Insights from a Social Media Beauty Influencer

Michelle, of @allthingsbeautymichelles on Instagram, is a 20-year-old beauty blogger from Sydney, Australia. She is currently a full-time university student, works casually, and is a beauty influencer on Instagram, WordPress, and YouTube. She has kindly agreed to provide an insight into the life of a Social Media Beauty Influencer.

It is clear Michelle has dedicated a substantial amount of time and effort into maintaining a professional-looking beauty account on Instagram.13393068_1702643193329888_1338657446_n.jpg

She says that each photo takes different amounts of time to create, with a single product shot taking only a few minutes to capture and edit, and a group photo of one or more products taking up to ten minutes including editing. Because of her work, Michelle has been approached by companies to try or feature their products.
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She doesn’t currently charge companies for her posts, but has been exploited in the past by a well-known cosmetics company, who used her photo with out giving her credit. This is an issue, especially for small-to-medium beauty accounts, as companies ignorantly believe they are entitled to use photos they come across without adhering to the Instagram etiquette of giving credit for the use of a photo. Michelle says as long as she is always awarded credit for her work, she is happy for others to use her images. Michelle enjoys the glamorous opportunities she has had as a beauty blogger/ Instagrammer, such as the events and free products! She feels blessed to be have been able to attend two Bloggers United Australia events, and she has received products to review from multiple companies.

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As a beauty blogger, Michelle has had the opportunity to meet new friends and interact with companies. This photo was taken at an event hosted by Bloggers United Australia.

Michelle has not encountered many negative aspects as a beauty blogger/ Instagrammer. She said that this begun as a hobby and as soon as it makes her unhappy she will stop. However, she has had some anxiety and loss of sleep due to product photo’s not working. For example, when she was sent a skin care range that she was asked to review on her Instagram, the products they cast shadows when she took pictures, which did not live up to the quality/standard of work she maintains on her page.

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There is a degree of quality and professionalism expected of beauty influencers, especially on Instagram.

I would like to thank Michelle for her first-hand insight and contribution to this post.

 

All images in this post were given to me by the photographer and used with their permission.

 

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Living on Social Media

On Android’s alone, ninety-three million selfies are taken each day. 93 MILLION! And people were checking their phones 100 BILLION times per day. On Apple devices, such as my iPhone 5, there is an automatically generated Selfies folder in the Photos’ App. Embarrassingly, mine currently has 1,058 photos. My only saving grace is that they are not all of my selfies… some are of my dog. Latest data estimates that millennial’s, such as myself, will spend approximately 54 hours per year taking selfies. This equates to more than 25,000 selfies during their lifetime.

When studying the media, we often reflect on how we look at the media, and more inwardly, how we look at ourselves in the media. In doing so, for this particular topic, we have been looking at social media and the phenomena of the quantified self. Basically, this means talking about selfies. In particular, how selfies have been linked to three specific cultural shifts.

The first shift is online media’s ability to determine status (Evans, 2015). In his book, Status Anxiety, Alain de Botton (2005) explains this shift as ‘one’s value and importance in the eyes of the world.’ The second shift is the rise of the ‘attention economy’ (Goldhaber, 1997; cited in Evans, 2015). On the internet, attention in the new currency, and it is a scares and precious resource (Evans, 2015). The third shift, and arguable the most prevalent in 2016, is the increasing shift in celebrity culture (Evans, 2015). As explained by Joshua Gamson, in his article, The Unwatched Life Is Not Worth Living: The Elevation of the Ordinary in Celebrity Culture, (2011: 1062) “celebrity culture is increasingly populated by unexceptional people who have become famous and by stars who have been made ordinary”.

The age of social media has given rise to the ‘microcelebrity’ – celebrities who obtain their fame on social media platforms (Evans, 2015). Ordinary people are sharing their lives, hobbies and talents online, and becoming incredibly wealthy and famous as a result. These people are using celebrity strategies to build a profile, reach out to their followers and fans, and have a willingness to reveal personal information about themselves (Evans, 2015).

From my personal experience, the social media platforms where I find this most prevalent are those like YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat.

