Algorithmic culture: What shapes our information consumption

Algorithmic culture: What shapes our information consumption

MECO6936 Social Media Communication
Assignment 3 – Online Article and Comments
Alice(Xianqin) Wu
Student ID: 470191015
Tutor: Kai Soh, Friday 5:00-8:00 p.m.


Algorithms which may be invisible in online environments(Striphas) is a widely used in various fields.This essay seeks to analyze the algorithmic culture on YouTube, exploring the wide application of algorithm and the potential issues related to the phenomenon.

Case study-YouTube

According to YouTube Internal Data (2017), there are 1.5 visitors each month on YouTube. YouTube Official Blog (2017) also points out that people around the world spend more than one million hours a day watching YouTube videos. Such amazing achievement may owe to several reasons, one must be algorithmic culture — we really enjoy what the media platform provides.

Algorithmic culture refers to a phenomenon that human behavior, organization, thought and expressions on various social media platforms are integrated into the logic of big data and large-scale computation, changing the way people used to practice, experience, and understand category culture (Striphas 2015). Hutchinson (2017) states that a personalized content will be recommended according to the consumer’s past consumption or searching history.

Take YouTube for example, these are two screenshots of YouTube homepage taken by my friends Anna and Tina. Both of them are frequent YouTube users (more than 20 hours a week) but their purposes are quite different. Anna is an ambitious and hard-working girl who wishes to be a brilliant female speaker in the future. Hence Anna spends her spare time watching TED Talks, speeches by famous women around the world, as well as academical presentations which she believes will expand her horizon. On contrary, Tina tends to enjoy life and watch videos online just for entertainment. She prefers to watch variety shows, thrill and funny content that can make her “forget all problems ”. As Tina is a Chinese international student with a boyfriend in China, she is also interested in and searches for long-distance love videos.

It is obvious that they have quite diverse recommended lists (see pic1 &pic2), as their interests and searching habits computed by Youtube are different.

Pic1: Anna’s recommended list

Pic2: Tina’s recommended list

Anna’s recommended list contains Get comfortable with being uncomfortable by Luvvie Ajayi on TED Talks, Story that will change your life-One of the Best on InspireDiscipline, Esther Perel on Sexual Desire and Successful Relationships by Lewis Howes, Stop trying so hard. Archive more by doing less by Bethany on TEDx Talks, and How to be a great leader: Inspiring others to do by Marie Forieo. Whereas Tina’s recommended list covers a popular variety show in China, Fancy Life 2,a short video about a horror situation on airplane, a video about a funny assumption of the relationship between men and women, a talk show discussing the problems dating people from different countries may encounter, and another Chinese variety show, Running men.The built-in algorithmic systems on YouTube can always filter unwanted content and show only what we want. It reduces the process to search other keywords and saves our time to some extent. For example, detecting Anna’s viewing history, the algorithmic systems recommend more relevant videos and channels (see pic3) such as TED channels, speech videos, which Anna is more likely to watch.

Pic3: Anna’s recommended channels and videos

The use of Algorithmic systems

Personalized content automatically selected by algorithms satisfies different users’ needs and saves their time to enter their interested keywords to search for information. For example, only typing a “t”, what I need (translate ) has already come out on the search engine (see Pic4).

Pic4: Search result for “translate” with a “t”
Algorithms can provide precise data on audiences’ preference and consumption habits, hence they are crucially important for marketers and policymakers to carry out marketing campaigns to reach their economic goals. Social media platforms can achieve higher audience rating and traffic and make more profits, as they can locate audiences’ preference and push pertinent attractive contents to keep audiences spending more time on their channels. On the other hand, people are glad to see things they favor so they will spend more time on the internet.

Algorithmic systems are widely used in many fields such as finance, research, education, individual user applications, etc (Argenton, 2017). Apart from recommender systems, the driven elements of algorithmic culture includes “metadata schemes”, “ontologies and taxonomies”, “semantic search tools”, and “machine based reasoning” (Tracy & Carmichael 2017) are playing significant roles in various social media platforms, such as Amazon(Pic5), Instagram(Pic6), Twitter(Pic7), Facebook(Pic8), eBay(Pic9), Taobao(Pic10) and etc. While we are surprised at how the apps are intelligent at knowing our needs, we really enjoy the sweet suggestions they provide.

Pic5: Amazon

Pic6: Instagram

Pic7: Twitter

Pic8: Facebook

Pic9: eBay


When we were preparing the OWEEK campaign on assignment 2, we also use algorithms to help us decide what are the most popular words or phrases among college students, and the sorting sequence also helps us choose the right titles to post on Facebook and Instagram to attract more target audiences’ attention. To be honest, algorithmic systems is a super helpful tool in making marketing plans, as well as advertising campaigns.

Potential issues

However, as information consumers, we cannot be too optimistic about the fact that audiences are becoming addicted to algorithms. Increasing concerns are raised along with the wide use of algorithmic systems. Beer(2017) states that algorithms’ ability to choose and decide with little or without human control is the focus of discussion when talking about the potential social power of algorithms. While Brown and Duguid(2000) emphasize that it is the human that should ultimately decide the meanings and importance of information, Gillespie (2014) points out that our options, thoughts, and opportunities are influenced by algorithms. People are losing autonomy in complicated algorithms(Executive Office of the President 2014 ). With the power of Algorithmic systems, Turkle(2011) argues that people will become more reliant on technology and less on each other.

There are many potential problems coming with algorithms. As the “cognitive-affective stickiness” makes algorithms readily imitable, meanwhile, forbiddingly complex (Mackenzie 2006), Diakopoulos(2015) claims that it is difficult for people to scrutinize and employ the power and influence of algorithms. Introna and Nissenbaum (2000) concern that algorithms may result in bias, while Bozdag (2013) also declares that bias exists in “algorithmic filtering”. For example, as Tina likes entertainment content recommended to her while Anna keeps focusing on famous speeches and pay no attention to search information from other sources. Both of them seem to be an “expert” in their interested areas but they cannot communicate well with each other because their knowledge is limited in their small world, called “filter bubble” (Parise 2011).Some researchers also found that algorithms are associated with discrimination (Kraemer, Overveld, and Peterson 2010; Gillespie 2013; Edelman and Luca 2014). Besides, accountability (Felten 2012; Schuppli 2014) and surveillance issues (Introna and Wood 2002) in algorithms are also concerned by many scholars. Furthermore, Bucher(2012) is worried about the distribution of visibility caused by the automatical sorting systems. Whereas some other researchers pay attention to fairness (Dwork et al. 2011), as well as issues about the reproduction of power structures (Edelman 2014). We should use the algorithm-built-in platforms more carefully to avoid the negative side.

Eli Pariser’s TED talk on the Online Filter Bubble


In the “age of the algorithm” (Kelty 2003), what we see and hear are inevitably influenced by algorithmic systems, which in return feeds our demands for certain information. With the assumption that they “know” us, we trust them, rely on them, and even gradually give up our own natural ability to distinguish what is suitable for us or not. However, algorithmic culture is a two-edged sword. We should be open-eyed when going through content automatically sorted by algorithm systems. Despite the convenience, our thinking styles and behaviors will be changed little by little by the limited recommended lists. People will be stuck in their own traps if they are too dependent on algorithmic systems and losing critical judgment on deciding what kind of information they really need. We are human, it is dangerous if we just keep following algorithms without autonomous control on them.


Argenton, G. (2017). Mind the gaps: Controversies about algorithms, learning and trendy knowledge. E-Learning and Digital Media, 14(3), 183-197. doi:10.1177/2042753017731358

Beer, D. (2017). The social power of algorithms. Information. Communication and Society 20(1): 1–13.

