Assessment 3

Social Media Ethics and Regulations

Defining what is good and bad could be difficult, as people have different perceptions – whether this is due to religious beliefs, cultural upbringing or a lack of respect for the law, expression of right or wrong could determine action or reaction. However, when it comes to social media, ethics is usually a guideline users agree to follow, and whether they break the rules is entirely up to them: however, users also agree to the consequences that will be determined due to their actions.[1]

When using social media, users need to comply with the rules and regulations of each website – respect for other users, no abusive, sexual or offensive content as well as avoiding spam links that may steal information. If these rules are broken, social media websites can and will act against immoral users.[2]

“In social media, the right ethic equals the right perspective and the right thinking on how to leverage social media appropriately and how to engage people in the right manner.” – Carolyn Cohn, Social Media Ethics and Etiquette.[3]

Every country has opposing governing laws and ethics codes. If these laws are broken, there could be serious consequences and the perpetrator could be held accountable, or even imprisoned. Similar laws apply for the media, as well as internet users. [4]

“Lawmakers, regulators and the courts are slow to keep pace with technological change, including the evolving social media landscape, but previous law remains important.” Jeremy Harris Lipschultz, Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics.

Many users assume they are safely hidden behind their glowing devices, secure of all consequences relating to their actions on social networking websites. Though the internet is vast and difficult to maintain, this assumption is furthest from the truth. Websites generally expect users to agree to their terms and conditions when signing on, which includes complying with their ethics regulations. The termsand conditions will state that website managers are required to act against users that may be in violation of breaking their terms, whether this includes abuse of other users, sharing spam files that are corrupt and infected with viruses, spreading hate messages, politically charged anarchy or personally attacking governments, organisations and religious groups, fraud, or any other violation acting against the principals for each respective website that may cause legal issues.

[1] Gordon, D., Kittross, J., Merrill, J., & Reuss, C. (1999). Controversies in media ethics. New York: Longman.

[2] Lipschultz, J. (2017). Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (2nd ed., pp. 271-292). Nebraska: Taylor & Francis Group.

[3] Cohn, C. (2018). Social Media Ethics and EtiquetteCompuKol Communications. Retrieved 25th April 2018, from

[4] Lipschultz, J. (2017). Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (2nd ed., pp. 236-270). Nebraska: Taylor & Francis Group.Image 1

Because of this, there are rules and regulations every user must follow, and these can vary with each respective country. Though each website has rules and regulations on a general basis, cultural differences apply in different regions of the world. [1]

Certain countries are very strict with social media platform usage, therefore can limit access or even ban websites completely. Though this may seem extreme, every country has its respective governing bodies keeping track of the media and internet users alike. This is to enforce caution on their population, to avoid incoming and outgoing spread of central information and political agenda.[2]

[1] Gordon, D., Kittross, J., Merrill, J., & Reuss, C. (1999). Controversies in media ethics. New York: Longman.

[2] Lipschultz, J. (2017). Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (2nd ed., pp. 271-292). Nebraska: Taylor & Francis Group.

image 2

Countries such as Turkey, Iran, China and North Korea struggle with internet restrictions, largely due to their respective leaders banning platforms that allow freedom of speech. This also limits journalists from revealing documents, research, videos or photographs that may be damaging to the reputation of the government in question.[1]

[1] Gordon, D., Kittross, J., Merrill, J., & Reuss, C. (1999). Controversies in media ethics. New York: Longman.

image 3

Though technology advances vastly, and the internet is still seen as a grey area that is difficult to control, or apply proper laws and order – mainly due to the broad scale of webpages and user count – users could still be monitored by the platforms they are using, leaving behind a traceable IP Address, which could be tracked down by the local police. [1]

However, to try and keep a healthy networking space, many social media platforms will warn users of reporting unacceptable behavior, as well as warning problematic users or terminating disagreeable user accounts.[2] Due to this, websites will also clarify by explaining that when users agree to the terms and conditions, they are agreeing to the clause that gives the website runners permission to hand over user

data to law enforcers as evidence – should evidence need to be provided. Therefore, users are cautioned to comply with the rules and regulations of chosen social media platforms. [1]

 “Centuries of jurisprudence about media law provide a foundation for understanding

particular challenges we face when using social media” Stewart, D. Social Media and the Law

[1] Gordon, D., Kittross, J., Merrill, J., & Reuss, C. (1999). Controversies in media ethics. New York: Longman.

[1] Lipschultz, J. (2017). Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (2nd ed., pp. 271-292). Nebraska: Taylor & Francis Group.

[2] Cohn, C. (2018). Social Media Ethics and EtiquetteCompuKol Communications. Retrieved 25th April 2018, from

image 4

image 5

However, there are many cautions to stop users from committing fraud, spam, or sharing links that may be spreading hate, fear, abuse, or even links to other websites that may contain information stealing viruses, which could access your personal emails, banking details as well as forward the spam message to all your friends on your account, which then will also infect their computers and steal their information as well. [1]

[1] Lipschultz, J. (2017). Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (2nd ed., pp. 271-292). Nebraska: Taylor & Francis Group.

image 6

To avoid fraud and identity theft, users are cautioned to watch out for specific signs, or to report anything they made deem as suspicious activity. However, there is only so much website managers could do to help users, so consumers are responsible for whom they speak with, information they share, as well as groups they join or willingly access links shared to them by unknown users.[1]

There are users willing to spread misinformation regarding celebrities, politicians, fellow employees, false charity organisations – only to gain likes, shares, make money or to gain media attention for their own provocative needs. Unless user accounts have verification of their authority, or the information they are sharing is based on fact and evidence, their accounts will be suspended. This includes users spreading lies, making accusations and ultimately using defamatory speech to target people or groups – which could be especially harming to any targeted individual’s reputation.[1] This could cause issues in their private, public and work life, which could lead to psychological distress. This is where social media ethics and regulations should apply heavily to stop this kind of behavior.

[1] Gordon, D., Kittross, J., Merrill, J., & Reuss, C. (1999). Controversies in media ethics. New York: Longman.

[1] Lipschultz, J. (2017). Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (2nd ed., pp. 236-270). Nebraska: Taylor & Francis Group.

“An interactive network, to which anyone can contribute and in which information

is exchanged rather than simply delivered, creates ethical issues that go

beyond those faced by professionals working in traditional media environments.” Jane B. Singer Online Journalism Ethics[1]

What Singer means is that it is very complicated regarding ethical issues within social media. It is very difficult to monitor the actions of every user consistently. Because of this, many users have the potential to spread influential messages – negative or otherwise, and even cause controversial issues. Whereas traditional media is subject to censorship to avoid repercussions.

