Influencers or Brainwashers

Influencers or Brainwashers

The debate continues if social media influencers can be classified as positive influences on younger generations, or are they brainwashing them? 

The emergence of social media in the last 20 years has drastically changed people’s prospect on what they believe to be true, due to what they read online. A study conducted by the New York Times Consumer Insight Group investigated the motivations for individuals sharing content on social media platforms. They revealed that people desire to share valuable and entertaining content to others as it helps define them, enables them to grow and nourish relationships as well as emphasises the brands and causes they like to support.

The job role of a ‘social media influencer’ involves possessing a sizeable following on public platforms which is retained through regular publication and interaction with their followers. Social media influencers are frequently approached to market companies’ offerings such as a recent product launch or a new service available. I mean who doesn’t love a freebee?

Social media plays a key acquisitions in shaping our lives as it is current in every-day life. The average amount of time spent a day on social media by 16-43-year-olds was proven to be three hours a day. Many of these hours are spent scrolling through and watching their favourite social media influencers promoting what they believe to be the best products and services available.

A local social media influencer well known in Northern Ireland and beyond in countries like Australia and Dubai is Louise McDonnell, better known as ‘LMD’. LMD is a make-up artist by trade but also is a beauty influencer with a giant following of 115K on Instagram and 70K on Facebook. LMD shares all her beauty tips and tricks on a regular basis on her social media platforms, keeping her followers up to date by uploading content to her stories as well as posting pictures and videos to her social media grid.

But is LMD a positive influence on young people you ask? LMD can be seen as a role model as she built her dream job as a youngster into a successful business career and has now opened a salon in Magherafelt, launched her own beauty products range and collaborated with businesses such as BPerfect and Oh My Glam.

However, LMD acting as a public figure may not always be a positive influence on younger generations, some argue that she frames this fantasy world about how we should live, what luxuries we should have, creating false hope and expectations about reality. Young people will desire the things that she claims that are ‘must have items’ and this reflects negatively, brainwashing the younger generation that if LMD has it, they have to as well.

It has been proven that 70% of teens would trust social media influencers more than traditional celebrities. Teens are more likely to follow advice from influencers over conventional TV and sport celebrities, evidently indicating how influential these influencers can be on younger generations.

Joe Wicks better known as ‘The Body Coach’ is another social media influencer, he is renowned for his virtual PE classes that he held during the first lockdown back in March.  Joe is a massive public figure in the UK and has a following of nearly four million on Instagram. That many followers for just recording exercise classes in your living room? Where do I sign up?

Joe has been trying to keep the nation fit and active as well as keep spirits high during lockdown through his fitness videos posted on social media as well as on his Youtube channel. His work has not gone unnoticed as he recently obtained an OBE from the queen. In November 2020, Joe also raised a phenomenal £2 million for Children in Need.

Joe as a social media influencer is impacting young people in a positive way as he is encouraging behaviour that improves their overall mental and physical well-being. Thus, the debate that all social media influencers brainwash younger generations and promote negative messages is not totally correct. Joe Wicks is a prime example of an influencer who is using his social media platforms to promote a healthy and promising lifestyle to the wider public and therefore lessens the idea that all influencers are brainwashing young people with the messages they broadcast on their social media.

Despite what is viewed online by young people cannot always be monitored, influencers can determine what they upload, share, and promote on their social media platforms. Therefore, they must try and establish a balance between what they publicise is realistic to younger generations in comparison to what is ‘brainwashing’ and reflecting negative towards them.

Emily McCann is a final year BSc in Communication, Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn

The Evolution of Social Media and the Hospitality Industry

The Evolution of Social Media and the Hospitality Industry

I know what you are thinking, the food set in front of you at a restaurant and the information you read on your mobile phone have nothing in common, right? Wrong! 

Over the last ten years social media has become one of the main marketing strategies used by all business’, in particular the hospitality industry such as restaurants and cafés to engage with those first-name basis customers as well as those “I’ve never been before” customers.

The evolution of social media has been driven by human impulse, the need to communicate on a broader scale, as well as through the advancement of digital technology. Research conducted by Maryville University described the increase of social media presence as “a story about establishing and nurturing personal connections at scale.” I mean if you don’t have some form of social media by now, where have you been?

A study indicated that 47% of young people aged 17-21 text, tweet or post a picture whilst they eat out, something that was unheard of and seen as rude in the past. Nowadays, those type of consumers are seen to have the highest spending power raising the profiles of such restaurants and cafés through their online social media presence.

A Chronological History of Social Media

The online presence of the hospitality industry in the past was unheard of and not really seen as necessary. However, as the era of digitalisation surges the need for online interaction with consumers is a vital marketing strategy that cannot be underpinned.

Such business’ in the hospitality industry use social media platforms for promotional and awareness purposes in order to identify customer trends and often helps recognise the types of advertising  techniques are best, for example using online poles, video blogs etc.

For example, Dawsons Restaurant a local restaurant in my hometown of Castledawson creates online social media presence through content such as uploading images of dishes they produce, their menus, specials on offer as well as the availability of tables.

Dawsons Restaurant have altered their business’ promotional techniques to suit the digitalisation era that is rapidly growing and changing on a regular basis. Just look at these dreamy dishes below, who wouldn’t want to indulge?

Coronavirus or ‘Covid19’ as its more commonly known as is a topic of conversation we all cannot avoid these days, sick and tired of hearing about it? Yeah me too! But have you ever considered how the hospitality industry has adapted through this pandemic? With all aspects of the industry being shut down, it is exceedingly difficult to maintain customer interaction and satisfaction without providing the services that consumers desire the most.

However, many restaurants have cleverly recreated the way in which they deliver their services to their customers. Through the power of social media, restaurants in particular, have been able to promote a new type of service, a ‘take away’ menu. The same type of food is offered but only you eat it in the comfort of your own home.

Social media is the main marketing source to drive this type of service as people are able to share the posts uploaded by such restaurants and create a buzz around wanting to try different local menus that are available to them.

One of the main techniques used by the hospitality industry to drive business through the power of social media platforms is the added tool of location check-ins and company profile tags.

These type of promotional strategies are commonly associated with Facebook and Instagram and is one of the main features of both platforms. People simultaneously want to inform people of their location or whereabouts as it enhances a sense of status and engages their followers by updating them of what they are up to.

Moreover, do not be fooled. Social media has a dark side, negative content can arise from it as many critics are known to take to the internet when they want to voice their opinion about a certain dish that wasn’t to their taste buds or because of the customer service they received.

Social media platforms are one of the most effective marketing tools. However, it also is the main source of negative comments and reviews as it is available to the wider public and little to no barriers stopping them from writing negative reviews online.

Personally, I have been influenced through the power of social media. I admit that I am part of this society that loves to get the picture-perfect angle and the prettiest backdrop for that ‘perfect insta pic’, why you ask?

I believe that if restaurants and cafés go the extra mile to present food to a high standard and put in those added details like putting a raspberry in my French Martini cocktail. Then why should I not return the favour and promote them by capturing it and uploading it to my social media, tagging the location and their personal profile that ultimately entices others to visit.

Social media is a huge influence on people’s every-day life and often shapes their opinions and feelings based upon what they view online. Evidently social media can be both a positive and negative influence for the hospitality industry, but it inevitably depends on the type of content that is uploaded to the platforms and the way in which they are perceived.

If there’s anything that you have learnt from this short insight to the evolution of social media and the hospitality industry, is to be kind and support your local shops, bars, restaurants and cafes as they depend on you and your loyalty to support their business.

Because, supporting one another especially in these difficult times is only the right thing to do, don’t you think?

Emily McCann is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter and LinkedIn