Bozdag Engin. (2013). Bias in Algorithmic Filtering and Personalization. Ethics and Information Technology, 15 (3): 209–27.

Brown, JS. & Duguid, P. (2000b). The Social Life of Information. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Bucher, T. (2012). Want to Be on the Top? Algorithmic Power and the Threat of Invisibility on Facebook. New Media & Society 14 (7): 1164–80.

Diakopoulos, N. (2015). Algorithmic Accountability. Digital Journalism 3 (3): 398–415.

Dwork, C., Hardt, H., Pitassi. T., Reingold, O., Zemel, R. (2011). Fairness through Awareness. ArXiv e-print 1104.3913. Accessed August 20, 2015. Retrieved from http://arxiv.org/abs/1104.3913.

Executive Office of the President. (2014). Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values. Washington, DC: The White House.

Edelman, BG. & Luca, M. (2014). Digital discrimination: The case of Airbnb. com. Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 14-054.

Edelman, BG. (2014). Leveraging market power through tying and bundling: Does Google behave anti-competitively? Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 14-112.

Felten, E. (2012). Accountable Algorithms. Freedom to Tinker, September 12. Accessed August 20, 2015. Retrieved from https://freedom-to-tinker.com/blog/felten/accountable-algorithms/.

Gillespie, T. (2013). The Relevance of Algorithms. In Media Technologies, edited by Gillespie Tarleton, Boczkowski Pablo, Foot Kirsten, 167–94. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Hutchinson, J. (2017). Algorithmic Culture and Cultural Intermediation. In Cultural Intermediaries: Audience Participation in Media Organisations (pp. 201–220). Cham: Springer International Publishing: Springer International Publishing: Imprint: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kelty, C. (2003). Qualitative Research in the Age of the Algorithm: New Challenges in Cultural Anthropology. Lecture presented at the Research Libraries Group 2003 Annual Meeting, Boston Public Library, Boston.

Introna, LD. & Nissenbaum, H. (2000).Shaping the Web: Why the Politics of Search Engines Matters. The Information Society 16 (3): 169–85.

Introna, LD. & Wood, D. (2002). Picturing Algorithmic Surveillance: The Politics of Facial Recognition Systems. Surveillance & Society 2 (2/3): 177–98.

Kraemer, F., Overveld, K., Peterson, M. (2010). Is There an Ethics of Algorithms? Ethics and Information Technology 13 (3): 251–60.

Mackenzie, A. (2006). Cutting Code: Software and Sociality. New York: Peter Lang International Academic.

Parise, E. (2011). Beware online “filter bubbles”. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles

Striphas, T. (2015). Algorithmic culture. European Journal of Cultural Studies 18
(4–5): 395–412

Tracy, F., & Carmichael, P. (2017). Disrupting the dissertation: Linked data, enhanced publication and algorithmic culture. E-Learning and Digital Media, 14(3), 164-182. doi:10.1177/2042753017731356

Turkle, S. (2011). Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York, NY: Basic Books.

YouTube Internal Data. Global. May 2017.

YouTube Official Blog. You know what’s cool? A billion hours. February 2017, Retrieved from


Exploring User-Created Content (UCC)

Full Name: Ying Hua

Tutor Name: Katariina Rahikainen

Class Time: FRI 12pm to 3pm

The use of the Internet is become increasingly integrated into people’s daily life. Drawing support from a wide range of intelligent web services and applications, today’s internet users are able to create, distribute and exploit user-created content (UCC) and gradually become part of the wider participative web. This essay aims to explore the concept by first introducing the theoretical basis of UCC, then describing its role in various contexts as well as some criticisms, and finally linking it back to the course and my own work during this semester.


Concept and Framework

In chapter four of the book Understanding Social Media, the author Hinton and Hjorth (2013) explored how participation is a central concept of social media, and how participative features of social media is influential to different aspects of online activities. They mentioned that “participation can take various forms of agency from user generated content (UGC), in which users forward content made by others, to user created content (UCC), in which the content is made by the user”. Particularly for UCC, it is pointed out that apart from creativity, time, emotion and various forms of capital are also involved in the process of creating.

Furthermore, in Wunsch-Vincent and Vickery (2007)’s work, three key characteristics are put forward to roughly identify a possible spectrum of UCC: (1) It should be “made publicly available over the Internet”; (2) It should reflects “a certain amount of creative effort”; (3) It should be “created outside of professional routines and practices” The classification of UCC types and hosting platforms is then proposed based on the definition. It can be a set of text, photo, images, music, audio, video, film, audio, video, citizen journalism, educational content, mobile content and virtual content while the distribution platforms of UCC can be blogs, wiki, social network sites, and podcasting and so on.

UCC in Practice

In real life, the wide spread of UCC is consider to be powerful disruptive force for traditional content suppliers, which brings both economic opportunities and challenges depending on market participants and their strategies (Wunsch-Vincent and Vickery, 2007). New forms of advertising and marketing are emerging as result. In such new age, instead of struggling to crank out attractive content to satisfy today’s consumers, marketers just have to ensure that they actually seize the most crucial opportunities to engage the customers at the most critical moment of their purchase cycle to create interesting, appealing and positive content on social media such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Weibo and others (Rawat, n.d.). The power of such content will then lead to the increase engagement and consumer trust and ultimately drive sales. The 2015 summer campaign “Share a Coke” seems to be a good example of this. The marketing strategy of the campaign was to trade out the iconic logo on 20-ounce bottles for about 250 of the most common names in this country. Essentially, consumers could have their own name printed on the bottles by chance and were motivated to share those bottles with friends and family. It turned out that a large number of people shared their experiences on Twitter with the hashtag #ShareaCoke, which made it one of the most productive marketing campaigns in Coca-Cola’s history as well as a valuable case for others to study (Traver, 2015).


For those non-profit social media campaigns, the benefits of UCC can be immense as well, as it has the power to inspire and demonstrate impact. Actually, the power of UCC lies in its ability to evoke resonance by getting people involved. Telling someone’s story by the initiator of the campaign does not pack near as much punch as allowing them to do that on their own. These real people and stories, in most cases, humanize their nonprofit and emphasise their impact, which might easily let others feel motivated and ready to join forces. After all, people are more likely to believe in their peers’ words than an organization with an agenda, no matter how good the intentions are (Soucy, 2017). The example of this may be our campaign, #SayNotoStigma, which will be demonstrated in the last part of the article.

Except for that, UCC can also be regarded as a form of personal expression, or rather, free speech. As such, it may be used in citizens’ political and social participation (Wunsch-Vincent and Vickery, 2007), and usually be seen as a reflection of the democratization of content production. Citizen journalism, for instance, makes it possible for users to influence or create news, performing almost the same role as journalists and news agencies. It is actually a great way to bring attention to some issues ignored by the mainstream media and sometimes even “helped shift the informational status by chipping away at the state’s monopoly on information” (Radsch, 2016).

“The shooting of Michael Brown”, which took place in Ferguson last summer, showed how powerful and influential citizen journalism could be. On that occasion it was a Twitter user, @TheePharoah, who reported what he was witnessing from his house. What really happened, according to his oberservation, was that a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager with his gun in the street who had stolen some cigarettes from a store. A series of photos of the scene with the dead body and the text giving more detailed information caused anger on social media platforms, and then led to the protests on the streets which lasted for several weeks. In this case, it simply required a smartphone to direct the international attention to “the injustice committed by the American law enforcement” (Montañà, 2015).


Critical Analysis

Although the term UCC is praised for many reasons, there are also some criticisms in the academic circles. For anyone who creates a great deal of content online, the issue comes up immediately. Who are the people and how reliable and accurate is their content? If they are not trustworthy, do they intend to disseminate the wrong or dangerous information? That is to say, the vast array of UCC can at times be misleading for consumers on the web. What is worse, according to Hinton and Hjorth (2013), UCC may replace the content created by professional who is well trained and full of experience.