“Like traditional media, the Internet allows speakers to communicate their messages to a large consuming public. However, because the content providers include independent speakers – whose information may be subject to minimal editing – as well as traditional media speakers – whose information is often verified and edited – defamatory speech has greater potential to reach a widespread audience. Given the speed with which such content can be disseminated and reputations injured as a result… defamatory Internet speech must be critically evaluated.” [2] – Karen Sanders, Ethics & Journalism

There is still a long road ahead till the internet becomes something easy to comprehend. For now, small restrictions, terms and conditions – or rules and regulations will apply. This does not mean that users will comply, but the more social media runners learn about user behaviour, the more likely it is that they will become prone to finding crafty and advanced methods of hindering people from breaking their rules. The future may hold interesting new innovative ideas for social media platform developers – for now, the terms and conditions will have to suffice.

[1] Friend, C., & Singer, J. Online journalism ethics.

[2] Sanders, K. (2008). Ethics & journalism. Los Angeles: Sage.


  • Lipschultz, J. (2017). Social Media Communication : Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics(2nd ed., pp. 271-292). Nebraska: Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Sanders, K. (2008). Ethics & journalism. Los Angeles: Sage.
Assessment 3 · fake news · Media Literacy · Social Media Communication

Fake News, Political Trolling and Two Presidents

MECO 6936 Social Media Communication

Name: Jerwin Santos

SID: 470513295

Class session:  Cherry Baylosis  Thursday 12-3 pm


Introduction: A Case of Two Presidential Elections

In March 2018, news broke out about data leak of about 87million users of Facebook and ending up to a Cambridge Analytica (CA), a company in the business of using data analytics to influence behavior through social media particularly for election campaigns. In a Forbes article (Bloomberg, 2018), the company had worked with the Trump candidacy among other notable personalities (for more details on the data breach, see article here), and is said to have been pivotal in the turnout in the most recent US elections.

However, Facebook and CA’s connection to the incumbent US president’s victory is just a progeny to another yet case with an infamous political figure in a small country called The Philippines. As soon as the Facebook data breach scandal erupted, speculations on how the campaign strategy of elected Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, had used social media (Etter, 2017) for the May 2015 elections, may have been mirrored by that of the US. Facebook also claimed that around 87million Facebook accounts in the Philippines were exposed to the data breach, this is the highest number next to the US (Punit, 2018). In a timeline collated across several sources (See Figure 1), CA also came up in several instances and even alluded to have been responsible for a Philippine candidate’s victory as far back as 2013 (Horwitz & Ghoshal, 2018). And a year before the Philippine elections, CA CEO was reported to have been in Manila and met with campaign strategists of then presidential aspirant Duterte. Eventually, by a landslide, Duterte won, allegedly the least funded candidate, however, armed with a very strong social media campaign machinery (Etter, 2017).

Screen Shot 2018-05-01 at 10.22.44 pm

Figure 1: Chronology of select events leading to the Facebook Data Leak Case (Created using Timegraphics)


Figure 2: Cambridge Analytica CEO with Duterte campaign strategists (Placido, 2018)

Philippines: A Social Media Landscape

Ever since 2011, the Philippines have been ranking highly in social media usage and mobile engagement. It ranked first among the countries that spend most time in social media (Singh,2011) up to 2018 (Kemp, 2018). It is to be noted that according to Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association or GSMA, the mobile operator governing and standards body, the Philippines had the fastest growing internet population between 2008 to 2013, and registered the top country in SMS transmission far exceeding those of Indonesia an even China. With these, there is no doubt that the Philippines was a fountain for social media activity on a global scale.

In 2014, Facebook, in line with the inception of its initiative, launched the first zero-rated Facebook, or “free facebook” in the world. This means that he use of Facebook will not incur data charges for the user. And thus, this further catapults social media penetration and subscriber unprecedented rise among telco carriers in the Philippines (Globe,2014).

However, the free Facebook also came with some problematic challenges, according to a study by Global Voices (Palatino,2017), a global anti-censorship activism group protecting internet freedom. Outside links from articles shared in Facebook did not come free or zero-rated, and that, only headlines and photo or video captions were visible to consumers of the free service. To access these links, the user needed to pay data charges. According to Global Voices, this further promoted fake news through provocative and misleading headlines which social media users use to engage without seeing the whole content (Palatino, 2017).

Screen Shot 2018-05-01 at 10.27.20 pm

Figure 3: Free Facebook (Palatinoi, 2017)

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Figure 4: Philippines spent most time in social media (Kemp, 2016)

Political Trolling, Fake News and Keyboard Armies

The investigative article by Bloomberg (2017), the Duterte presidential social media campaign came fully equipped with popular cultural intermediaries, but also came riddled with accounts of fake news, an army of online supporters and political trolls. Even The Economist (2017) further supplies that these so-called “keyboard armies” were employed by the presidential campaign proponents to spread false news accounts with the objective of “capturing, manipulating, and consuming attention” – which is the currency in social media (The Economist, 2017).

Fake news is disguised as news reports however are intended to misguide its intended readers. They were prevalent before to ensnare users for the purposes of building social media capital though likes, shares, or “click-baits” that convert to commercial revenues. However, these election campaign also saw the rise of fake news as a means for ideological advancement, promotion of causes, or smear an opposing party (Tandoc et al, 2018). These so-called fake news come in the form of satire, parodies, outright fabrication, photo manipulation, propaganda, advertisements (Tandoc et al, 2018).

One of the fake news accounts that went viral was that of “EVEN THE POPE ADMIRES DUTERTE” (below). It had spread across social media by the campaign keyboard army even before it came under fact audit. The hype generated had catapulted him to Facebook stardom that one month prior to elections he dominated 64% of election engagement topics. It was only after that this was denied by the Catholic church in the Philippines, as news fabrication (Etter, 2017).


Figure 4: How to Identify a Troll (Community, 2012)

However, the next prong to the campaign strategy is the employment of massive online supporters or trolls or “keyboard army” to spread fake news accounts, and obstreperously persecute non-supporters of Duterte branding themselves as “Dutertards” (Etter, 2017). According to Los Angeles Times in an interview with Freedom House, an independent vigilance organization on freedom and democracy across the globe, this army were paid 10$ per day to attack oppositions, non-supporters, and critics to the Duterte  candidacy (Ayres, 2017).

Screen Shot 2018-05-01 at 10.32.30 pm

Figure 5: “Even the Pope Admires Duterte” (Etter, 2017)


Conclusion: Media Literacy did not catch up with the Philippine’s Social Media Stardom

As fast as digital media and social media penetrated society, in the Philippines, as a prime example, governance and norms have remained a fluid and reactive mechanism. As impressive as it may have started, presenting the fertility of social media in the Philippines, it was unprecedented that such first world strategies could be used to a third world country like the Philippines.

Screen Shot 2018-05-01 at 10.34.03 pm

Figure 6: Random Filipinos waiting for Jeepney ride (Bloomberg, 2017)

According to the Digital Journalism Journal article “Defining Fake News” (Tandoc, 2018), content is as liable as the audience, in this case, the Filipino netizens, however is as true in the United States. In this revolutionalised platform called social media, meanings of news are “negotiated”. It is important that such are legitimised by the recipient of news whether propagated by trolls or keyboard armies or published surreptitiously.

However, such initiatives to self-legitimise online content, or social media communication, as part of consumption may be oversimplification, without incorporating one’s society’s cultural context. A perfect example to this is the free Facebook and the resulting behavior among users in the Philippines, which may not be true to a neighboring country like Singapore.

