As I am scrolling through my Instagram feed, I glance past yet another one of Kim Kardashian’s ads for a diet juice - a post she was likely paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for. As a top socialite and a massive figure on social media, ads such as these make up a large portion of her income.
Kardashian is only one of myriad social media influencers that earn majority of their living through an online presence. Social media influencers typically have a large social media following and are paid a large sum of money to post photos displaying their use of a product. Though the value and honesty of these individuals have been countlessly questioned, it hasalways been undeniable that the Instagram stars always found a way to connect with their fans while promoting products. But with the emergence of influencers that have been completely digitally created and curated, audiences have begun to ask what truly identifies an influencer as authentic.
|[Kim Kardashian is arguably one of the most influential stars on social media today.
Photo Courtesy: http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20160807000227]
To investigate how today’s generation, which especially relies on social media and networking, felt about social media influencers, I interviewed a few members of my school community.
Would you consider being a social media influencera “real” job?
Ji Sue Shin (Sophomore at Seoul International School): "Seeing that it brings in a steady income for successful influencers and is a form of marketing technique, I would say that it is a real job, but this seems to be a somewhat controversial opinion at times."
What exactly do you think the role of an influencer is?
Ji Sue Shin: "Most influencers simply upload photos with captions that are written by the sponsoring company on social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter. Most of the time, the sponsoring companies rely on myriad influencers in order to spread as many ads and awareness of their products as possible. I’ve seen a lot of ads from Sugar Bear Hair or Fashion Nova as I scroll through my Instagram feed."
How do you think social media influencers can use their platform to create bigger change in society?
Ji Sue Shin: "Sometimes, social media stars upload sponsored posts that advertise products that are really unhealthy to their audience’s physical or mental health. I think that some influencers, such as JameelaJamil, really show that influencers can use their fame to support a social cause or activism."
Miquela Sousa, a Brazilian American influencer active on Instagram, provides the perfect example of a good role model that influencers can be online. Claiming to be a social activist, andmusician, Sousa made her first appearance on Instagram on April 22, 2016. During her two and a half years on Instagram, Sousa has gathered a formidable fan base; she has 1.5 million followers on Instagram as of October 2018. In addition to her online presence, Sousa has a rather impressive resume of accomplishments. She has collaborated with Prada, has a net worth of 6 million dollars, and has a single that has reached #8 on real-life music charts. Most surprising of all, Miquelais notreal. She is a digital art project created to showcase the Instagram “it-girl” lifestyle, though the narrative behind her identity is that she is a robot.
|[Instagram is one of the most popular mediums of social media in the 21st century. PhotoCourtesy:http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20180201000893]
Yet, she has been able to voice her honest beliefs and forge friendships with other influencers/ “robots”, and raise awareness for social causes she supports. She responds to direct messages on social media from her fans when they request her for advice on subjects she feels passionate about. In a way, she has done far more and stayed far truer to herself than human influencers have. The fact that an influencer who does not even exist in true form has proved her identity to be at least somewhat authentic brings up an important question - what qualifies an influencer to be genuine? Is it that the lifestyle they show on their feeds reflects the real life they have offline? Or is it how close their online identity is to their true essence? Either way, one thing has become clear. How influencers define themselves and impact others has changed dramatically since the creation of social media.
Seoul International School
Rachel Lee email@example.com
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