Social media and the affordances of digital technologies have made it possible for new possibilities of participation to emerge. People are no longer just consumers or users but also producers as well. Hinton & Hjorth (2013) explains that social media sites support many kinds of offline actives and have real social, economic and cultural consequences. First, exploring fan community crowd funding projects and then looking at citizen journalism and fashion blogging as an example, it will be visible how social media and the internet has driven a new era of participatory culture and communication.
With the internet and the networked society that social media platforms allow, crowd funding activities are a form of participatory act that is common. People are now able to “…participate in activities that were once beyond them,” (Hinton & Hjorth 2013). I would like to use the example of Kickstarter, a social crowd-funding platform to discuss ideas of new forms of participation for people and how fans communities use it. What already is comprehendible is that especially for fan groups “…the internet [has] created a new space for social interaction…” (Hinton & Hjorth 2013) and social media fosters community for them. Fans are now able to partake in huge projects that they, as a single person could not do. For example, fan films and videos are common for shows like Star Trek. However quality fan films and videos can be difficult for many fans, even if wanted to create them. Fans of Star Trek and a small production company named Axanar Productions used Kickstarter to crowdfund a short fan film (view here) Fans of Star Trek were able to participate, donate and become part of the project. As Hinton & Hjorth (2013) explains, there is great value in applications such as crowd sourcing, as people perceive they are helping a community. In the case of Axanar Productions, fans were able to actively be acknowledged and credited for their participation and contribute to the film. Below is the trailer to the crowd funded short fan film. Fans individually alone would not have been able to make this possible but because of social crowd-funded platforms like Kickstarter, it has made it possible. Below is the trailer of the crowd-funded short fan film.
Social media is changing the way people can publish their own opinion and also have their own voice. Platforms such as Twitter allow anyone to converse on any topic and have their perspective heard. Using the Sharri Markson case of the student indoctrination claim that was discussed during the course as an example, what can be seen is how diverse communities of people ranging from key people involved to ordinary citizens were able to be partake in expressing opinion on the issue. Twitter gave an opportunity for people to have a debate and discussion. Before the internet and certainly, social media, traditional print news stories would not have such a viral impact, even for a matter that is making such an implicated allegation. People “…are no longer silly consumers of media: they have become participants, “(Hinton & Hjorth 2013) that are able to communicate their own standpoint freely and easily with social media and not feel restricted to be heard. What is surfacing in society today with social media, is “… the rise of the citizen journalist – a phenomenon that is challenging conventions around press media and journalism…”(Hinton & Hjorth 2013). Especially with the growing rise of portable “…devices like mobile phones that can capture images and video,” (Hinton & Hjorth 2013) people are able to create their own content and report news themselves anywhere and anytime. Furthermore, the hashtagging system on social media additionally adds another dimension for people to able to search and follow certain conversations and debates that they want to participate or want to keep track of.
There are also other forms of journalism that have been influenced, besides the news. This includes fashion journalism, where bloggers have completely transformed the industry. Many fashion bloggers began writing a blog as a hobby and they wrote commentary on fashion trends, reviewed products and clothes they bought and also had DIY photoshoots of their interpretation and their take on style. Fashion blogging has become extremely popular, surpassing the interests of traditional fashion magazines because the fashion bloggers’ “…amateur images taken…hav[e] more of a raw and unpolished feel..giv[ing]..a more intimate and trustworthy affect” (Hinton & Hjorth 2013) for interested readers. A fashion blogger’s “…private musings, opinions [give] authenticity…” (Deuze 2006) unlike paid fashion journalists who may have to write in a certain way that may be influenced not by their interests but as a job.
Fashion bloggers first started becoming popular, because of their unfiltered opinion on fashion, and it attracted many people to read them. It has become so popular that many bloggers are now seen as style icons, social influencers and are even invited to fashion shows, which were once an exclusive to top-notch traditional media. Some even were given seating front row. Also because of the instantaneous opinions that could be written straight away without having to go through processes of approvals and editors like traditional magazines would, many publicity companies saw the value and the immediate press coverage they would receive. As discussed by Wilson (2009) bloggers are able to post images and review fashion collections before the last model exited the runway whilst magazine editors were noting down clothes to feature that would be published in their magazine months later. Below is an example of where bloggers are sitting front row amongst traditional media with their computers. The image is dated and with technology advancements blogging is easily written via devices such as mobile phones or tablets. However, the image is a great visual of the bloggers juxtaposed totraditional media.
In 2015, of course magazines have adopted blogging on to their website as well and given focus on online content as much as they would print, if not more. There is increasingly an “…incorporation of citizen journalists and their views into mainstream… media” (Bruns 2008). Many magazines have even enlisted bloggers to contribute to their website and have created an area of their site that has content created and written by a network of prominent bloggers with allegiance of existing readers, so that their audience would be brought to a magazine’s website, benefit their readership.
Blogging that was once seen as an alternative to mainstream traditional media is also in a way becoming mainstream as well. Many fashion bloggers are getting into the spot light. Due to the abundance of readers and followers of fashion blogs and their social networks, many fashion brands and a vast amount of companies have also started to work and collaborate with bloggers in a variety of marketing and also advertising strategies. These people with social influence are important to brands when marketing fashion brands. When developing my own social media campaign design, I actually incorporated the use of a social influencer for the jewellery brand my social media project. A great example of where a fashion brand worked with a fashion blogger is the Forever 21 collaboration with Rumi Neely who wrote a blog called Fashion Toast. Below is an image of Rumi Neely infront of her billboard campaign. Known for her cool edgy youthful style, who is the target audience of Forever 21, the company collaborated and utilised her for advertising and marketing purposes. Readers that enjoy looking at her style would therefore also enjoy Forever 21 and the brand cleverly incorporated Rumi Neely in the brand to further build their following and customer base. This is just one of many brand and fashion blogger partnerships and there are increasingly more and more, especially with the wide variety of bloggers and brands.
In Australia,a reality television show that documents some affluential fashion bloggers was launched last year. It’s interesting that these bloggers are being recognised in mainstream media and on television. The teaser video below delineates a modern fashion blogger’s day-to-day activities and their content creation and at the same time how brands have collaborated with them.
What do you think of fashion bloggers and how they have transformed traditional fashion journalism?
Bruns, A. (2008). Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage. New York: Peter Lang.
Deuze, M. (2006). Participation, Remediation, Bricolage: Considering Principal Components of a Digital Culture. The Information Society 22(2), pp.63-75.
Hinton, S., & Hjorth, L. (2013). Understanding Social Media. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Wilson, E. (2009) Bloggers Crash Fashion’s Front Row, viewed 28th May 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/27/fashion/27BLOGGERS.html?_r=0