Moreover, there are also some possible negative consequences surrounding UCC with regard to the laws and ethics.  One potential negative consequence may be the increasing occurrences of violations of privacy or identity theft caused by the vast quantitiesof personal information available online, which can be the users’ information or that of others who are exposed by the users (Wunsch-Vincent and Vickery, 2007). Thus, People engaging in UCC require an awareness of such legal and ethical issues that are possible to ensue. And the regulations must be improved to ensure the security.

Reflection on our work

The concept of how UCC engage the audience was applied in the social media campaign we made for Sane Australia. In the second phase of the campaign, we provided the spaces for people to voice themselves and be seen. Emotional texts, emotional pictures, emotional descriptions are encouraged to be post on social media platforms using the hashtags: #WomansHealth #SuicidePrevention #ruok? #WorldMentalHealth #AnxietyandDepression. For instance, in conjunction with Women’s Health Week, which is a week to appeal all women across Australia to prioritise their health issues, we introduced the topic #WomansHealth on Instagram and open up the online forum on Facebook to facilitate interaction. We promoted some basic knowledge with regard to CMI and raised questions like “Have you ever had these experiences?” to start discussion. Then those females who have suffered from these or whose family members and friends have been beset by such problems were willing to talk, and it was definitely a very important step towards success. As for how the campaign might be improved base on the theory, I think it would be better if we could find the way to overcome the shortcomings of UCC.

Word Count: 1314


Hinton, S. & Hjorth, L. (2013). Participation and user created content. In Understanding social media (pp. 55-76). London: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781446270189.n4

Montañà, P. (2015 March 16). Citizen journalism to improve democracy: between myth and reality. Retrieved from https://montanyatorpaula.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/citizen-journalism-to-improve-democracy-between-myth-and-reality/

Rawat, J. (n.d.).How to Engage Your Customers in Creating User-Generated Content. Retrieved from http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/engage-customers-in-creating-user-generated-content/

Soucy, C. (2017 September 20).Benefits of User-Generated Content and How to Use It on Your Nonprofit Website. Retrieved from https://wiredimpact.com/blog/benefits-of-user-generated-content/

Tarver, E. (2015 October 7). What Makes the ‘Share a Coke’ Campaign So Successful? (KO). Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/articles/markets/100715/what-makes-share-coke-campaign-so-successful.asp

Wunsch-Vincent, S., & Vickery, G. (2007). Participative Web and User-Created Content Web 2.0, Wikis and Social Networking. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

White, C. (2014 April 7). Be Wary of Awesome and Scathing Online Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/be-wary-awesome-scathing-online-reviews-n72116


Corporation and interaction of Traditional and New media


Assessment 3 – Online Article

Jingjing Li

SID: 470518234

Instructor: Fiona Andreallo

Thursday 12-3PM



With the development of the Internet, social network and mobile media have permeated and changed every individual’s life in the current era. There are billions of users getting on the Internet for different requirements every day all over the world, and it is no doubt that the Internet is embedded in the everyday.

As opposed to traditional media and communication such as television, radio, newspaper, and magazines, new media are forms that are native to computers, computational and relying on computers for distribution. And nowadays, with the increasingly advance of the Internet, the market and development of traditional media are taking a considerable impact under mounting pressure, and these issues are inevitable for some extents. To keep the inherent market and audiences, traditional media made a great effort to innovate and attract different groups. It is pleasure to find that there are more and more traditional mediums relying on new media as a platform to integrate and enhance its own function.

In this case, the Internet and digital communication are not competitors anymore. In terms of this good relationship of cooperation, traditional medium encourages audiences’ engagement on digital platforms. And it offers benefits for both sides and also achieves common progress in the meantime.

Core Concepts

Web 1.0 and Web 2.0

The term “web” has experienced an enormous change during these years. In the early stage, the web was used to provide an interface that allowed people to discover and access information from the Internet quickly and easily (Sam & Larissa, 2013). According to Graham and Balachander, “content creators were few in Web 1.0 with the vast majority of users simply acting as consumers of content”. And the principal function of the Internet was to provide content toward users. During this time, the internet and traditional medium were functional independencies, and there was no competitive relationship between them.

However, after the term “Web 2.0” created in 1999 by Darcy DiNucci in her article, people began to realize that there were some variations in the network. Darcy points that, “ The Web we know now, which loads into a browser window in essentially static screenfuls, is only an embryo of the Web to come. The first glimmerings of Web 2.0 are beginning to appear, and we are just starting to see how that embryo might develop. The Web will be understood not as screenfuls of text and graphics but as a transport mechanism, the ether through which interactivity happens (Darcy, 1999).” And at the same time, the Web, as a platform, has provided new ways to conceive of the internet in terms of economic value.


In the web 2.0, the function of consumers and users has changed dramatically in comparison with the past. The concept “produsage” coined by Australian media scholar Axel Bruns, which is the combination of the word “produce” and “usage”, is used to interpret the current condition of users in the network. The concept blurs the boundaries between passive consumption and active production. In terms of his explanation, audiences are no longer passive but active users, which challenges traditional media gatekeepers (Bruns, 2008). A key characteristic of produsage is a collaboration between producers to create content rather than working as individuals.

Case Study

In the past time, audiences could only watch TV dramas and different shows on the television. However, people are able to watch and comment these videos on the social media easily right now. They even could see the live on some social network platform, which was hard to imagine it in the past. Reality Show is really popular among crowds in all age groups.


This case is about a famous US television TV show called Big Brother. Big Brother is a reality television show based on an originally Dutch TV series of the same name created in 1997 (John, 2000). And American broadcast CBS began to produce own American version and transmit the first season in 2000. The series started with a successful start and has since continued to be a hit for CBS, and the 20th season will air in the summer of this year, which is the second longest-running adaptation of the series to date (Wikipedia, 2018). The show is about a group of contestants, know as HouseGuest, who are living together in a home under constant surveillance. There are hundreds of cameras and microphones around the room. Every moves and action will be recorded and played on the website as live stream simultaneously. And after editing, the key segments and dramatic parts will be played on the television.

屏幕快照 2018-04-27 上午9.47.34.png

In the first season, the platform of the whole programme was broadcasted on the television and it was the only medium of transmission. However, with the advent and development of the network and social media, the mode of this programme changed a lot during these years.

屏幕快照 2018-04-27 上午11.05.22.png

屏幕快照 2018-04-27 下午12.00.05.pngThe first time that “CBS.com” appeared on this show was in the 5th season, and audiences could subscribe the live 24 hours internet feed on this website of CBS channel. In the first few years, viewers should use the application to view the feeds, while right now only a browser capable of supporting Adobe Flash video playback no matter on Windows and Macs could use to watch the feeds. The internet as a medium offers the viewers a different channel to watch more things beyond the content shown on the television. In this situation, the hidden part will promote viewers to purchase an intangible product online and it will create more commercial value for the show.

屏幕快照 2018-04-27 下午12.37.09.png

And in the season 8, there is a new twist called America’s Player, which was asked the contestant to complete a task that America specified by voting on CBS.com or by texting message, and viewers were able to vote on tasks. In other words, viewers did not only watch the show but also take an essential part in this programme. Until now, there are more segments in the show that encourage engagement of viewers and provides more opportunities for them to participate in the game.

