Since the development of Web 2.0, a new industry has been created which has generated numerous jobs. These jobs involved the development and creation of new software, platforms and apps that gave life to the social media era. With the cultural significance of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube, people are now making full time careers out of living their lives and developing their passions on these social media platforms. As an avid social media user and aspiring beauty influencer on YouTube and Instagram I am interested in researching this emerging profession and the opportunities it has to offer. As ‘YouTuber’ and ‘Instagrammer’ are now part- or full-time occupations, I have conducted research into the reality of the quality of life of social media beauty influencers, or ‘gurus’, and I will be presenting my findings through a blog series.
A beauty influencer is a person who, through their social media presence, has the power to affect the purchase decisions of others because of their knowledge of makeup and beauty-related topics. The term ‘Beauty Guru’ is often used to describe YouTubers and Instagrammers who have extensive knowledge about makeup and beauty-related products and application techniques (Rainnie, 2015). The term is often used to describe those who may or may not have received formal training (Rainnie, 2015).
Vlogging is a contraction of the term ‘video blogging’, and ‘vloggers’ are people who actively participate in vlogging (Rainnie, 2015). Vloggers film themselves and share their ‘vlogs’ across Web 2.0 platforms, most commonly uploading to the social media site, YouTube (O’Reilly, 2005; cited in Rainnie, 2015). Vloggers who operate predominantly on YouTube are often titled ‘YouTubers’ (Rainnie, 2015). Influencers who operate predominantly on Instagram will be referred to as ‘Instagrammers’. I have chosen to make YouTube and Instagram the focus of my social media research for a number of reasons: my familiarity with the platforms, their strength as social media platforms for beauty influencers, and the fact that many influencers who have YouTube channels also have Instagram accounts, and vise versa.
The YouTube beauty gurus I will discussing in this series have accumulated a significant following. For the purpose of this blog series, the term ‘significant’ when used to describe a YouTube following will refer to a YouTuber who has accumulated a following greater than 1,000,000 subscribers. YouTube has over one billion users, and as of April, 2016, there are only two thousand channels with seven-figure subscriber counts. This is an incredible achievement and a milestone that is acknowledged by the YouTube organisation and commemorated by awarding the YouTuber with a Gold Play Button.
Instagram also hosts numerous beauty-related accounts, that have helped a number of influences achieve ‘Instafame’, ‘the condition of having a relatively great number of followers on the app’ (Markwick, 2015, p.137).
If you too are interested in the glamorous opportunities and the unexpected reality of this emerging industry, then make sure to check out the other blog posts in this series.
Rainnie, E 2015, ‘Persona and Parataxis: YouTube and the Rise of the Beauty Guru’, Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies (Honours), University of Wollongong, Wollongong.
Marwick, A. E. 2015, ‘Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy’, Public Culture, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 137-160.