As discussed by Lipschultz (2018), education sector must now be equipped with media and information literacy into the classrooms. However, it is uncertain that such implementation leadtime will be timely given the pace by which social media and technology threats evolve. And thus, while it is not supported yet by legislation, it may rely on the Philippines’ Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education to actively push across public and private schools for discussion to commence.

It is now left with citizen-voluntary actions to spearhead quick wins through what Lipschultz (2018) describe as “role of active and deliberative citizenship”. With funding, organisations that can focus on literacy programs, can provide a more dynamic and agile response to almost nil awareness of such threats in the Philippines.


Ayres, S. (2017, Nov 14). ‘Keyboard armies’ aid dictators, report says; freedom house details the global spread of information manipulation. Los Angeles TimesRetrieved from

Bloomberg. (2018, April). Facebook Cambridge Analytica Scandal: Here’s What Happened. Retrieved from

Community 102. (2012, August 07). How To Identify An Internet Troll – INFOGRAPHIC. Retrieved from

Edson C. Tandoc Jr., Zheng Wei Lim & Richard Ling (2017) Defining “Fake News”, Digital Journalism, 6:2, 137-153, DOI: 10.1080/21670811.2017.1360143
Etter, L. (2017, December 07). How Duterte Turned Facebook Into a Weapon-With Help From Facebook. Retrieved from
Freedom House. (2018, January 16). New Report – Freedom on the Net 2017: Manipulating Social Media to Undermine Democracy. Retrieved from
Globe Telecom, Inc. (2014, February 25). Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: Philippines a successful test bed for initiative with Globe Telecom partnership. Retrieved from
GSMA Intelligence. (2014, December). Country overview: Philippines Growth through innovation. Retrieved from
Horwitz, J., & Ghoshal, D. (2018, April 09). Cambridge Analytica boasted about branding a Filipino politician as tough and “no-nonsense”. Retrieved from
Kemp, S. (2018, January 30). Digital in 2018: World’s internet users pass the 4 billion mark. Retrieved from
Lipschultz, J. H. (2018). Future of Social Media and Information Literacy. In Social media communication concepts, practices, data, law and ethics (2nd ed., pp. 315–337). New York, New York ; London, [England] : Routledge.

Palatino, M. (2017, July 28). Philippines: On Facebook’s Free Version, Fake News is Even Harder to Spot. Retrieved from

Placido, D. (2018, April 08). Duterte supporters deny Cambridge Analytica links after photo surfaces. Retrieved from
Punit, I. S. (2018, April 05). 335 Indians installed a Cambridge Analytica app, exposing the Facebook data of 560,000. Retrieved from
Reuters. (2018, April 13). Philippines’ watchdog probes Facebook over Cambridge Analytica data… Retrieved from
Singh, A. (2011, June). The Philippines Spends Highest Share of Time on Social Networking Across Markets. Retrieved from
The Economist. (2017, November). How the world was trolled; Social media and politics. Retrieved from|A512853740&v=2.1&it=r&sid=summon&authCount=1#
Assessment 3

How cultural intermediaries bridge the gap between brand and audiences: using the case of a Chinese shopping app RED

MECO 6936 Social Media Communication

Name: Junyi ZHANG

SID: 460255398

Class session:  Kai  Soh  Thursday 6-9 pm


How cultural intermediaries bridge the gap between brand and audiences: using the case of a Chinese shopping app RED

The term “cultural intermediaries” was firstly introduced by Bourdieu (1984) in his book Distinction: A social critique of taste, which refer to a new middle class “new petite bourgeoisie” who transfer cultural capital into economic capital. For Bourdieu, cultural intermediaries are typified by the agents in sales, marketing, advertising, public relations and so forth. Based on Bourdieu’s theory, Negus (2002) suggests that the role of cultural intermediaries in the creative industries, explaining how record companies and their artist and repertoire (A&R) agents located between pop music artists and mass audiences. Same as A&R agents connecting consumption and production in creative industry, Hutchinson (2017) argues that social media influencers are doing the similar thing in the online environment. The co-creative, decentralized social media contents production environment is conductive to the emergence of digital influencers, who can both engage a large group of individuals and align with brands well.

Who are the cultural intermediaries?

According to previous research, cultural intermediaries are those who have tacit expertise within specific cultural fields, and have the ability to influence other’s orientations towards goods or services. They also understand surrounding stakeholders’ interests clearly, translate one source of capital from one stakeholder group to another, and finally facilitate cultural production. According to Maguire and Matthews (2012), cultural intermediaries’ personal and professional habits, such as their occupations and their class, enabling their expert roles in value production processes. Hutchinson (2017) raises four typical types of cultural intermediaries within the new media ecology: social media producers, community managers, change agents, and micro influencers. Social media producers are those who produce contents for brands, such as Kendall Jenner post selfie with Daniel Wellington watch on Instagram and have got 3,956,442 likes (as shown in Figure 1). Micro-influencers are the micro-celebrities who frame audiences’ attitude of goods or services through social media, such as Instagram (Abidin, 2015). Social media producers and micro-influencers both have great understanding of customers’ norms and cultural taste. They can capture “cool” goods and provoke customers’ interests through social media, and then let customers share through their fan networks, and finally reach the exponentially influence by word-of-mouth marketing. Change agents are the “opinion leaders” who can guide public opinion towards the right direction. For example, Matt Damon used toilet water for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) Ice Bucket Challenge to highlight the scarcity of water and the benefit of Ice Bucket Challenge. He played the “change agent” role to realign the direction of the campaign when it had been criticized. Community managers can spread messages across multiple platforms through some community-management techniques. They have the ability to develop new governance models for online communities. Hutchinson (2017) highlighted that all these roles are should positions co-creative audiences alongside existing institutional models.


Figure 1


Case study: RED (xiaohongshu) app

RED (xiaohongshu) is a social e-commerce app that provide a platform for Chinese users buying oversea products, and sharing shopping tips (as shown in Figure 2). Targeted to 18 to 35-year-old Chinese women, RED helps users buy luxury goods from oversea, such as cosmetics from Asia, nutrition from Australia, fashion products from European. Differentiated from other cross-border e-commerce app, RED have very high engagement rate. Until 2016, there are more than 200,000 bloggers posting their findings on RED for other users to peruse (Rowan, 2016). According to Analysys data (2018), the Monthly Active Users (MAU) of RED has reached 15,394,700 in 2017. There are several celebrities share their cosmetics recommendation in RED as well, such as Chinese famous actress Fan bingbing, pop star Angela Chang (as shown in Figure 3). These celebrities have considerable influence in sales when they promote a product (Popescu, 2014). Several products recommended by Fan bingbing even out of stock for a long while. Because of the increasing number of celebrities entering this platform, RED even opened a “celebrities” category for users to find these celebrities’ recommendations easily. As the CEO Mao said in 2016 (Rowan, 2016), RED is an incubator for word-of-mouth marketing, with vocal opinion leaders who share their experiences with foreign merchandise and experiences, and help savvy shoppers to get the best products from overseas.