屏幕快照 2018-04-27 上午10.57.00.png

WechatIMG93.jpegSince the fifteenth season, the hashtag of #BB15 and #BIGBROTHER was shown on the screen in Big Brother. It can be interpreted that the programme and television station began to notice the importance of the social network gradually. People could comment and present their own opinions about the show on Twitter with hashtag. Twitter, as a social network platform, played an important role for audiences to communicate with other each other and debate about the same topic. The platform does not only benefit audiences but also helps broadcast channel and production team to get advice from the crowd efficiently. There are official accounts of Big Brother on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and it provides different ways for audiences to share their advice and give feedback about the show.


This case is a positive example to present how traditional media could survive and achieve a long-lasting success for 20 years in the digital era. Even though the programme had already owned a constant group of audiences in the early stage, it still kept innovating and changing all the time. It is undeniable that traditional media is strongly impacted by new media nowadays. However, traditional media sill would not vanish in the near future. Therefore, the innovation of mass media is really urgent at the moment. Almost every channel has own official accounts on the social network, as well as newspaper and magazines. With the help of the internet and social media, these mediums tend to get a close relationship with audiences and also brings a common phenomenon suitable to the current of times.


Axel, B (2008). Blogs, Wikipedia, Second life, and beyond: from production to produsage (Vol. 45). New York: Peter Lang.

Big Brother (U.S. TV series). Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Brother_(U.S._TV_series)#cite_note-BB1Article-2

Cormode,G. & Krishnamurthy,B. (2008). Key differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. First Monday. Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2125/1972

DiNucci, D. (1999). Fragmented Future. Retrieved from http://darcyd.com/fragmented_future.pdf

Hinton, S. & Hjorth, L. (2013). What is Web 2.0. Understanding social media. (pp7-31).Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE.

John, C. (2000).  “‘Big Brother’ Watches Their Every Movement”. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved from http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/07/05/DD100409.DTL



How cultural intermediation applied in the campaign of Worldwide Breast Cancer #KnowYourLemons

Xuehong Jiang (SID: 460269638)
Instructor: Kai Soh, Thursday 6-9PM


According to Grünewald (2014), in the past, intermediaries can be considered as the agents offer services between two parties. For instance, the communication between artists and fans is indirect. To some degree, artists could not interact with fans effectively and unrestrictedly. In other words, there are record company, distributor and retailer as intermediaries between them. All of them above make huge contributions to boost the interaction between artists and funs. However, intermediation changed a lot because of the influence of internet and social media. In particular, there is dis-intermediation (Grünewald ,2014) which means that artists can in a way interact with their fans directly through digital networked media, such as Facebook ,YouTube and Weibo. Therefore, traditional media agents have to adapt this new circumstance to survive in the social media environment.  Furthermore, the research on how traditional media industry can face and overcome the challenge by social media has become the main task of some scholars’ lives. As a result, a given theory named ‘cultural intermediation’ is familiar to people, especially to some institutions, agents, corporations and organizations. This essay will analyze how cultural intermediation applied in the campaign of Worldwide Breast Cancer #KnowYourLemons. Firstly, ‘cultural intermediation’ will be discussed in its theoretical perspective. Then, a conclusion will be offered,  followed by the practice of ‘cultural intermediation’ —a case study of Worldwide Breast Cancer

Cultural Intermediation Theory

In a broadest sense, Piper (2013, p.348)) thinks that cultural intermediation depicts the process of moving ‘cultural’ information around. In this process, cultural intermediaries are the movers of passing this information. However, there is a more specific definition of cultural intermediation. Hutchinson (2017) states that Cultural intermediation is the process that describes how cultural intermediaries function social media with, or at least alongside, media institutions. Hence, in social media era, the difference between traditional mediation and cultural mediation would be the usage of social media. It is reported that social media are web-based communication tools that enables people to interact with each other by both sharing and consuming information (Nations, 2018). Particularly, the normal and popular web-based communication tools are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and so on.

In addition, on the study of cultural intermediation, Hutchinson (2017) concerns the relationship between social media users and multichannel networks (MCNs). According to Grünewald (2014), MCN can be simply defined as companies with economic interests who will attract advertisers and gain benefits from advertising. They can also empower and connect social media producers by collecting and administrating social media channels. For example, YouTube has a variety of MCNs as partners, such as Maker Studios Inc, Warner Music, The Orchard, etc. The function of these MCNs is linking a wide range of artists and fans. Furthermore, MCNs are proficient in solving legal problems, such as malicious slanders and vulgar comments. Channel& Profile building for artists is also a task for MCNs.

Also, Hutchinson (2017) agrees that cultural intermediation is a combination of expertise and taste-making. There are two processes, user-to-user translation and user-to-institution translation, where cultural intermediaries can function. The process of user-to-user translation seems simple for cultural intermediaries since they are adapt in communicating with the stakeholder groups with a same language, while it is rather complicated for cultural intermediaries to coordinate the communication between users and institution that might not have same languages.

What is more, Hutchinson (2017) pointes out that the cultural intermediary role consists of social media producers, community managers, change agents and micro-influencers. In particular, social media producers suggest that active audiences are common in digital era to some extent.  And micro-influencers are quite similar to social media producers since both of them are excellent active audiences when they deliver information to the publics as cultural intermediaries. However, there is still difference between them which social media producers tend to use social media channels, such as YouTube. And social media producers are not necessarily famous people with thousands of followers. In terms of community managers and change agents, the significant feature of community managers is the maintenance of online communities’ relationship, while the change agents are people involved in specific and professional areas. As for the campaign of Worldwide Breast Cancer #KnowYourLemons, the cultural intermediaries can be more like change agents.

Speaking of the responsibility of intermediary, platform governance should be taken into account. According to Carpentier (2009), since the online environment is changeable and universal, cultural intermediary does not only offer safe and productive online environment to social media users but also provides incredible expertise and useful instruction to social media users on platform governance. In specific, given several well-known characteristics of social media: informative, interactive and audience-broad, the online environment would be polluted by various unhealthy and slanderous messages easily. As cultural intermediaries, it is their responsibility to turn these unnecessary messages into productive results.

 Cultural intermediation theory for #KnowYourLemons Campaign

As Adespresso reported (Adespresso, 2017), #KnowYourLemons Campaign is in the ranking of the 10 best Facebook ad campaigns in 2017.

The #KnowYourLemons campaign has been launched by Worldwide Breast Cancer, a global charity since 2003. According to Roxyby (2017), a young designer named Corrine Beaumont created the ‘Know Your Lemon’ campaign since her grandmother died from breast cancer and she realized herself had little information about breast cancer.


(The official website of Worldwide Breast Cancer)

The aim of #KnowYourLemons campaign is to educate women to notice the signs of breast cancer and save their lives. Obviously, the targeted audiences of #KnowYourLemons campaign are women aged between 30 years and 70 years old since most women are diagnosed breast cancer in these ages (Do you know your risk for breast cancer, 2017).

And finally, despite that #KnowYourLemons campaign didn’t last long, it has achieved success. In specific, on its primary social media platform—Facebook, 7.3 million people have been reached in one month and over 200 million people were educated last year (Adespresso,2017). Besides, on YouTube, Corrine rolled out a #knowyourlemons challenge which has caused a great sensation.


(#knowyourlemons challenge)


(#knowyourlemons challenge in 60 seconds)


(Know your lemons? Donate and share to save lives)


In terms of the reasons why #KnowYourLemons campaign can be successful, this campaign employs the cultural intermediation theory well. First of all, the main MCG involved in this campaign is Facebook which can be the most prevalent social media in the world. During the process of cultural intermediation, Worldwide Breast Cancer, as a role of cultural intermediaries—change agent, attempted to decrease the women’s fear about breast cancer and increase their awareness of breast cancer. In order to diminish the sensitive degree of breast cancer for women, apart from the memorable hashtag, Worldwide Breast Cancer created the imagery of lemons with 12 different symptoms of breast cancer to educate women. It is humorous and visual that can help women overcome a fear of checking (Adespresso, 2017).


