Social Retail

Through the rise of social media, entrepreneurship has taken many routes. Online trends have allowed average users to become viral sensations. And those trendsetters have since furthered their careers through paid promotions and creating their own companies in order to further expand their brands. Traditional routes have slowly perished, and no longer require the lengthy time and exertion necessary in order to make money. Instead, popularity is now used to measure your success. And that popularity, in return, has created a lucrative marketing business for the advertising industry.

When famous people first joined Instagram there were two things that distinguished them from your average user, the amount of followers and verification. Once those were determined, over time, it set a layout for who we know as influencers in today’s society. In 2019 Kylie Jenner made an average of 1.2 million per post with about 140 million followers. Currently, Jenner has 158 million followers with her average payment per post well over a million dollars, but this is just one example out of the myriad of fellow celebrities and influencers who have rounded up wealth and fame through social media.

Paid promotion from major brands has contributed to the wealth of such influencers. With the increase of their number, social media has become a lucrative marketing tool for such brands to expand products to a wider audience (the influencers’ followers), hence the monetary correlation between cost per post and followers. Following after these major brands, smaller brands, now household names, such as Fashion Nova, PrettyLittleThing, Revolve, and I.Am.Gia have invested money in not only their own business, but into the pockets of who can advertise their clothes. As a result of this investment, you can’t scroll through social media without seeing these “brand ambassadors” wear, get photographed in, and post these designers and products. As far as marketing brilliance goes, this is an unprecedented exposure to creators and designers everywhere.

Previously, our era of advertisement consisted of models, wearing designer garments. That was the routine of things, and that in itself went hand in hand with the fact that people were more active and physical and moving within their own society. These advertisements were made up of billboards, magazines (which have predominantly gone online), and commercials. The shift of money marketing and products have gone from ‘how can I grab a buyers attention’ to which celebrity can influence buyers. This method has become both genius and laziness at the same time. Products outside of fashion all used the same marketing tools, however they as well have to adapt to the times. We now see the same influencers advertising the clothes, advertising dietary products, waist trainers, restaurants, hotels, and jets.

Not to take away from any ad versions, but in the same era of the physical ads, many brands were able to create a strong distinction and recognition of their brand through quality commercials, slogans, or catchy theme songs. When you pin that up against an influencer with liposuction telling you how to lose weight, you lose trust and credibility for your product. This “hypocrisy” within this new age of advertising has been a major fault in more people wanting to actually try a product. But this hasn’t stopped businesses from finding more influencers and gaining more popularity. And as far as new and upcoming businesses go, this method of ambassadors and Instagram influence has proven to be successful for many businesses before them so why stop now. And even if you found one, what other method could you use that is more successful than Forbes list celebrities flaunting your product. Even with this shift in advertising, Instagram has still remained something free and personal garnering billions in revenue. According to Hootsuite statistics, about 1 billion people use Instagram every month and an average of 500 million people use Instagram’s stories everyday. And I believe everyone can agree, Instagram holds a significant spot in our daily schedules. Before Instagram, social media surrounded around chat rooms and typing posts. And through the repetitive social medias that were purely based on how we grammatically expressed ourselves, there hasn’t been a social media platform which was exclusively image-based, thus what has been accomplished through Instagram couldn’t have been possible before it.

Hootsuite statistics also states that an average of 200 million users visit at least one business profile daily, and 75.3% of businesses will use Instagram in 2020. A major change of Instagram to benefit businesses, as well as benefiting themselves more is having sponsored posts on the timeline. So even if you don’t follow these businesses, you still see their ad on a nation scale, just as you would see your friends posts. And smaller businesses in the area, whether themselves as the brand or product selling business can also put their photos down other people’s timelines. Business owners can set their Instagram in a mode that tracks statistics and encourages ways to promote their own businesses. And most recently, although likes used to a major part of social media culture. Instagram has been the first to test out the app without the broadcasting how many likes a person has. They claim the removal of likes is to make the brand more wholesome and genuine, as social media has turned into a popularity frenzy. However, if you can’t track how many likes a business has, and their credibility, than those business would have to pay more to be sure that their sponsored posts reaches a wide audience.

A major example of how noteable Instagram ads have changed can be tracked through the rise of Fashion Nova. Fashion Nova is a fast fashion business that has been heard, bought and name dropped by the holy grails of celebs. They have an active partnership with The Shaderoom, a very popular blog site, as well as instagram account. Fashion Nova’s Founder and Chief Executive Richard Saghian has transformed the way we see and advertise fast fashion through Instagram. The brand creates about 600 to 900 styles weekly. Fashion Nova has also used their brand to collab with Cardi B, be pictured in music videos, and be featured in rap songs. But, they are known to use explosive controversies as well, in order to further their brand. One of the biggest controversies has been the quick copy cats of Kim Kardashian’s outfits. More specifically, 24 hours after Kim has worn them publicly. This has opened theories between the possible exchange between influencer and company, in order to create more publicity and make more money. And if someone of high fame like Kim is involved, what other influencers have used promotion and controversy for money as well. Just in 2018, Fashion Nova has gained over 400 million net sales, and has only increased since then. And following in their footsteps more and more brands have solely used Instagram and ambassadors to represent their brands, also creating successful businesses.

How does this tie into our society? I believe this change doesn’t mean much for our society. In some ways, this has been the easiest it’s ever been to make money. We’re able to promote our lives without actually changing our lives, considering its just “promotion”, and it allows our generation to move at our own pace. However anything solely surrounding the internet can never be a good thing, because we are humans, not machines. And this means, at some point we are going to need to integrate skills used online into physical and moving means of successfully owning and creating a business. Not to mention, there are many skills one can adapt to and successfully live their life doing, that doesn’t require social media. As far as the advertising industry specifically, they also need to do their role in intriguing an audience through different avenues in order to balance what used to be, in this technological world. I believe negative effects will come first before we can acknowledge the changes that need to be done.