Figure 2


Figure 3


How cultural intermediaries bridging the gap between RED and users?

Hutchinson (2017) outlined three model of cultural intermediation that align with social media governance: single point of contact, multiple cultural intermediaries, community editors (as shown in Figure 4). I will illustrate these three model with the case of RED.


Figure 4


Single point of contact: This model is the most centralized model of social media governance which simply keep the connection between co-creative contents and institutions’ governance. For the case of RED, at the beginning, it just hired shopping experts and travel experts to write review of merchandise bought overseas, and it aim to help users buy valuable goods when they travel outside. There are a few staff vet every shopping reviews contributed by experts before publishing it online. These staffs can help to convey the core message to audiences, while ensure the contents maintain the integrity of the institution. Thus, these staffs can be seen as the cultural intermediaries under the single point of contact model. However, under this model, it only allows a few experts contributing contents, and it cannot quickly response to the change happened in online community.


Multiple cultural intermediaries: By realizing their target audiences’ willing of sharing experience and deep trust of these review, RED has begun to encourage audiences sharing on the platform with some coupon reward in the late of 2014 (Rowan, 2016). There are multiple cultural intermediaries involved in these platform to guide the production of cultural artifacts. Firstly, RED assigns a team called “Captain Shu” to highlight the most useful posts and give higher reward for these bloggers. They also reclassify the contents and block some negative contents as well. Furthermore, it would hold some discussion topic to engage with audience. Captain Shu plays “institutional facilitators” role that know what contents can increase users’ interest and how users will join in it. Secondly, there are micro-influencers involved. Besides shopping experts, RED hired more cosmetics or fashion experts from other social media platforms to share their recommendations of the goods, usually for the goods selling on the RED. With the endorsement of the micro-celebrities, some niche products can quickly be noticed by the followers. Thirdly, users become nano-influencers. They not have much flowers, usually between 100 to 10,000, but they have high degrees of credibility, especially when they are friends or families of the audience. Brown (2018) post a research shows that Generation Z and young millennials tends to trust recommendations from influencers more than what brand itself says. Furthermore, females are willing to share their experience with friends, even strangers. These cultural intermediaries operate simultaneously to ensure the co-creative environment align with the core governance model of the institution.


Community editors: In this model, users increase their responsibilities to help facilitate this platform. Users under this model are not only participate in the cultural artifacts productions, but also monitor and negotiate the co-creation environment to ensure contents represent each stakeholders appropriately. For the case of RED, users have the right to report the content related to advertising, spam, or illegal (as shown in Figure 5).


Figure 5


Critical issues

Influencers can reach the audiences effectively, but it is possible that they share some recommendations of low quality or unsuitable goods or services just because they belong to one part of the whole commodity chain. For the case of RED, one of the mask shared by famous celebrity Fan bingbing has been criticized not suitable for all skin type. Although cultural intermediaries can facilitate the collaborative cultural production through influencers effect, it may spread fake news at a large scale as well. Thus, the monitoring mission of cultural intermediaries should not be omitted.



In conclusion, in contemporary social media environment, cultural intermediaries are useful “tools” for media organization to engage with niche and fragmented audiences. Cultural intermediaries also solve the problem of low quality or poor entertainment value contents under participatory culture through their expertise on engaging audiences and delivering brands’ value. This essay use the example of one e-commerce app RED to illustrate how the three modes of cultural intermediation works in connecting brands and audience. Although cultural intermediaries still have side effect should be dealing, they are connecting production and consumption and trying maximize economic value undoubtedly.



Abidin, C. (2015). Micromicrocelebrity: branding babies on the internet. M/C Journal18(5).

Analysys data. (2018). 2017 e-commerce Top 100. Retrieved from

Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of taste. Trans. Richard Nice. Cambridge: Harvard UP.

Brown, E. (2018, April 4). One in three trust an influencer’s words over what a brand says. ZD Net. Retrieved from

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

Hutchinson, J. (2017). Introduction Cultural Intermediaries: Audience participation and media organisations(pp. 1-30). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Maguire, J. S., & Matthews, J. (2012). Are we all cultural intermediaries now? An introduction to cultural intermediaries in context.

Negus, K. (2002). The Work of Cultural Intermediaries and the Enduring Distance between Production and Consumption. Cultural Studies, 16 (4), 501-515.

Popescu, G. H. (2014). The economic value of celebrity endorsements: A literature review. Economics, Management and Financial Markets9(4), 119.

Rowan, D. (2016, March 16). China’s $1bn shopping app turns everyone into trendspotters. Wired Magazine. Retrieved from

Assessment 3

The active role of social media in the online media campaign


Social media is a vital product derived from the development of the Internet age. Especially since entering the 21st century, a large number of people in the world have become loyal users of social media. They rely on these social platforms to produce and discover information (Berkman, 2013, para. 6, cited in Lipschultz, 2018). Meanwhile, Lipschultz (2018) pointed out that social media has spread rapidly in just a few years, and it was changing the role of a series of media practitioners. Whether it is news, public relations (PR), advertising or marketing practitioners, they all need to know how to use and operate social media effectively to help them achieve their goals. In other words, based on a series of features and unique advantages of social media, media practitioners should utilize social media as a powerful tool of communication to achieve effective interaction with potential audiences. Given this, compared with traditional media, this essay will discuss the unique role of social media in the online media campaign.

Social Media in Online Media Campaign

In the current information age, many electronic products are focused on mobile communication. Lipschultz (2018) mentioned that this dynamic, evolving technology has made social media more popular throughout the world. Besides, he also referred that combined with the high interactivity, the importance of user identity formation and the openness of shared content across cross-border communities, and these characteristic makes social media more advantageous than other applications. Through the social media platforms, users could create online identities to interact with others while they have not met each other in reality, and may also participate in online communities, activating other users to respond to the information he has given them. Thus, social media offers new opportunities for sharing events and news. Specifically, the companies or organizations transform social media users into its followers in a series of ways and then leverages the influence of social media users themselves in specific communities or groups to advertise news or events to more people. Lipschultz (2018) emphasized that getting information on social media is a significant activity, but it’s not the only thing that can be done. Users process photos, texts, and other communications. These stimuli are consumed and sometimes lead to spontaneous reactions. To prove his argument, he gave a series of examples, such as the functions of Facebook “likes” and “shares,” Twitter “favorites” and “retweets.” More importantly, at the same time, users who publish new content or share content may cause reactions from others. In this act, social media users are both consumers of brand advertising, and they are invisible as producers. This concept is defined as “Produsage.” Meanwhile, it has given a lot of inspiration to media practitioners. Also, it encourages them to interact more actively with social media users to increase the impact and trust of the online media campaign.