(The facebook of #KonwYourLemons campaign)

In addition, we can see social media producers as another cultural intermediary functional in this campaign.Erin Smith Chieze, who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer after recognising she had an indentation in her breast, shared #KnowYourLemons Campaign on Facebook. And this post gained 26,000 thumbs up and almost 2,000 comments. Also, there were roughly 5,000 people forwarded this post. In the user-to-institution translation, the process will be difficult since the literacy of social media users might different from institutions. However, the social media producer (Erin Smith Chieze) comparable with social media users in literacy and standpoint is more reliable and attainable than institutions. As a result, the engagement of social media users is increased by the cultural intermediary. Facebook users are willing to show more sympathy and empathy to Erin Smith Chieze by giving thumbs -up or forwarding post.


(The facebook of Erin Smith Chieze)

In fact, this campaign is also a combination of expertise and taste-making. Some complicated knowledge on breast cancer has been transformed through vivid pictures and interesting quizzes to suit users’ tastes. Women would rather learn knowledge from these pictures and quizzes than read piles of medical jargons.

Besides the capture of attention, Worldwide Breast Cancer also translates their cultural capital into economic value in #KnowYourLemons Campaign. On the right top of their official website page, there are two buttons: Donate and Shop. People interested in this campaign can not only donate money but also buy some exclusive products, such as posters, leaflets, window decals and mugs. Actually, these products are branded by #KnowYourLemons Campaign. Therefore, when people buy the products from the website, they know and accept the culture by #KnowYourLemons Campaign.


Adespresso, (2017). The 10 Best Facebook Ad Campaigns That Killed It In 2017. Retrieved from https://adespresso.com/blog/best-facebook-ad-campaigns/.


Grünewald, L. (2014, June 16). Media-Intermediation & Careers on YouTube: How Musicians get Empowered in Post-Industrial Media-Economies. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/LorenzGrnewald/mediaintermediation-careers-on-youtube-how-musicians-get-empowered-in-postindustrial-mediaeconomies.


Hutchinson, J. (2017). Institutional Cultural Intermediation Cultural Intermediaries: Audience participation and media organizations, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 33-62.


Nations, D 2018, What is Social Media. Available at: https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-social-media-explaining-the-big-trend-3486616.


Piper, N. (2013). Audiencing Jamie Oliver: Embarrassment, Voyeurism and Reflexive

Positioning. Geoforum, 45, 348.


Roxyby, P. (2017). Signs of breast cancer explained, using lemons. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38609625.


Southerton, D. (2011). Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture, Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, pp. 389-391.


Worldwidebreastcancer, (2017). Do you know your risk for breast cancer. Retrieved from https://www.worldwidebreastcancer.org/.





Citizen Journalism: how has this impacted journalism and does it do more harm than good?


Rapid developments in technology have meant that journalism practices have had to adapt to the changing nature in how the public reads news. It is now common practice for the majority of the public to receive news through social media, a vast shift from the traditional means of newspapers and television broadcasts. With this changing landscape also came the concept of ‘citizen journalism’. In its simplest terms citizen journalism can be defined as ‘the reporting of news events by members of the public using the Internet to spread the information’ (Technopedia.com, 2018). It is also important to note the interlinking relationship between citizen journalism and social media as ‘It is easily spread through…social media’ (Technopedia.com, 2018), which will become more significant further on in this essay. However, as a relatively new concept there is still considerable debate as to whether this practice is beneficial or harmful to our society and journalism practices. This essay will seek to argue that although it has some negatives aspects, it is a valuable contribution to the field of journalism and our society.

 (Citizen Journalist cartoon, DGIwire, n.d). 

       The impact on journalism

Firstly, it is important to note that journalists have had to adapt to an increasingly digitalized world and utilize new technologies in order to be relevant to their audience ‘What began as digital media revolution two decades ago has morphed into a social media landscape…Journalists have been required to adopt new tools, such as smartphones, in order to participate in a developing form that places value on interactivity and is “transparent” and “collaborative” (Lipschultz, 2018, p.88). The relationship between journalists and the public has also been altered significantly. It is now a much more interactive relationship with the increasing use of User-generated content by journalists in their reporting ‘Journalism shifted from being largely one-way mass communication to participatory work that includes some User-generated content (UGC)’ (Lipschultz, 2018, p.91). This shift from passive audiences to active audiences also means that how we interact with information and news is also significantly altered, ‘“the shift from a top-down media system to one that features more horizontal interaction of people and news represents a change in the relationship that citizens and others in a nation have with information” (Lipschultz, 2018, p.89-90). Furthermore, because members of the public are created some of the content on news sites, citizen journalism is then part of the concept of ‘produsage’. This is defined as ‘the collaborative and continuous building and extending of existing content in pursuit of further improvement’’ (Bruns & Schmidt, 2011, p.4).

Benefits of citizen journalism

If we now analysis the benefits of citizen journalism, we find that one of the key benefits is that the public can now access information about breaking news stories at a much quicker speed than before, ‘During a breaking news event, users may provide information not yet available to professional journalists’ (Lipschultz, 2018, p.91). Furthermore, the public can now see real life footage of these events as they unfold ‘In an era in which most people carry smartphones with high-quality cameras with them almost everywhere, photographs appear almost instantaneously on Twitter from the sites of most breaking news events’ (Lipschultz, 2018, p.91). Therefore, journalists can use citizen journalists content to unearth the crux of news stories as they unfold ‘Crowdsourcing may unearth facts during a breaking news story’ (Lipschultz, 2018, p.93).

(Citizen journalist, Ingram, 2012).

Another important benefit of citizen journalism is that arguably news reporting is much more democratic because the public can now challenge the monopoly of mainstream media news reporting ‘citizen journalists act as another check and balance to the mainstream press’ (Revis, 2011). This creates a more democratic news system which incorporates more voices of society that may have previously gone unheard ‘“When minorities and women and people who have known poverty and misfortune first-hand are authors of news, as well as its readers, the social world represented in the news expands and changes”’ (Revis, 2011). Furthermore, citizen journalism has also played a significant role in in helping to democratize society. An infamous example of this being the Arab Spring which was a series of revolutions that occurred in 2010-2012 across the Middle East which led to increased levels of democracy in many countries within this region. The reason many attribute citizen journalism as a key factor to this revolution was because ordinary citizens used social media, especially twitter, to voice discontent about the authoritarian regimes in place within this region ‘With the Arab Spring… we’ve already seen the ability of digital media to democratize. Twitter and mobile technology have allowed citizen journalists to more effectively broadcast the consequences of a repressive Iranian regime – even when major news outlets were blocked’ (Revis, 2011). This now means that ‘governments can no longer totally suppress dissent within or across physical borders and that activists can now bypass the mainstream media’ (Hirst, 2012, p.6).

arab spring
(Arab Spring Protest,  https://www.ethicalexpress.com/arab-spring, 2017).

Negatives of citizen journalism

However, it is also important to understand that citizen journalism does not come without some short comings. The integration of social media and journalism has now led to a dramatic increase in the public receiving the majority of their news information through these platforms, instead of traditional news platforms ‘the average global Internet user receives 26 news stories per week via social media or email and shares 13 news stories online’ (Jenkins, Ford & Green, 2013, p.12). Specifically, if we look at America the statistics are almost incredulous ‘As of August 2017, two-thirds (67%) of Americans report that they get at least some of their news on social media’ (Shearer & Gottried, 2017).


(Statistic on news use on social media, Shearer & Gottfried, 2017).

