Used or being used? Have social media platforms becoming online marketing tool?

MECO6936 Social Media Communication

NAME: Jing Li

SID: 470066104

TUTOR: Kai Soh/Thursday 12-3pm


Today, social media in its many forms accounts for a great deal of this mediated activity (Hinton, 2013). And there has never been a bigger force for changes than technology, and it changes that absolutely everything about the way we live and the way we get around. Web 2.0, which is the network as a “new platform” spanning all connected devices, and as a platform where users as contributors (Fuchs, 2013). Simultaneously Web 2.0 has contributed to most of the changes towards social media which widely known as social network sites (SNS). Such as blogs and microblogs like Twitter, and video/image sharing platforms like Facebook, Instagram have changed the landscape of social network form.

Nowadays, the power of “network” is becoming more influential and could not be overlooked in online marketing and promotions. Since the world is under the environment of web 2.0 which based on the exploitation of free labor, the imperative of sharing content on social media has become one of the most significant and effective ways of sales strategy (Fuchs, 2013). Simultaneously, celebrities’ posts on social media impacts on the way that consumers think and experience. It is no longer purely a form of “teen socialising” – it has become an integral part of everyday life (Hinton, 2013).

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Figure 1: Number of monthly active Instagram users from January 2013 to December 2016

Are We Being Used?

Celebrity advertising is not an emerging phenomenon any more, but the idea of Internet celebrity that contributes to the sales process is a phenomenon that arose to the new horizon. There are increasingly numbers of Internet celebrities today on many social media platforms, such as PewDie Pie on YouTube, the now famous on Instagram celebrity Alexa Chung and Chiarra Ferragni and so forth. The stimulus of their posts can be numerously influential to the users of certain platform as well as the bloggers generate a huge consequence through the network they built. And according to the Instagram, there are about 600 millions monthly active users and 400 millions daily active users and the percentage of Internet users that use Instagram to account for 20%. And the number of followers of such person is strikingly huge—the followers of Alexa Chung is 2.7 millions, Chiarra Ferragni’s followers are 8.9 millions, what’s more impressive is that the followers of Kim Kardashian is 98.7 millions, which is almost the whole population of Mexico.

According to the statistics of Guided Selling, after Selena Gomez—the most followed Internet celebrity on Instagram—been named of the new face of luxurious brand Louise Vuitton, the post attracted more than one million likes in the first two hours after it was posted. Nevertheless, is the image that attracts such amount of attention or is the controversy or the affair that the brand or the communities used to promote their products? Such communities or groups benefits from what is called “social capital” to locate and express the image to the younger generation of consumers. Among the millions of followers of Selena Gomez, the brand could effortlessly promote the product by merely posting photos or slogans to gather the attraction of the potential customers, and the advantages that such corporations contain is some other small brand cannot reach.

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Figure 2: The photo-shoot campaign of Selena Gomez with the luxurious brand Louise Vuitton

When people see the social media platform as an online community, the idea of an ‘experience economy’, where companies should be able to build brand image and shape ‘an emotional and memorable connection with consumers’ by delivering not only specific products or services but also meaningful and easy to be memorized brand ‘experiences’ (Moor, 2008). Apparently, the method that brand established the model and image through celebrities might seem effective in some ways by examining the “likes” that the posts scored. Indeed, brands are taking every effort to utilize social communities of Internet celebrities as well as young demographics especially could be influenced by this marketing methods without difficulty. What makes the method tricky is that such interference are based on the idea that an entire environment of coordinated brand elements, and on a model of consumer perceptions that emphasizes involvement and experience rather than persuasion or entertainment. (Moor, 2008).


Figure 3: Blogger Chiarra Ferragni’s personal fashion brand and the commercial event for luxurious fashion brand/ And Kendall Jenner’s commercial for fashion accessory brand Daniel Wellington

Is “Petworking” Anther Way of Using? An Insight of Chinese Pet Blogger “Hui Yi Zhuan Yong Xiao Ma Jia”

There are nevertheless another form of “use” that has been existed since the widely acceptation of the idea of Web 2.0 is “Petworking” that utilize the concept in order to make profits. Petworking relates to the vast consume of social media platforms where that the pets have social media account established by their owners (Hutchingson, 2014). The well-known blogger – “Hui Yi Zhuan Yong Xiao Ma Jia” (as Ma Jia) on micro blog is the owner of a white Samoyed dog and a grey Scotland Fold cat. The blogger later became famous accidently by posting interesting and cute everyday photos of the cat and dog with narrative and humorous words as well as the warm and peaceful scene between them. Now, the blogger owns 28 millions followers and retains over 10 thousands reposts, comments and likes for one post in the first few hours. And the blogger himself inevitably became the celebrity that known for his well-knownness.


Figure 4: The image of the famous “Ma Jia”’s pets and the numbers of followers

Based on the mass followers and the strong influence and charisma on fans, Ma Jia followed the pattern that most of the internet celebrities would do—to post advertisement and collaborate with the organizations to make profits and he did it. Now, one advertisement post of Ma Jia’s blog costs 20 thousand rmb (equals approximately 4 thousand dollars) and the minimum advertisement post is three, of which the income could be over 8 millions (equals approximately 1.6 millions dollars). In such a way, the associated transfer in audiences has become a kind of reaction that in networked communication environments, the audiences have no longer consumers of media but more becoming participants (Hinton& Hjorth, 2013). Under the platform that Web 2.0 created, the users could easily become participative and is a two-way of communication that the user generated from the contents and the mass resources. Furthermore, the behaviour of Ma Jia has taken the idea of participation to another level that the user becomes the source of original material as well as a representative symbol of petworking.