(Source: The Twitter Account @AustraliaSane, made by our media group)

Based on this, our media group is mainly focused on enhancing the attention from social media users when planning online media campaigns for SANE Australia. In maintaining the relationship with social media users, we need enough patience in the early stage. Baer (2013, cited in Lipschultz, 2018) mentioned that the premise of successful online media campaigns is to compete for the time, attention and loyalty of social media users through continued marketing and information. Thus, it is necessary to make users believe the authority of the organization through media group publishing a series of essential information of the organization. After the organization has a particular base of attention, our media group decided to preview the upcoming media activities in advance, and give priority to the core concept and significance of the event. In addition to the text, using a variety of visual communication, on the one hand, are more likely to attract the attention of the users. On the other hand, it will also become a supporting materials to help users more directly understanding the content of the    activities. For example, memes are simple tools that quickly draw the user’s interest. In a broad sense, Lipschultz (2018) claimed that it is understood as a cultural message from one person to another, but gradually expands into a common social phenomenon.

In the 21st century, Ferguson and Perse(2000, cited in Lipschultz, 2018) believed that the Internet had become a functional alternative to televisions. Moreover, according to the statistics from Lipschultz (2018), more than two-thirds of consumers use social media. Besides, 57% of consumers prefer brands on social media. This fully demonstrates that social media has the potential to become an advertising platform that replaces television and shopping websites. Advertising is often defined as a paid, one-way communication medium (Tuten, 2008, p.2, cited in Lipschultz, 2018). However, social media is a two-way consumer and brand communication. Online advertising is more about dialogue, connection and sharing control than passive packaging. Additionally, Vaynerchuk (2013, cited in Lipschultz, 2018) defined that great publicity as having a native platform. ” Native to the platform” is a vital concept in media practice. Although it may be similar to the selection of social media platforms, different social media have different styles and characteristics. For example, a photo posted on Facebook may not be suitable for posting on Instagram. While it may be useful for media practitioners to use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to organize social media conversations, specific social platforms have certain media temperament. Content managers should publish specific content according to different social platforms. Given this, our media team selected four social media including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr through surveys and research, and selectively published specific content according to their different media characteristics.


(Source: Left: Twitter Account @AustraliaSane                                                                         Right:  Instagram Account @australia. sane)

The Importance of Media Literacy


Media literacy is one of the core skills that media practitioners need to master because it is easy to expose problems in social media communication. Lipschultz (2018) pointed out that culture and stereotypes not only exist in traditional media but also in social media. As a cultural intermediary, social media has the more extensive influence on users than traditional media in modern times, especially for young generations. As a result, online content managers need to carefully review their content and consider the consequences that might arise. For instance, the organization that our media group serves is sane Australia, a nonprofit organization that focuses on mental illness. And mental illness often caused a passive impression to the public. So in release related online activities, our media team need to pay attention to the words so as avoid a negative impact on the organization. Meanwhile, Lipschultz (2018) emphasized that media practitioners’ views are likely to be imitated by teenagers. Therefore, in order to play a useful demonstration role for the young generation, enhance their media literacy, and eliminate stereotypes, media practitioners must be careful about what they publish.


As a platform with infinite value and potential, social media may not be as demanding as traditional media for media practitioners. But that does not mean it lacks rigor. On the contrary, because it is more open, online content managers need to rethink their media strategies and tactics. Besides, Lipschultz (2018) mentioned that in the era of big data, all activities on social platforms could be quantified, which urges media practitioners to timely follow up feedback from users and conduct the effective evaluation. In this way, the organization could continuously find the deficiencies in its social media communication to improve the future online media activities.

Reference List

Lipschultz, J. H. (2018). Introduction to Social Media Concepts Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (pp. 1-38). New York: Routledge.

Lipschultz, J. H. (2018). CMC, Diffusion and Social Theories Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (pp. 39-66). New York: Routledge

Lipschultz, J. H. (2018). Social Media Metrics and Analytics Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (pp. 157-182). New York: Routledge.

Lipschultz, J. H. (2018). New Mobile Media Technologies, Innovation and Investment Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (pp. 183-206). New York: Routledge.

Lipschultz, J. H. (2018). Future of Social Media and Information Literacy Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (pp. 319-344). New York: Routledge.



Assessment 3

The Popularity of Short-video Apps in China

MECO 6936 Social Media Communication

Name: Zehan Lin

SID: 470165463

Class session:  Kai    Friday 17:00–20:00

The popularity of Short-video Apps in China

tiktok.jpg              Kwai.jpg

(Douyin/ Tik Tok)                               (Kuaishou/ Kwai)

At present, short-video is an increasing popular mode for young people to create and share contents about their daily lives in an interesting way in China. Douyin (called Tik Tok overseas) is an example that it has 100 million users within one year, with over 1 billion daily playing times, and every user spends 20.27 minutes in average on Douyin every day (Jiguang Data, 2018). Short video applications are social media platforms with user-generated contents, which allow users to record and share happening in their ordinary lives through videos in limited time and allow users to discover the world through these online platforms. The reasons why do short-video applications become popular in China and what kinds of influences do they bring are two main questions will be explored through this journal. Short-video is a creative social media format for users to generate interesting and cultural content and communicate with others in a short time. However, quality of short-video contents is a necessary problem need to be considered. In this journal, I will discuss advantages of short-video applications in social media communication in the first two paragraphs and followed by its disadvantage.

Firstly, short-video mode adapts to fast-paced modern culture. Uses and gratification theory points out that “users will avoid content that does not provide psychological rewards” (Lipschultz, 2017). Users can shoot videos to produce contents instantly and easily with their camera on their phones rather than using professional devices. With the help of powerful editing functions on short-video apps, users can easily and quickly edit their own videos more impressive and interesting, instead of complex operations on professional editing desktop software. Going back to characteristics of social media, one of the most important characteristics is that technologies shift media to social media. “free web platforms and inexpensive software tools that enable people to share their media and easily access media produced by others” (Manovich, 2009). In terms of technical practice, short-video apps lower barriers for ordinary people to shoot and produce their own videos. In addition, users can spend less time on consuming contexts and getting other users’ information through short-video mode. For example, once users open their Douyin, they will consume videos immediately. Because videos are on the homepage, so when users are waiting for buses or trains, they can consume 2 or 3 videos quickly and conveniently. Time saving and quick consuming styles hook users at short-video apps when they need to kill time or share their experiences. Short-video is a new social media style for people to create and share their ideas with others easily and timely. Meanwhile, people can consume information in a quite short time through short-video. Short-video is an evolutionary innovation of communication for users to express and exchange ideas.
Mr. Gao.jpeg                               (Figure 1 Mr. Gao’s sharing about cultural activity)