This has created the serious problem of the rise of fake news circulating the internet and our consciousness, as it is now much harder to regulate what news stories circulate around the internet, ‘the ease with which citizens can upload content online makes it infinitely impossible to verify sources and information’ (Davidson, 2017). This has in turn ‘given rise to an onslaught of fake news’ (Davidson, 2017). An infamous example of fake news circulating the internet is Donald Trump’s use of twitter, as there has been ‘numerous instances of nefarious or dubious information gracing his social media account – only to later become fodder for mainstream news articles’ (Davidson, 2017).


To conclude it is clear that technological developments within the 21st century has significantly altered the field of journalism. Audiences have now become much more interactive, and produsage has become a significant part of journalism, giving rise to an increase in User-Generated-Content within the field of media. This has created a new type of journalist, the citizen journalist, who reports news through the means of the internet and of course social media. The interlinking relation between social media and journalism is important, as the rise of social media usage within our society means that social media platforms have become the key means of the majority of the public receiving their news information. This has led to a serious problem within the field of citizen journalism, as it is now extremely easy for fake news to circulate our society. However, I believe citizen journalism contains much more significant benefits than negatives. Firstly, one of the key benefits to citizen journalism is the speed at which we can now access information about news stories which is now almost instantaneous. News has also become much more democratic, as the monopoly of traditional news outlets has lessened extensively, with citizen journalism acting as a means of checking and balancing mainstream media corporations. Furthermore, minority groups voices can now be broadcast more strongly through citizen journalism. Finally, citizen journalism in some instances helped further democratize society, as in the case of the Arab Spring.


Bruns, A., & Schmidt, J. (2011). Produsage: A closer look at continuing developments. New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, 17(1), 3-7. 10.1080/13614568.2011.563626

Davidson, C. (2017). The challenge of citizen journalism – IFEX. [online] IFEX. Available at: https://www.ifex.org/international/2017/12/04/citizen-journalism/ [Accessed 25 Apr. 2018].

 DGIwire (n.d.). Citizen journalist cartoon. [image] Available at: https://www.dgiwire.com/what-citizen-journalism-means-for-your-company/ [Accessed 26 Apr. 2018]. 

Hirst, Martin. “One tweet does not a revolution make: Technological determinism, media and social change.” Global Media Journal-Australian Edition6.2 (2012): 1-11. 

https://www.ethicalexpress.com/arab-spring/ (2017). Arab Spring Protest. [image] Available at: https://www.ethicalexpress.com/arab-spring/ [Accessed 26 Apr. 2018].

Ingram, M. (2012). Example of a citizen journalist. [image] Available at: https://gigaom.com/2012/03/28/syria-citizen-journalism-and-the-capital-t-truth/ [Accessed 26 Apr. 2018].

Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J. (2013). Spreadable media : creating value and meaning in a networked culture. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy1.library.usyd.edu.au

Lipschultz, J. H. (2018a). Social Media in Journalism. In Social media communication concepts, practices, data, law and ethics (2nd ed., pp. 82-109). New York, New York; London, [England]: Routledge.

Revis, L. (2011). How Citizen Journalism Is Reshaping Media and Democracy. [online] Mashable. Available at: https://mashable.com/2011/11/10/citizen-journalism-democracy/#sLv.BygcJmqJ [Accessed 25 Apr. 2018].

Shearer, E. and Gottfried, J. (2017). News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017. [online] Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. Available at: http://www.journalism.org/2017/09/07/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2017/

Shearer, E. and Gottfried, J. (2017). Statistic on news use on social media. [image] Available at: http://www.journalism.org/2017/09/07/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2017/ [Accessed 26 Apr. 2018].

[Accessed 25 Apr. 2018].

Techopedia.com. (2018). What is Citizen Journalism? – Definition from Techopedia. [online] Available at: https://www.techopedia.com/definition/2386/citizen-journalism [Accessed 24 Apr. 2018].


Assessment 3 · Uncategorized

Nano-influencers are more powerful than you think

Assignment 3 Online Article

Eric (Qihan) Fan

Tutor: Kai Soh

Thursday 6-9pm

Social media influence can be described as the ability of an individual to affect, guide or shape the thinking or decisions of others through a pre-established relationship, that has been crafted through their chosen social media platform, namely Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. The weight of social media influence and its impact on society, if not the economy is made obvious with Donald Trump’s tweets having a great and unpredictable effect on the stock market and world’s political landscape (Bloomberg. 2018, April).

Example below shows how Donald Trump’s tweet affected Lockheed Martin’s share price.

Trump tweet

Image source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/16/business/dealbook/trump-tweets-stock-market-trading-bots.html

Public figures such as Donald Trump, Justin Bieber or Kim Kardashian are seen as elevated amongst other social media users due to their thousands to millions of ‘followers’. ‘Followers’ in a marketing sense can be seen as an influencer’s clearly established target demographic. This relationship pertains a certain power dynamic as followers have ‘subscribed’, which can be seen as a request for regular updates due to alignment or interest in the social influencers’ values or products. Social media influencers can then be seen as a bridge or cultural intermediaries between their ideology or recommendation and their ‘followers’.

Hence, the public often associate the term social media influencer with those celebrities that have millions of ‘followers’ like Donald Trump or Kim Kardashian, but is this the right stereotype?

Surrounding these big influencers are casual social media users, those with the seemingly inconsequential number of followers. However, through social media, these overlooked few known as Nano-influencers, are also see to have significant influence and power in the world of marketing. This article aims to discuss the rise of these individual influencers that have very little audiences or subscribers and how they are actually more impactful than those big social influencers with millions of followers.

The Fall of celebrity endorsements

Speaking of social media influencer marketing, we have to trace it back to its underlying form – Celebrity endorsements.  Celebrity endorsements is a form of advertising strategy that has been used since 1760 (Vemuri, K & Madhav, T.P, 2004). This strategy involves celebrities or a person with a respectful amount of social capitals to use their social status or influence to help promote a product or service. This strategy has evolved since we entered the digital era, where the social media platforms have enabled and created thousands of online celebrities and social influencers that have millions of followers across the globe. It is still a very popular form of marketing in today’s world, Wagner and Molla stated in their article that advertisers spent more than $570 million on Instagram influencers alone in 2016 (Wagner & Molla 2017).

However, despite the fact that digital celebrity endorsements is a growing market, there are many statistics suggested that celebrity endorsements and its impact is on the decline. A research conducted by Roth Capital Partners (eMarketer 2018) found that the vast majority of respondents, 78% either had a negative connotation of celebrity endorsements or were indifferent to practice with regard to making a purchase. On the other hand, Collective Bias has surveyed (Collective Bias 2016) nearly 14,000 adults in 2016 and found that 30 percent of consumers are more likely to be persuaded by a non-celebrity blogger than a celebrity. Of that 30 percent, almost 70 percent of the feedback suggested that they have a higher preference for “peer endorsement”.


Bill Sussman, CEO of Collective Bias concluded that: “The findings of this report strongly indicate that consumers are less engaged with advertisements and seemingly disingenuous celebrity endorsements.” Collective Bias 2016)

The rise of “Peer Endorsement” and Nano-influencers

According to Nielsen (cited in Whitler 2017), 92% of consumers believe recommendations from individuals like their friend and family over all forms of advertising, in the same study, 84% of consumers also stated that they trust recommendations from people they know, making peer recommendations the highest-ranked information source for trustworthiness. Furthermore, consumers highly value recommendations even if they don’t personally know the reviewer, with 88% indicating they find online reviews as trustworthy as personal recommendations (Anderson 2014).