Most people of my generation and younger, namely Gen Y and Gen X, spend more time watching YouTube then TV. Since launching ten years ago, YouTube has acquired over a billion users, who watch hundreds of millions of hours and generate billions of views. The platform has allowed anyone with a camera to post content, resulting in an immeasurable variety of content to be created, uploaded and watched. Some of the most successful of that content revolve around gaming, DIY, education, beauty, skits, and general entertainment. YouTube has created household names for our generation, including Jenna Marbles, Tyler Oakly, Pewdiepie, the Vlog Brothers, Smosh, and Jaclyn Hill, who all found or consolidated their fame on YouTube.

As well as creating content, these internet celebrities ‘skillfully juggles Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to build a deeply loyal connection with fans’. This is, arguably, the distinct difference between mainstream and internet celebrities; celebrities who found their fame on social media are often (but not always) more connected with their fans, as they realise the fan’s importance to their success.

Instagram fame is, arguably, less about creative ability, but just as formulated. When researching this topic, and searching Instagram Fame on Google, there are numerous results for How To Quickly Get Popular On Instagram and Cracking the Instagram algorithm for fame. There is even a wikiHow on gaining Instagram Fame. There are fewer articles about it’s impact on the younger social media generation.

In relation to this topic, the phenomena of the ‘quantified self’ was also discussed. The Quantified Self movement is ‘self knowledge through numbers’ (Evans, 2015). Although this was discussed in relation to personal health and medical tracking, I think it has relevance in our culture of social media. Success and self-worth are becoming increasingly intertwined with our social media numbers; the number of followers, the number of views, and the number of likes.

I, myself, am an aspiring YouTuber (shameless plug) and experience a lot of these things. I spend a lot of time filming, editing, uploading and promoting the content for my growing YouTube channel and linked social media accounts, such as my Instagram account. Social media has created new careers and opportunities, not only for people who create the platforms, but for the people who appear on the platforms. I found this topic very interesting, and so relevant in 2016, that this could quite possibly be the topic I pursue for my research project.

 

References:

de Botton, A 2005, Status Anxiety, Penguin UK, United Kingdom.

Evans, N 2016, ‘Looking at Ourselves: Social Media and the Quantified Self’, lecture, UOW, presented 16 March, 2016.

 

My Reflections on Undertaking a Digital Research Project

I had decided to make YouTube the focus of my Digital Research Project. Media practices and audience experiences are very spatial in nature, and I believed that YouTube could be used to demonstrate this. As an aspiring YouTuber, and loyal user, I was interested in researching and presenting the links between the YouTube platform and media, audiences, and places.

After spending the last weeks of the Spring semester researching, collaborating, filming, editing, editing, and more editing, my Digital Research Project has finally been uploaded. Please check it out here. If you would like to see the whole interview I conducted with Dan, from Danger Dan Vlogs, then please also make sure to check that out here. Now the project has been completed, and published, it has come time to reflect on the experience.

University life can be especially overwhelming this time of year, with numerous assignments and exams, and especially if you are also working four days a week. I found myself in this situation, which lead to me missing the deadline for my last assignment, and handing it in late. After making this mistake once, I was determined to not let it happen again. This was an important aspect of the project management element of this exercise. Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques in order to meet or exceed expectations, in the most effective and efficient manner.

This project was quite different to any I had undertaken before. There was a great degree of freedom attached to this task; it was an academic assignment, set by the university, but designed by the student. I was able to pick my own topic, conduct my own research, and present it in a way that I believed to be most suitable. Because of the almost-overwhelming number of directions I could take this task, it required a great deal of planning and researching, which is an essential part of project management.

The first problem I encountered with this task was that I knew I needed to begin, I just hadn’t found the right idea; I hadn’t found the inspiration to start my creative project. This can be a problem when working with a deadline. As Catherine McIntyre-Velky (principle at Adept Creative Project Management, and Director of Operations at Go East Design in St Paul, MN) notes, “the idea doesn’t come when you need it. It arrives when it arrives.