Secondly, short-video apps are new social media platforms for users to express emotions and deliver cultural values with mass audience. Cultural intermediaries are important to translate values of cultural capitals and to engage audience participate into spreadable media environments (Hutchinson, 2017). Short-video apps are providing people new opportunities to represent ordinary lives and experience the outside world. For example, Kuaishou (called Kwai overseas) targets on audience come from second-tier or third-tier cities, and even undeveloped areas in China. They aim at encouraging those people to share their life experiences with broader ranges of audiences. Mr. Gao is a young man stays in his hometown when his friends and classmates moves to big cities for better career. He shares cultural custom activities on Kuaishou (Figure 1). Mr. Gao shows his home cultures to border audiences. At the same time, he reminds many young people of their hometowns and childhood memories, especially those who live and work in big cities alone. Homesick and loneliness is a common feeling for strangers in unfamiliar cities that are used as cultural capital to engage audience in the big environment. Short-videos are cultural intermediaries deliver social values and social belief that people are encountering and experiencing in their daily lives, thereby engaging more audience to reflect their daily lives and inspiring them to pay attentions to ordinary moments always be ignored. Another, short-video provides new possibilities for people to create values. Vernacular creativity refers to people produce and consume media in everyday creativity (Burgess, 2007). Jiang is a young man who works in an electronic factory. He spends most time putting screws in nuts during his work. However, he is passionate about designing cloth with natural materials, such as banana leaves and tree branches. He posts his own “Victoria Fashion Show” on Kuaishou and gets 5 million views (Figure 2). Victoria Show is a cultural capital that Jiang utilizes to attract audiences’ attentions and cause resonances. So far, he gets over 2 million followers and establish a team to produce videos on different platforms. Short-video helps Jiang to translate his cultural capitals into social capitals. Short-video applications are with collective intelligence and provide users a bigger stage to bring their ideas into creative works.


(Figure 2  Natural “Victoria Secret Show” by Jiang on Kuaishou)

            Lastly, the quality and influences of video content will be an issue need to be considered and monitored. Keen argues that user-generated content and amateur content is a danger thing that destroy quality content and damage professional content industries (2008). Young users are main audience on short-video applications. Take Douyin as an example, under 24 years old users are over 50 % (Jiguang Data, 2018). “Teen mother” arises a heated discussion about short-video regulations of young users. Teenage mother are teenage girls, 13-16 years old, broadcast their life as young mothers to hold their babies in their arms or share their pregnant experiences in videos. CCTV condemns underage motherhood on Kuaishou and exposes some photos to mass audiences. Social media sites are providing adolescents places to express themselves, and meanwhile look for sense of belongings and collective identities when they feel lonely or lost (Seo et al, 2013). Adolescent’s participations in social media platforms and usages of social networking sites are significant and necessary for those social media companies to carry out regulations. How to improve and supervise the quality of content is the first problem need to be fixed. Then, algorithm is the main way to recommend videos to users. Short video applications will accord to users’ habits and behaviours to predict users’ interests and select similar videos, which can attract users’ attentions but meanwhile is a dangerous thing to impede users’ vision in limited topics. Social media platform is an important platform to widen networks and discover more social ties. Granovetter demonstrates that weak ties have stronger influences on interpersonal networks because weak ties can bring more inspiration and new things than strong ties (1973). On short-video platforms, cultural capitals and emotional intimacy are main paths to connect users. Audiences gather together on shot-video to explore the outside world. They do not know each other but they can understand each other through short-videos. Therefore, how to improve algorithm and offer users border visions is another important issue at the moment.

Teen mom.jpg

(Figure 3. A Teenage mom show off her B-ultrasonography report on Kuaishou)

            In conclusion, short-video can be good social media format to deliver cultures and open people’s minds. The popularity of short-videos applications results from time killing demands and short concentration habits in fast-paced modern lives. As cultural intermediaries, short-video applications are beneficial for users to deliver cultural values and translate their cultural capitals into their social capitals. Going back to concerns about quality of contents, regulation of contents and provide a healthy and clear environment is one of the problems. In addition, recommending better content for users with help of algorithm is another issue.



Burgess, J. (2007). “Hearing ordinary voices: Cultural Studies, Vernacular Creativity and

Digital Storytelling, Continuum.” Routledge, 20 (2), 201-214.  Retrieved from

Lipschultz, J. H. (2018). “Introduction to Social Media Concepts.” Social media

Communication Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics, 2nd Edition, 19-55. London; New York: Routledge. Retrieved from

Granovetter, M, S. (1973). “The Strength of Weak Ties”. The University of Chicago Press,

78 (6), 1360-1380. Retrieved from

Hutchinson, J. (2017). Cultural Intermediaries: Audience Participation in Media

Organizations. Cham: Springer International Publishing, Palgrave Macmillan, Springer International Publishing AG, z.Hd. Retrieved from

Keen, A. (2008). The Cult of the Amateur: How Blogs, MySpace, Youtube, and the Rest of

today’s user-generated media are killing our culture and economy. London: Chris Welsh.

Manovich, L. (2009). “The Practice of Everyday Life: From Mass Consumption to Mass

Cultural Production”. Critical Inquiry, vol.35, no.2, 319-331. The University of Chicago Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.ory/stable/10.1086/596645

Seo et al. (2013). “Teen’s social media use and collective action”. New Media & Society, 16

(6), 883-902, doi:10.1177/1461444813495162. Retrieved from



Assessment 3

Algorithm mechanisms and artificial editing co-created ‘platisher’

MECO6936 Social Media Communication

Nipin Gong


Kai Soh’s Wednesday 5 pm class

In Web 2.0, the user-generated content and convergence have become the mainstream. The social media changed the positioning and has finished the transformation to a social platform mixing with the journalism and commerce. Glick (2014) firstly mentioned the concept of ‘platisher’ which combines the platform and publisher. In internet plus era, more and more people, especially the young generation get used to gain information from social media platforms. Correspondingly, these corporations use algorithm mechanism for news distribution and become the main force of news industry gradually. With the development of technology, the platforms abandoned the unfiltered content information flow, instead, they use algorithm mechanisms to capture, control, and sort the information flow to make it easier to manage.


News report of Facebook’s bias from the New York Times

In May 2016, Facebook is accused having the political bias. A former staff disclosed the ‘trending’ intentionally suppressed the content from the conservative source. Many people are angry with that the trending topics based on algorithms are manipulated artificially. Algorithms and its neutrality have brought intense discussion with it.


What is algorithm?

In Oxford dictionary, algorithm is explained as ‘a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations’. In other words, algorithm is an intelligent and efficient cultural intermediary which replaces the manual work to solve the overwhelming amount of data and save human’s time and energy. With the widespread of the internet, algorithm is used to discover statistical correlations within the large-scale database by using an array of analytical tools (Striphas, 2015). Jonathon (2017) declares media can provide the audiences with tailored content experience through analyzing their past consumption of media content. For example, Facebook’s algorithms are intended to provide users with articles that they want to spend time viewing, rather than the broad array of stories that users may not be interested in (Sunstein, 2017). According to Peng (2016), there are five main consideration elements evolving in the algorithm formula. The first one is user’s personal characteristics, which including the age, gender, interests, occupation and so on. Every click and comment from the user will be captured to characterize the user with keywords, tags and reading time. The second is the user’s network environment, such as what the devices the user use and whether he or she uses WI-FI or mobile data. Social feature is the third element. The characteristic of user’s community will reveal the invisible feature of the user. Fourthly, the analysis of the article itself. What keywords does it have, what labels it hits, and how popular it is? This also includes the similar article recommendations. The last one is the judgement for the news value from human editors.