Figure 5: The advertisement for the cosmetic brand “Elizabeth Arden”


As seen in the figure 5 shows the commercialization of the pets that the blogger utilizing the high attention of the cat and dog to advertise for some certain brands in order to make profits. The number of repost by now has reached over 40 thousand, the number of comments is now reaching 20 thousand and the number of likes are over 20 thousand respectively. Although the blogger set up a lottery game that the users who repost the blog might have a chance to win the prize, the blogger still generate profit from the repost, which made the brand widely known and simultaneously enlarged the popularity among the industry. While the notion that petworking is not the work of the animals directly but the cultural intermediaries who construct the environment for pets to interact with others (Hutchingson, 2014), thus the reaction is associated with humans. And people or to be specific consumers or audiences couldn’t necessarily tell that who generated most from such interactivities. Since that people in nowadays require such entertainment and the so-called social capital might seem to be an operational way to collect labor in a short period of time.


Sydney Conservatorium of Music Project

In this course, I worked on the project of promoting the concerts in Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Our target audiences are white collars working in CBD and students in USYD and nearby universities in Sydney since our group is focusing on promoting the lunch break concerts. It’s much easier to attract office staff and university students to join the concerts during their lunch break. Our group communication strategy is focused on user-generated content to react with students and white collars.

And to make the campaign more interesting, we primarily attempted to launch an event of “new face of musician” that promote the student musicians to campus idol. But in the process of operating the campaign, we encounter some resistance such as lack of contact details of musicians and so forth. The experience of temptation to putting the idea into practice is still useful in the future study and work.

A second concept of the campaign is utilizing live stream on before concert starts and interview the musicians that participated in the concert via YouTube or Facebook. The audiences could highly participate during the live streaming and be more interested about the concerts.

Through this unit of course and study, it helped me have a deeper knowledge of social media theories and social media platform and SNS and how we can utilize it in the real marketing and communication work and it changed the landscape of my view of social media communication. Nowadays, social media is an inevitable trend and an effective strategy to promotion and spread information. Learning the functions of social media can help us have a better insight of consumer behaviors as well as how to deal with the consumer psychology.





Fuchs, C. (2013). Social media: A critical introduction. Sage.

 Hinton, S., & Hjorth, L. (2013). Understanding social media. Sage.

 Hutchinson, J. (2014). I Can Haz Likes: Cultural Intermediation to Facilitate “Petworking”. M/C Journal, 17(2).

 V Moor, L. (2008). Branding consultants as cultural intermediaries. The Sociological Review, 56(3), 408-428.

 Van Dijck, J. (2013). The culture of connectivity: A critical history of social media. Oxford University Press.

By the numbers: 230+ interesting Instagram statistics (April 2017)http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/important-instagram-stats/

Impact of Celebrity Endorsement on Consumer Buying Behaviorhttp://www.guided-selling.org/impact-of-celebrity-endorsement-on-consumer-buying-behavior/

312 the population of china’s provinces compared: http://bigthink.com/strange-maps/312-the-population-of-chinas-provinces-compared



2 thoughts on “Used or being used? Have social media platforms becoming online marketing tool?

  1. As what I know about the Weibo account “ma jia”, the owner is a normal man live in somewhere China, who owned a dog names NiuNiu and a cat to attract Weibo users following him by making funny stories about his pets at the beginning. After he got so many fans as what you mentioned in your essay, he received lots of commercial advertisements from varies kinds of business. As a result, many Weibo users criticise him a lot recently, that he is using his dog and cat to make profit and even does not take good care of them. For example, the owner have mentioned several times before that sterilisation operation is good for pets’ health, however, he has never take NiuNiu to do it. Month ago, he suddenly posts NiuNiu is pregnant, but all his fans know that she is too old to have her baby, which means pregnant can be a very serious potential danger to her life! Not surprised, NiuNiu went through a spontaneous abortion because of age. Many Weibo users guess that the owner’s purpose is to make money by her baby in case NiuNiu died someday. From the case we can tell, the commercial aspect is a tendency in social media today, it indeed become a marketing tool now.


  2. This topic is very interesting and worth discussion because this is really a new trend in Web 2.0. By using social media platforms, people feel they get closer to the celebrities, and even many normal people become famous due to some strengths or just being funny. Users could find pleasure or something useful when they scan these contents. I also follow the pet-working blogger “Ma Jia” on Weibo as you do. Initially, I thought he was very interesting and caring. He showed how much he loved pets every day. At that time, he had many followers who strongly believe that he is a good guy. As he becomes more and more popular, people find he posts too many advertisements on Weibo, and most of those ads use the tone of his pets. There is a feeling that to some degree, most of pet working bloggers like “Ma Jia” nowadays are making money by using followers’ love for their pets. Evidence also shows some of them fix pets with string to let them pose as models and then wipe off the trace. In addition, the quality of advertisements and the products is also hard to ensure. Therefore, I think although social media provide a dynamic platform for marketing, some regulations are necessary as well.


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