These are just a few of the many shreds of evidence showing people are leaning towards the recommendations from their peers or ordinary individuals on social media over those high profile social influencers. However, Nano-influencers like us don’t have a big following on social media platforms, so why are they attracting more attention from the audiences? Fabrizio Perrone, CEO of Buzzoole explained that “It is the power of relevance and word of mouth that has allowed peer-to-peer influencers to create a successful model on digital media channels” (cited in GlobalSportsJobs 2017).

The two-way symmetrical communication model described in James Grunig’s Excellence Theory has further supported this argument on what makes Nano-influencers more powerful and effective in social media communication. The symmetrical communication model proposed that “individuals, organisations and public should use communication to adjust their ideas and behavior to those of others rather than try to control how others think and behave.” (Grunig, 2006). Grunig has repeatedly argued that the essential factor that leads to a successful communication or engagement is through two-way interactions and authenticity. This communication style is very unlikely to be carried out by big digital influencers that have millions of followers, their contents and approach are most-likely to be one-dimensional and informative due to their limited time and space for two-way interactions. But as Nano-influencers have smaller audiences, they are able to spend more time on explaining their ideas or recommendations with their followers, hence makes it more interactive and engaging. The Encoding / Decoding Theory of communication (Hall, 1980) also suggests audiences that actively read media texts don’t just accept them passively. A good communicator needs to construct the communication information in a way that the receiver would easily understands, the adjustment can only be done if the communicator gets feedback from the receiver.

communication 2 way

What is a good communication? How to encode and decode and communication.

Image source: http://bconsi.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/what-is-two-way-communication-in-business.html

Why are they powerful?

As individuals without millions of followers, how can Nano-influencers broadcast their messages and influence millions of strangers?

First, there is a theory set out by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929 called The six degrees of separation, where he stated that any person on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries (Rouse, M. n.d). Many might question this statement in 1929, but it is quite possible to establish communication and provide ‘peer endorsement’ to million others around the world today. Social media platforms have removed the barrier of location, they have granted us convenient access to our friends that live overseas, and those friends can easily do the same and reach out to more people.  Grunig has once stated in a Q&A that “digital communication makes symmetrical communication fairly easy to practice and, in fact, might make it unavoidable” (Q&A James Grunig 2013).

Have you ever connected with a stranger that shares the same friend as you on Facebook, and now you are also friends?

6 deg separation

Six degrees of separation – between you and the world

Diagram source: https://www.supplynow.co.uk/news/six-degrees-of-separation-try-two

Thanks to social media platforms, these nano-influencers are able to reach out to more people through these platforms such as Facebook or Twitter to make an impact. Here are the main reasons why nano-influencers can be described as the future of social media communication.

  • Nano-influencers serve niche markets (mainly their friends), hence they have time to provide interactive two-way communication with their audiences. This is the first essential element that makes their messaging more persuasive and effective. They can now use digital channels to reach out to a wider audience as well.
  • People prefer to trust the opinion of a real person or someone we know more than we trust a celebrity or a public figure. This is called the ‘Principle of liking’ (Cialdni 1984). Nano-influencers can leverage their influences from the trust they have already established with their audiences.
  • Due to Echo Chamber algorithm effect, people have been surrounded by like-minded individuals or opinions on their social media platforms. Hence the sense of relevance and belonging already makes Nano-influencer’s recommendation more trustworthy in comparison to the recommendation from a distanced celebrity.
  • According to a Digiday survey, nano-influencers are able to engage up to 9 percent of the audience they serve whereas the celebrities who have millions of followers only have engagement percentage at 1.7 percent (Todorov 2018).

Will this always work?

Nano-influencers and peer endorsement are already on the rise, but it doesn’t mean these methods work all the time. In a recent study, 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth and peer-endorsements are the most effective forms of marketing. However, only 6% say they have mastered it (Whitler 2017). So what makes it difficult to become a powerful nano-influencer?

  • The Stickiness Factor – Malcolm Gladwell defines “the Stickiness Factor as the quality that compels people to pay close and sustained attention to a product, concept or idea.” (Gladwell 2000). It is often in the rare instance that such an exchange ignites a word-of-mouth epidemic or trend. If we take a look at #MeToo campaign, part of the success of it was to do with how deeply personal it felt, and through the use of social media platforms, authors are able to share their personal stories for the public to follow via the use of the hashtag.
  • The Connector – Although the six degrees of separation theories suggested that you are able to reach the whole world within 5 intermediaries. This does not mean that nano-influencers can just reach out to any 5 -7 friends on Facebook to get to know the whole world. Gladwell argued that the door between you and the whole world is not through your regular friends, but by those which he called the ‘Connectors’, the ones that have many friends and have friends that live outside the echo chamber (Gladwell 2000).


Nano-influencers can be really considered as one of the most powerful and underestimated group on social media today, but with only a few individuals that can really master it. What is considered to be important in this discussion is what makes Nano-Influencers so adaptable in the digital world today, how can they utilise their advantage on the trust they have established with their audiences and how do they create a ‘sticky’ message that can be spread by their niche followers. On the other hand, big digital influencers should also consider how to tailor their communication style in a way that could be more interactive and engaging for their ‘followers’. Once these questions are answered, maybe we would enter an era as Andy Warhol predicted: “In the future, everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.” (Martin, n.d.).


Anderson, M. (2014, December 26). 88% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations. Retrieved from https://searchengineland.com/88-consumers-trust-online-reviews-much-personal-recommendations-195803

Bloomberg. (2018, April). Donald Trump’s Tweets Toy With Stocks. Retrieved April 26, 2018, from http://fortune.com/2018/04/07/donald-trump-tweets-stock-market/

Colletive Bias (2016, March 29). Influencer Marketing Update: Non-Celebrity Influencers 10 Times More Likely to Drive In-Store Purchases. (2016, March 29). Retrieved from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/influencer-marketing-update-non-celebrity-influencers-10-times-more-likely-to-drive-in-store-purchases-300241060.html

eMarketer. (2018). Millennials Are Wary of Celebrity Endorsements – eMarketer. [online] Available at: https://www.emarketer.com/content/millennials-are-wary-of-celebrity-endorsements [Accessed 25 Apr. 2018].

Gladwell, M. (2000). The tipping point. Boston: Little, Brown.

GlobalSportsJobs. (2017, February 17). The rise of peer to peer marketing in sport. Retrieved from https://www.globalsportsjobs.com/article/the-rise-of-peer-to-peer-marketing-in-sport/

Grunig, J. (2006). Furnishing the Edifice: Ongoing Research on Public Relations As a Strategic Management Function. Journal of Public Relations Research, 18(2), pp.151-176.

Hall, S. (1980). Active Audience Theory: Encoding & Decoding Theory.

Martin, G. (n.d.). ‘Fifteen minutes of fame’ – the meaning and origin of this phrase. Retrieved from https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/fifteen-minutes-of-fame.html

Q&A: James Grunig, PR Theorist & Creator of The Excellence Theory. (2013, October 06). Retrieved from https://excellencetheory.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/pr-professional-3-qa/

Robert Cialdini (1984) Influence–The psychology of persuasion

Rouse, M. (n.d.). What is six degrees of separation? – Definition from WhatIs.com. Retrieved from https://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/six-degrees-of-separation

Todorov (2018). Why Influencer Marketing And Who Is The Right Influencer?. [online] Evancarmichael.com. Available at: http://www.evancarmichael.com/library/georgi-todorov/Why-Influencer-Marketing-And-Who-Is-The-Right-Influencer.html [Accessed 25 Apr. 2018].