What is algorithm neutrality?

As algorithm recommendation has been widely adopted in information distribution, “algorithmic neutrality” has come into the public view (Zou and Ma, 2018). Different from the traditional press, social platforms do not produce the original news. They use algorithm to mine the popular stories on platforms and make use of data set to produce the news stories. However, there is one problem with it. Does social media need to observe the traditional news rule to keep news neutrality? In another way, can social media implement algorithm neutrality without artificial intervention? Considering the five elements in the algorithm system, what decisions to take would directly affect the algorithm neutrality. In the case of Facebook’s bias, ‘trending’ is a small part on Facebook website, but panic was spreading because it was quite different from Facebook’s previous claims that it was a “neutral open” platform. In the article ‘Like it or not, Facebook is now a media company’, Camplan (2016) comments human editors became a ‘visible part of Facebook’s news curation process’. Their decision influences the inner work of Facebook and the content users see.


In April, a Chinese social app called ‘NeiHanDuanzi’ was ordered by State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of China to be permanently shut down due to its bad taste and vulgarity. It was an entertaining community app under the company of ‘TouTiao’, which contains short videos, funny comments, jokes and pictures. Its CEO Yiming Zhang (2012) once claimed that ‘the algorithm has no values’, which caused discussion of the merits and demerits of the algorithm recommendation.


The significance of artificial editing            

The shutdown of ‘NeiHanDuanZi’ has shown the importance to give the algorithm right value. That seems also reveal the necessity of the human editor. In respond to the issue of policy bias, Facebook explained that the artificial editing can make algorithm mechanisms work better. For example, when the algorithm finds a certain topic is popular among users, the editors would allow it to spread further by normative tags and pushing it to the match users. There is neither political bias nor changing the nature of algorithm recommendation. Therefore, human factors cannot be ignored in the algorithm mechanism. For instance, when the algorithm is capturing the user’s personal characteristics, human editors need to consider what user behaviours should be included and the importance level of each behaviour. Therefore, all algorithms are creations of human essentially, which contains many factors such as the algorithm compilers and the intentions of their institutions. It can be manipulated and changed by non-technical forces such as business and politics. In a word, the algorithm appears to be the power of the machine, but the one that determines it is human. The algorithm is inseparable from human beings and human’s involvement will produce the subjective tendencies, thus algorithm cannot be absolutely neutral.


A survey of Penguin Intelligence in 2016 (Penguin Intelligence is a professional organization for internet industry trend research and data analysis.) displays the users’ trust for information aggregation websites is much lower than portal news websites. The data analysis is shown as below chart.


This data further reveals the user’s distrust of the algorithm’s so-called neutrality. Dong (2017) analyses the user’s distrust for information aggregation websites is due to three main problems exposed by the algorithm mechanism. The first one is the excessive false information; the other is that the simple algorithm recommendation will bury important or critical information, bringing about prejudice and discrimination, and cause information loss; The last one is the backstage operation causes the information can be manipulated. In fact, to solve these problems, more and more information aggregation apps are supported by the cooperation of algorithm and artificial editing. For example, the combination is a powerful filter against the fake information. Algorithm captures the content matches fake information through the message comments and user reporting, then submit it to the human editors to check it again. In short, the significance of manual editing for the algorithm is significant. It can give the algorithm the right guidance to better serve the platform.


‘Platisher’ in web 2.0

Glick (2014) invented the word ‘platisher’ to describe the media form which presents the future trend of convergence. Generally speaking, ‘platisher’ is a form of media that combines algorithmic technology and the professional editorial operations based on the open platform. Therefore, platform-based media essentially integrates the open nature of the technology platform and the gatekeeping attributes of the media publishing industry. ‘Platisher’ broke the single logic of production and dissemination, which is open to all users and allow them to participate in the process of information production. It transforms the passive audience to active creator, and these user-generated content bring the platform tremendous traffic. Algorithm is a powerful tool to guide and deal with these online data. In addition, the professional journalists are still the internal core competitiveness of the ‘platisher’, so that the media in transition can adhere to high-quality content. Jiao (2015) mentions that ‘platisher’ is also helpful to create the new business model, excavating new channels and ways of commercial cooperation, and increasing revenues for the platforms.



As a cultural intermediary, algorithm has changed people’s ways of work and life. It offers the social media an opportunity to transform in Web 2.0, blurring the boundary between platform and publisher. Moreover, human editors are necessary for the operation of algorithm mechanism to maintain the algorithm neutrality. They co-created the ‘platisher’, which is open, diverse, and interactive in terms of organizational form and content production methods.



Camplan, R. (2016). Like it or Not, Facebook Is Now a Media Company. [Online] New York Times. Available at: [Accessed 24 Apr. 2018].

Dong, X. (2017). The Influence of Algorithmic Mechanism on Social Responsibility of Media. [Online] [Accessed 25 Apr. 2018].

Glick, J. (2014). Rise of the Platishers. [online] Recode. Available at:  [Accessed 23 Apr. 2018].

Jonathon, H. (2017). Algorithmic Culture and Cultural Intermediation. In: Cultural 11Intermediaries, 1st ed. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.201-219.

Peng, l. (2016). What should people do in the age of machines and algorithms. news and writing, 5 (12), p.27.
Penguin Intelligence. (2016). 2016 China New Media Trend Report. [Online] 199IT. Available at: [Accessed 24 Apr. 2018].

Striphas, T. (2015). Algorithmic culture. European Journal of Cultural Studies, [online] 18(4-5), pp.395-412. Available at:  [Accessed 24 Apr. 2018].

Sunstein, C. (2017). #Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, pp.124-125.

Zhang, y. (2016). Talking to yiming zhang. there is not only you and your opponent. [Online] 36 Kr. Available at: [Accessed 24 Apr. 2018].

Zou, J. and Ma, J. (2018). From “Network Neutrality” to “Algorithm Neutrality”: Idea Changes and Enlightenment. [online] Proceedings. Available at:  [Accessed 25 Apr. 2018].

Assessment 3

Bigger isn’t always better: The rise of Nano – influencers in social media as cultural intermediaries.

Name: Nathan Phannarai
SID: 460498906
Thursday 18.00 – 21.00

With a substantial amount of information thrown at the audience on social media concurrently, businesses and brands have now put additional effort to implement influencer marketing as a key strategy to attract and engage more with the audience. These influencers perform as “cultural intermediaries”. However, as the authenticity has become a significant aspect of generating a prominent level of engagement in social media, the partnership with influencers by businesses, brands and media has shifted toward the Nano-influencers rather than famous celebrities with a large number of followers on social media.