Another concern I had with this creative project was the fact that we were to demonstrate we could collaborate with other people. In the early stages of the project, this was a very daunting thought. I prefer to work by myself, especially on creative projects. There are many challenges and complications that can arise when working with other people, especially in a creative environment. In his book, Creative, Efficient, and Effective Project Management (2013), Ralph L. Kliem summarises these challenges, particularly on page 197.

However, when I met Dan, who is a fellow BCM240 student, and vlogger, and began discussing the project, our collaboration began quite naturally. I really enjoyed working with Dan, and am very grateful for his help with my project. I found the whole experience extremely valuable, both as a student, and a vlogger.

When editing my video, I really struggled to cut it any further, without damaging the integrity of the whole video. Unfortunately, I couldn’t submit a video that was over an hour long, so there was plenty of research that I had found that didn’t make the final cut. If you would like to read more on this topic, then check out the following links:

The final challenge I came across when completing this project was one that I had not anticipated. After finishing my video, and uploading it to YouTube, I was told that my video had been blocked due to a copyright claim. I had edited in snippets from other popular videos on YouTube as supporting evidence in my video, which I could no longer use. This is another important lesson I have learnt from the project management element of this exercise – to be prepared for the unexpected.

Thank you for joining me on my journey this semester. Stay tuned for what I anticipate to be another year of blogging in 2016. If you can’t wait that long, then be sure to stop by my YouTube channel in the mean time.

Filming and Editing… Finally.

This week I have been busily working away on my Digital Research Project. After spending the last few weeks researching, I have finally progressed. I have progressed to the filming and editing stage of the project, which has been equally as time-consuming.

During the week, I met with fellow BCM240 student, YouTuber, and Vlogger, Dan. Dan has his own YouTube channel, which you can check out here. We caught up to discuss the project and swap ideas. I used one of the meetings as an opportunity to interview Dan, for the video submission of my project. We sat for over half an hour and filmed. With that amount of footage, there were plenty of outtakes and bloopers. If you would like to watch our recording session, and get a sneak peak at what will feature in my project, check out Dan’s vlog. If you would like to see the entire session, I will be publishing the footage when I publish my project.

After I had the chance to watch the footage back, and to begin to edit, I asked Dan to watch what I had put together so far, and get his feedback. I have really enjoyed this collaboration component of the assignment, and it has been a really valuable experience to work with Dan.

For the rest of the week, I have continued researching, filming and editing so that I am ready to submit the project on Monday.

My Research Progress

Over the last week I have continued brainstorming and researching for my Digital Research Project. I have been keeping a notepad handy to jot down any bright ideas that spring to mind. I have also gone so far as to pull over whilst driving to make voice memos on my phone, whenever inspiration strikes.

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I remain confident in my decision to focus this project on YouTube. So far I have enjoyed this aspect of the project; I believe I have come up with some great ideas and found some really useful resources.

What I want to research and demonstrate through this task is the evolution of sharing and viewing content. Content on YouTube can be filmed and watched virtually by anyone, from anywhere. YouTube is able to transcend physical spatial barriers. Videos can be shared instantaneously and can be discussed and commented upon in real time. Because of this, YouTube is variable; it is interactive; it is adaptable. YouTube is not just a medium for audiences to watch video content, it is a platform for communities to be formed.

For the sake of research, I have searched for, and watched, countless YouTube videos and scoured the Internet for relevant articles.

I have found articles online comparing traditional and new media. A sample includes:

I found a great article on the A.V. Club, YouTube stars create communities, not fans, discussing the impact of YouTube and its creators, and the communities it has enabled to form.

