By Michalah Matthews
Content Creators in IMC?
Influencers and content creators are an ever-growing demographic, directly influencing what it means to be in social media strategy. As COM majors, we are expected to have experience with social media along with some knowledge of how to curate posts and increase visibility of a brand. Social media influencers are not just a face for promotion of specific brands, but they also make up their own brand and have to work a platform to their advantage.
The Evolution of Social Media
Technology and social media platforms are constantly updating and becoming more innovative in terms of what they offer their consumers. App developers want to continue to have users interact with their app so they’ve even adopted features on their sites similar to other platforms to encourage their users to keep using it. Instagram started to develop and change several different functions of their app. They’ve added a shopping feature, Reels, and have allowed users to start posting “stories” to showcase snippets of their life. While these updates have made things easier for the consumer, they have had some pretty big impacts on content creators who rely on social media for their brand.
Making Apps Better…
Social media moguls have had to adapt to the constantly changing platforms. These adaptations have had positive and negative effects on their ability to promote their brands. One adaptation they’ve had to make is choosing the correct platform to advertise their brand. Not long ago, sites like Tumblr and YouTube were “on and poppin” making them the app that produced the most visibility for content creators. People no longer have the patience or time to read a blog or watch a 15-minute long review about a product. This is where the creation of Instagram comes in. Instagram started as a platform to simply post a photo allowing increased visibility through use of hashtags. This technology created a very straight-forward system benefiting users and creators alike, making it a positive impact for their brand, but this update didn’t seem to be enough for consumers.
With these changes, comes a challenge for those who depend on these apps to make a living. One of these updates that had a negative impact on content creators was the development of the algorithm for Instagram feeds. Technology has updated and allowed us to curate experiences for people based on the things they frequently look at online. For example, I love a good human hair wig so every now and then I see a banner ad for some stranger’s hair on my browser. That is a benefit to the curation of ads and content based on what an individual likes to see when they’re on the Internet. Although I view this innovation as beneficial, the curation of content for users is actually a content creator’s worst nightmare. In creating posts for an individual based on what they usually view, it erases the visibility influencers may have had prior to the update.
Content Creators Adaptation to Change
Views are one of the ways content creators receive money but if their posts are not being seen, it makes it hard for them to profit. While this is a negative to having social media as a main source of income, it has allowed them to be creative in finding ways to combat this update to the algorithm. According to Arturo & Ibáñez, who have studied and dissected the adaptability of content creators, one way content creators have been able to work against the decrease in visibility is collaborations with other influencers. Arturo and Ibáñez have given this technique the name, “cooperative algorithm hacking”(p. 2). If you have an Instagram and you happen to follow a few beauty or fashion influencers, this is a common occurrence among that community. They do a type of series that is composed of several different influencers of the same category or community. For example, not too long ago the Bratz dolls were trending due to the influx of people becoming interested in the Y2K theme. This resulted in a few influencers doing a Bratz doll challenge, where each influencer selected a doll to create a look for. In doing this, their followers not only saw the content of someone they liked seeing but they saw similar content from a different creator. This is an example of how content creators successfully adapt to the constant updates of social media platforms.
How does this relate to IMC students?
As IMC students, we are content creators ourselves! We’ll have to be just as innovative in our ability to adapt to the ever-changing rules of social media. Experience in breaking down the reports and analytics that our posts generate will be necessary, as well as the familiarity with navigating any changes to apps themselves in order to maintain a successful marque. Our ability to be adaptive and innovative are some of the many things labels are looking for in individuals to represent their brand.
Arturo, A., & Ibáñez, F. (2020). “You need at least one picture daily, if not, You’re dead”: Content creators and platform evolution in the social media ecology. Social Media + Society, 6(3) doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2056305120944624