Photo by Erik Lucatero on Unsplash


Influencers as cultural intermediaries

The “Cultural Intermediaries” concept was introduced by Pierre Bourdieu, who describes the group of people working in the production and distribution of symbolic goods and services, also referred as “cultural product” (Bourdieu, 1984). The primary roles of cultural intermediaries, according to Bourdieu (1984) are to mediate between cultural productions and audience, to translate between low and high capital value, and to orchestrate between producers and consumers. Moreover, the cultural intermediaries also play a significant role on both production and consumption, “by managing and coordinating artistic production, gate-keeping, curating, cataloguing, editing, scheduling, distributing, marketing/advertising and retailing.” (Lee, 2012). With the rise of social media, a process in which content is created as cultural production has shifted towards collaborative and co-creative media across multiple digital platforms (Hutchinson, 2017). It also blurs the line between producers and consumers (Brun, 2008). Later Hutchinson applies Bourdieu’s theory to explore further in the aspect of social media and identify four key principle attributes in digital influencers, one of which is micro-influencers.

According to Hutchinson, the role of Influencers is to raise the cultural value and capital for the cultural products (2017). “Vanity metrics” are used to qualify persons as influencers, the higher number of followers on social media, the more persons are likely to be approached by agencies or brands as influencers. However, Hutchinson later adds “actionable metrics” to evaluate the effective influencing by examine into a deeper component like engagement rate.

Are we all influencers?

Advertisers and marketers tend to approach high profile celebrities, “mega-influencers” for products or services endorsement and testimonial. In this instance, those influencers perform as cultural intermediaries. These mega-influencers may be actors, musicians or well-known celebrities like Kendall Jenner or Kim Kardashian and, in general, have over a million followers across social media channels, which consequently can deliver a prominent level of reach. However, when looking at a broader spectrum, there are additional layers and levels of influencing rather than super stars celebrities.

 Image from

“Macro-influencers” tend to be lesser known celebrities, bloggers, journalists or Youtubers. The number of followers can range from 10,000 to 1 million followers. “Micro-influencers” are those with 10,000 followers or less, while “Nano–influencer” are those with around 1,000 followers. These are “everyday people” who passionate about a particular brand and usually post about their authentic experiences.

Macro or Nano-influencers?

Influencer marketing has been a practice in cultural production and in the creative industries for many years.  Within the current social media ecosystem as well as the “algorithmic culture” (Hutchinson, 2017), Should the trend of the digital influencing shift towards working collaboratively and partnership with Micro and Nano-Influencers as an alternative to Macro – influencers?

According to Facebook announcement in early 2018 on the algorithm change to prioritize “meaningful interaction” among friends and family will have a significant impact on businesses, brands and media.  The content from business and brands will be reduced and very limited. On the contrary, users are expected to see more content from their friends, family and someone close and related to you. (Zuckerberg, 2018).  The same trend goes for other social media channels like Instagram and twitter. As a result, businesses, brands and media need to revise the strategy to partner with “everyday people” – Nano-influencers.

While Mega and Macro-influencers can generate more reach than Micro and Nano-Influencers, the latter can offer many advantages over the former one.

Nano-Influencers can deliver a much higher level of engagement. According to a study (HelloSociety cited by Adweek, 2017) Nano-influencers can deliver 60% higher engagement rate than the average celebrities. Other survey from Digiday (2016) also shows that the Nano-Influencers can open an engagement up to 8.7 % of the audience, contrary to only 1.7 % for celebrities with over one million followers. This indicates that Nano-Influencers are more likely to gain more response when they post content on social media. Another research from Digiday (2016) also shows that engagement and conversion rates on the Instagram drop as the number of followers increases.

Nano-Influencers tend to gain more trust from the followers. As most Nano-Influencers are likely to be their friends and family or someone among their peers, the followers are more likely to trust the influencers’ recommendations. The study from Nelson (Nielsen, 2015) shows that 83% of the respondents trust the recommendations of friends and family, 83% also take action when recommended by friends and family therefore, peer-recommendation is the key in driving action. Nano-influencers are known to be knowledgeable in their field and can produce authentic and organic content based on their true experience while having time to interact with the audience. Many people see celebrities as sometimes not genuine their content is not authentic.


Image from Baadflowerdewbenion

The case study from Snickers “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign shows that how created content can affect the brand image when using the influencers. In 2012, Snickers used Katie Price, a model celebrity for the campaign in the UK. One day, she suddenly started tweeting about politics and macroeconomics, which is unusual as her regular posts were all about fashion related. The campaign gained all the attention even the BBC’s economics correspondent, Robert Peston, joined in on the conversation with Katie. Finally, Katie posted the image of herself holding Snickers with the caption “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry.”, which was the tagline Snickers used for the campaign. Although there was the sponsored hashtag in her final post, the campaign was not very well received. This is because the tweets were out of character for the model.

Nano-Influencers cost less than Macro-influencers. Although Nano-Influencers have a much less level of reach comparing other mega and Macro-influencers like celebrities due to a much lesser number of followers, these influencers are more affordable with prominent level of engagement and conversion rate which result in better ROI for the campaign. Instead of working with one or two Mega- influencers which can possibly drain your budget, brands can deploy the use of multiple Nano-influencers at the same time within the same amount of budget as Mega-influencers.


The example of utilizing Nano-influencers

Image from darlinginthecity

A Manhattan-based beauty and cosmetic start-up, Glossier used “regular women” as influencers to endorse the brand and product. Glossier invited 13 influencers for a 2-day trip to New York and ask them to post about the brand based on their experience. The content is very authentic.  Although the number of followers was only a thousand each, they all added up together a decent size audience. Social media engagement led to Glossier’s 600% growth between 2015 and 2016.



In general, the cultural intermediaries play a significant role in translate, facilitate and mediate cultural products to the target audience and, consequently, increase the economic value and capital of the cultural products including the relevant parties. At a micro level, utilizing influencers to perform as cultural intermediaries have a lot of factors to take into consideration. Although Nano-influencers seems to outweigh the Mega and Macro-influencers in the aspect of engagement which comes to the advantage in the current digital media ecosystem, the objective and the nature of the business, including the target audience should also be considered in selecting the strategy regarding influencers when planning a social media campaign.



Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction, a Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. London: Routledge.

Hutchinson, J. (2017). Participation in Media Organizations. Cultural Intermediaries: Audience Participation in Media Organisations.

Bruns, A. (2008). Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and beyond: From production to produsage. Peter Lang, 2008.

Lee, H.-K. (2012). Cultural consumers as ‘new cultural intermediaries’: manga scanlators. Arts Marketing: An International Journal, 2(2), 231-143.

Bragg, T. (2018). Influencer marketing: The updated guide for your business, Techwire Asia (accessed 22 Apr 2018)

Cook, K. (2018). 10 Influencer Marketing Campaigns to Inspire and Get You Started With Your Own, HubSpot (accessed 22 Apr 2018)

Zuckerberg, M (2018). Facebook (accessed 27 Apr 2018)


InfoLab, (2017). What are nano, micro, macro and mega influencers and why you should care (accessed 22 Apr 2018)

Chen, Y (2016) The rise of ‘micro-influencers’ on Instagram, DigiDay (accessed 22 Apr 2018)

Adweek, (2017). Micro-Influencers Are More Effective With Marketing Campaigns Than Highly Popular Accounts (accessed 22 Apr 2018)