I have found also found countless videos supporting the points I wish to make in my own video for the presentation of my DRP. These include:

As well as conducting my own research, I have been in contact with another BCM240 student, Dan. Dan makes vlog-style videos for YouTube, on his channel, Danger Dan Vlogs. He has generously agreed to collaborate with me on my research project, so that we can share our ideas, discuss our thoughts and film together. Over the last few days I have come up with a few questions that I want to ask Dan when we meet to discuss face-to-face. The types of questions I have designed include:

  • How would you describe the YouTube space?
    • As a media form?
    • In terms of audience experience?
  • Why is it that some things are successful on YouTube but they wouldn’t be on other media platforms?
  • How do you believe YouTube’s audience experience differs to that of traditional media audiences?
  • What benefits do new media forms, such as YouTube, offer its audience?
  • Where do your video’s view come from? Where is your audience located?
  • What are your thoughts on the YouTube audience as a collective?
  • What are the advantages/ disadvantages of making YouTube content?
  • Why do you believe producers of traditional media, such as TV shows, are now making content specifically for YouTube?

I have also forwarded these to Dan, so he can have a read and start thinking. I have come up with these questions as prompts for our discussion, so that I can keep the discussion on track and collect some relevant information from Dan for my project.

Please stay tuned for the next update on my progress of my Digital Research Project.

An Introduction to the Digital Research Project

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be undertaking a Digital Research Project, in which I will be required to “design, implement and evaluate a digital storytelling project”. I will be using my blog, as well as YouTube, to present a research-based creative project on media, audiences and places. In order to do this, I will be presenting relevant research in this area, collaborating with others, and exploring different mediums.

I have decided to make YouTube the focus of my Digital Research Project. Media practices and audience experiences are very spatial in nature, and I believe that YouTube can be used to demonstrate this. As an aspiring YouTuber, and loyal user, I am interested in researching and presenting the links between the YouTube platform and media, audiences, and places.

As a relatively new, and ever-evolving medium, YouTube is a different way to watch and share video content. YouTube is a portable medium – it’s content can be filmed, and watched, anywhere and at anytime. All that is needed to shoot video content is a camera. Smartphones have enabled anyone to film, upload, and watch content, almost instantaneously. These videos can be accessed on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers, enabling them to be watched wherever and whenever the viewer wishes. They can then be shared and discussed on various other social media platforms.

As well as reading pre-existing research on this topic, I will be conducting my own field work. In order to collect primary research on this topic, I hope to work with fellow YouTubers and Vloggers to discuss their first-hand experience with YouTube, it’s spatiality, and its connection with media, audiences, and places.

So there is my introduction to the Digital Research Project, and the next BCM240 adventure. I will be documenting my process throughout this task here on my blog, posting updates about my thoughts, ideas, research, and my progress, so, watch this space.

The Debate of Law and Ethics in Pubic Spaces

Private spaces are different from public spaces in terms of access and control; public spaces are managed by balancing access and control factors (Bowles, 2015). When in public spaces, people are expected to behave and act in a certain way, based on societies expectations and laws.

In the news recently, a concerning legalisation has caught the attention of many, and started a discussion surrounding what is legal and what is ethical in public spaces. Recently, courts in America, such as those in Washington, Massachusetts and Texas, have ruled that ‘upskirt’ photos are not violating the law. Massachusetts’ highest court has ruled that secretly photographing underneath a person’s clothing is not an illegal practice. In one such case, the high court ruled that the practice is not a violation of the law, because the women being photographed while riding public transport were not nude, nor partially nude. In a similar circumstance, a court in Texas has upheld the ‘constitutional right’ of citizens to photograph strangers as an ‘essential component of freedom of speech’, even if the pictures are taken for the purpose of sexual gratification.

To me, and many other rational-thinking people on the Internet, ‘upskirting’ seems to be a serious form of harassment and a violation of privacy. However, the laws surrounding ‘upskirting’, especially in America, are vague at best. So, are Australian’s protected from this form of harassment? The Australian Privacy Act states that if an individual’s identity is apparent, or can be reasonably ascertained from a photograph or video images, then the use and disclosure of that image is covered by the Privacy Act. But what if these explicit images do not violate a person’s identity? Does this law not apply?

Have you heard any of the news about the legalisation of ‘upskirting’? Do you think that the victims of such harassment should be better supported by the law? Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments down below.

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Reference List

Bowles, K 2015 BCM240 Lecture 6: Public Televisions and Personal Devices: 2015 Lecture Slides 31st July 2015, UOW, Semester 1, 2015.