. During the early years of homo sapiens species, much of civilization were hunter-gathers. In these instances, small groups tended to remain together as the scoured the earth for food and sustenance. Here, acceptance was needed as the group needed to work together in order to survive. Those that were outcast who often cast of the of the group and therefore had much more difficulty surviving on their own. Here, those within the group looked for acceptance in order to remain within the group and increase their ability to survive. This same concept is leveraged by Instagram albeit in a much more subtle manner. In this instance, Instagram uses a system of “follower” and “like” to create small pockets of groups. These are very similar to the “hunter-gathers” discussed above as these Instagram groups tend to want to get along with each other and look from validation from each other. The notion of obtaining a “follower” is akin to a member joining the hunter-gatherer group. Likewise, being unfollowed is akin to being an outcast and thus leaving the hunter-gatherer group. The network becomes powerful as more individuals, seeking this validation obtain “followers” and “likes.” As users earn more and more validation, their group becomes bigger and their influence grows. To obtain more validation the user continues to post similar content for the same validation. This activity becomes addicting and a never-ending loop of feedback mechanisms from users looking for acceptance and validation, following those who have the validation they are seeking, and posting images to improve their influence on others. As a result, users tend to stay on the platform for long periods of time and are captive within it. Thus, Instagram has obtained millions of potential shoppers on its platform.
Once the shoppers are obtained, Instagram must then attract merchants to the platform. Merchants will be attracted to large and captive number of shoppers using the Instagram platform to engage with one another on a daily basis. In addition, they are interested in the real-time data analytics that can occur through customer interactions on the platform. Merchants for example, can easily view what shoppers find attractive and what they fund…often look to mislead others about the life they live, their wealth, their social status and so forth. Again, this is also related to low self-esteem and a desire for validation. Brands can easily take advantage of this constant need for validation, likes and followers by scamming users. These users typically have very low follower counts to begin with and are therefore much more prone to the scam. Brands for example, leverage this need by attempting to collaborate with other users on the platform. Here, the brand will typically use cutesy language and emojis to create a sense of community with the user. The brand then contacts the user via a brief a brief comment or a direct message. The collaboration offer is vague, typically leaving the user with unanswered questions related to the nature of the collaboration. The user typically messages the individual back as for further information and questions. Typically, the user then asks the fledgling influencer to purchase a product from them. The user is then expected to buy the product but aren’t getting paid to work within the brand. Typically, the brands that are asking users to collaborate have very high followings. The brands typically have over 100,000 followers which further entices the small influencer to collaborate with them. Unbeknownst to the influencers, these brands have very low engagement rates with their high follower count. This indicates that many of the followers are fake accounts or those who are often uninterested in the overall product offering. To ascertain this, a casual perusal of their individual photos can reveal many alarming warning sights related to the scam. First, the photos have very low ratio of “Likes” in relation to the account’s overall follower base. Photos with only a few hundred likes on an account with an overall follower base of 100,000 is a warning sign. Likewise, the comments of the photos are typically generic and are similar in nature. This further indicates very low engagement on the part of the follower base (Benedek, 2014).
These fake brands often have automated responses to new influencers as it relates to collaborations. s are often “canned” in nature an ambiguous as to the desired action or method of collaboration. When messages, these brands also have very canned responses. This indicates that correspondence is often automated and generic causing further concern to the overall nature of the business. Finally, the direct messages used to…
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