Research Report

Assessment 3: 

RESEARCH REPORT

How do influencers impact my life?

BCM241 

Media Ethnographies

Erin Waugh

6086639 

Contents

Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………3

Findings………..……………………………………………………………………………………3

Background Sources……………………………………………………………………………….4

Analysis……………………………………………………………………………………………..5

Introduction 

The aim of my research was to analyse the impact that influencers have on my life. By using myself as a case study and utilising a mixed method approach, I was able to come to conclusions that offer insight into the relatively new industry and how it affects society.

Findings

Throughout my research I kept a field journal where I recorded video and written notes, as well as network maps. 

You can find my field journal on my blog here:

https://erinwaugh.home.blog/2020/11/05/field-journal-for-ethnographic-research/

The key ways that these influencers impacted my life were:

  • The way I ate and exercised
  • My creativity and my work ethic/goal of running my own business
  • My knowledge on new concepts, some of which were about the way I want to raise my children 

The key things I learnt from the research were that:

  • I consume their content way more frequently than I think is healthy
  • I need to be more conscious of my head space before consuming their content
  • I need to be more conscious of who I follow because they have huge potential to impact my life

Background Sources

Heaney, K., 2017. If Becoming Invested in Strangers’ Lives Is Wrong, I Don’t Want to Be Right. The Cut.

Geertz, C., 1973. Thick description: Toward an interpretive theory of culture. Turning points in qualitative research: Tying knots in a handkerchief3, pp.143-168.

Marshall, P.D., 2014. Persona studies: Mapping the proliferation of the public self. Journalism, 15(2), pp.153-170.

Marshall, P.D., Moore, C. and Barbour, K., 2015. Persona as method: exploring celebrity and the public self through persona studies. Celebrity studies, 6(3), pp.288-305.

Analysis

Before conducting this research, I knew I would have some impacts, however the extent of the results were truely surprising. Considering how long I have been consuming this type of content for, it is crazy to think that I never truely questioned its impact on me. The results of my research showed that I make fundamental life decisions (eg. diet) based off of these influencers.

The concept of fandom and celebrities is not new, however there are elements to social media influencing that we have never seen before and they deserve investigation. 

The first element is that influencers communicate with their audience constantly. All day, every day this audience is absorbing themselves in someone else’s life by simply opening an app on their phone. This constant stream of information and engagement results in their audience feeling like they can trust them like one of their friends (Heaney, 2017). 

The second is the illusion that these influencers are relatable. One of the marketing strategies behind this career is that they make their audience feel like they are just like one of them. The traditional Holly Wood celebrity has never felt relatable, fans can only dream of living their lives. Whereas, social media influencers are taken more literally and therefor have more potential to truely impact their audience day-to-day. While seemingly authentic and natural, these influencers and their management use an array of techniques to make and maintain their public profiles (Marshall et al., 2015).

Aside from the reasons that this industry is so powerful, we also need to look at the psychological reasons as to why the audience is so addicted to this style of content. As much as I like to think that I’m just gaining inspiration and motivation from these influencers, the truth is that most of the time throughout my research, it was underlying insecurities that were the reason I changed my behaviours based off of theirs. The more I doubted my appearance or my abilities, the more likely I was to do something that I saw them do. Capitalism profits off of our insecurities. We need to have concern for public’s mental health when we have a society comparing their reality to someone’s highlight real online.

My research shines light on the power of this growing industry and its potential to impact not only decision making but the mental health of our society. 

You can find my digital artefact blog post here:

https://erinwaugh.home.blog/2020/11/05/how-do-influencers-impact-my-life/

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