Vemuri, K & Madhav, T.P (2004). ‘Celebrity Endorsement” Through the Ages’

Wagner, K., & Molla, R. (2017, September 14). Here’s how much social media stars get paid to post ads. Retrieved from https://www.recode.net/2017/9/14/16290536/social-media-how-much-celebrities-make-ads-advertising-instagram-influencer

Whitler, K. A. (2017, November 05). Why Word Of Mouth Marketing Is The Most Important Social Media. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kimberlywhitler/2014/07/17/why-word-of-mouth-marketing-is-the-most-important-social-media/#11681b3554a8


Assessment 3 · Uncategorized

Algorithm and the ethical problem

Nan Zhou

SID 460242376

There is controversy over the published book The Bestseller code by scholar of Stanford University, Jodie Archer and Matthew L Jockers. In their book they find the best-selling code which actually is the algorithm used to predict reader’s reaction to the character, plot, theme according to the example analysis. By using this data-driven approaches, publishers choose book topics that readers would love, and find their target audience. Critics argue it replace ‘gut instinct and wishful thinking with data’ (Susanne, 2016) and weak author’s creative thinking while the supporter thinks it could save the growing weaker publishing industry.

Not only the controversy over the publishing industry, the use of algorithm has raised the ethical concern towards it. Nowadays, with the accessibility of Internet in most of the societies, it seems that most of the societies living under the governance by the algorithm, our daily lives and realities was shaped by it. The algorithm affects what we read, what we choose, what we consume and even predict our future willing through different algorithm operation system. There is researcher called this considerable internet phenomenon as ‘algorithmic selection’ (Latzer, 2014). Latzer generally describes algorithm as ‘a finite series of precisely described rules or processes to solve a problem’. There are also researchers the society is moving into an ‘algorithm culture’ which is ‘the sorting. Classifying and hierarchizing of people, places, objects and ideas—increasing to computational processes’ (Hutchinson, cited striphas, 2017). The model of algorithm selection on the Internet can be simply classified into three stages, Input, throughput and output, but its statistical operation varies for its different applications serve. Natasha (2016) provides an empirically based functional typology of Internet algorithm service, which includes: Search application, aggregation applications, observation/surveillance application, prognosis application, filtering application, recommendation application, scoring application, content production application, allocation application. For example, the recommendation system is used by internet streaming services like Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon.

This algorithm system plays a role as the cultural intermediation which used undertaken by the expertise in the area. Nowadays, people’s cultural experience was tailored based on user’s past inquiry or consumption data recoding as well as the software algorithm output. In the past, the society set ethical rules for human to abide, but now, the rule of culture intermediation has shifted from human to computer, so the central question is that how to apply ethical rules in the algorithm. Latzer (2014) identifies eight risks raised by the algorithm culture: manipulation, diminishing variety, the creation of biases and distortions of reality, constraints on the freedom of communication and expression, threats to data protection and privacy, social discrimination, violation of intellectual property rights, possible transformation and adaptions of the human brain, uncertain effects of the power of algorithms on humans.

Nowadays, most people search the information, such as tourist destination, hotel information through it. However, it is very likely to cause the ‘manipulation’. The case of Wei zexi can help to explain the manipulation of search out. Wei Zexi was a 21 years old Chinese college student in 2014 diagnosed with a special cancel, synovial sarcoma. After the fail of radiation and chemotherapy treatment, he sought help from Baidu, the biggest search engine in China, accounted for about 90 percent of the market share, like the google. Wei chose the first promoted hospital on Baidu called the second hospital of Beijing arm. However, it is a hospital run by a private medical institute which provided immunotherapy treatments to Wei and claimed their treatment cooperates with Stanford University with 80%-90% successful rate. After receiving failed treatment, he missed the best-saving treatment and spend all the family’s saving, he died at 22 years old. This case extremely reflected the immorality of both the Baidu and the hospital. For a long time, Baidu operated the paid search which posits the search result according to the price without examining the truth and legality. The death of Wei can reflect the possible consequence of using the search engine to acquire information online. Because of the paid search throughput algorithm, the public would get manipulated research outcome. After the case, Baidu takes off the recommendation of this private institute and promise to check the trustworthy of the recommended information. Not only the Baidu but also Google will provide the user the outcome what they want to see. When you Google ‘What happened to the dinosaurs, the first research result is the website ‘Answer in Genesis’. The website explains the extinction of dinosaurs by using the Biblical theory with a few lines explain the truth of what happened to dinosaurs (David, 2015). The truth is that the search engine never said they will deliver the best outcome but the most efficient one, however, the public tend to treat the search engine as the way to find the truth.

The algorithm search outcome and recommendation based on the people’s past action and personal’s willing is easily classified people into a different echo chamber and cause the virus spread of ‘post-truth’ online.    It is a time that the authority of traditional media is vanishing, the audience is difficult to distinguish the truth of an opinion. In this circumstance, the audience submits to the position, emotion, voice, and stereotype within the echo chamber they belong to and make the decision influenced by the echo chamber. Personal position and emotion replace the truth and reality, and the recommendation algorithm magnified the ‘post-truth’. The best example is the Facebook. Facebook’s algorithm selection is based on factors: paid promoted post, users past interacted post, users liking, commenting, sharing. Then the algorithm decides which trending news was recommended to the user. However, the Facebook algorithm has been closed and the public has no idea what values, principles, and standards were set in the algorithm when it recommends the news. The public tends to see and believe what they want to see and believe, and the algorithm happens to support the filter process. If the echo chamber was manipulated by the politicians or the capital power, then the outcome can be disastrous. The scandal of Facebook data leak and the Cambridge Analytica can be the example. The algorithm also has the function of agenda setting and reality construction, diversity and democracy may disappear in this circumstance. Different with traditional mass media in reconstructing the reality, the algorithm relies on personalization and individualization to feature its reality construction based on the user characteristic, behavior and location (Natascha,2016). Significantly, the algorithm is based on the qualitative and quantitative data from the audience behaviour, it should raise the public attention to the algorithm outcome. The risks existed in the algorithm culture is a spiral and rising process if the developer does not pay attention to the ethical, equality issue in the algorithm. For example, the male may see more high salary job advertisements online than female when they look forward jobs. Furthermore, the personalization of algorithm generates risks considering users privacy and data protection.

In conclusion, the widespread use of algorithm application in most of the industries should raise more ethical concern to it. This article uses the example of Wei Zexi of Baidu, and the Google’s explanation to the extinction of dinosaur can be the example of the manipulation of search engine algorithm. Other risks, such as the ‘post-truth’ magnified by the personalization and individualization of the algorithm also discussed in the article. However, other risk and empirical evidence related to the algorithm and its risk, such as gender equality should be discussed further.


Althoff, Susanne. 2018. “Algorithms Could Save Book Publishing—But Ruin Novels”. WIRED. https://www.wired.com/2016/09/bestseller-code/.

Latzer, Michael, Katharina Hollnbuchler, Natascha Just, and Florian Saurwein. 2014. “The Economics Of Algorithm Selection On The Internet”. Mediachange.Ch. http://www.mediachange.ch/media//pdf/publications/Economics_of_algorithmic_selection_WP.pdf.

Just, Natascha, and Michael Latzer. 2016. “Governance By Algorithms: Reality Construction By Algorithmic Selection On The Internet”. Media, Culture & Society 39 (2): 238-258. doi:10.1177/0163443716643157.

Hutchinson, Jonathon. 2017. “Algorithmic Culture And Cultural Intermediation”. In Cultural Intermediaries, 1st ed., 201-219. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi-org.ezproxy1.library.usyd.edu.au/10.1007/978-3-319-66287-9_9.

Webber, David. 2018. “Should Search Algorithms Be Moral? A Conversation With Google’S In-House Philosopher”. Quartz. https://qz.com/451051/should-search-algorithms-be-moral-a-conversation-with-googles-in-house-philosopher/.