Industry Expert Insight: How Social Media Impacts Consumer Consciousness
The practice of subconscious marketing and the real-time connection to consumers via the use of social media and influencers isn’t a new or ground breaking practice.
It has been a considered approach to the digital communication of companies for a decade now. The process of doing so has not just increased sales for some brands but also for some advertisers, leveraging the density of an influencer’s community has also allowed for the shaping of consumer thoughts, attitudes and behaviour – sometimes without you (the social consumer) even being aware of it.
The practice of social marketing will most likely always be a part of the mediascape in some capacity, however, in recent times, what I have seen – not just as an agent, but as a participant of social media – is that society and brands are craving more authenticity.
Genuineness equals legitimacy and without it people/consumers start to disconnect and lose interest. People (by nature) need connection; they want to align and be inspired by people not just for what they are wearing, but for what they stand for and fight for as their inner and outer truth. Social-consumers have shorter attention spans and are greedier than ever before. Therefore, we have become more shrewd with who we want to spend their precious "scroll time" with.
Gone are the days where glossy perfection is "aspiring" and plastered over every bus stop and taxi – people want relatability, talkability and connectability – they want something that connects them to the bigger picture in the most authentic way possible. I feel, the biggest example of collective-consciousness towards a more authentic world can be seen in what I like to describe as "The Turtle Effect," which brought about the peak of social activism and conscious consumerism.
At the start of 2018, a sudden shift in consciousness was formed after witnessing a distressing video of a turtle having a plastic straw removed from its nostril.
I remember (after seeing this video) feeling guilty, sickened and asking myself "What can I do to fix this?" All of a sudden, I started to see the good in the people I was following on social media, who also had seen that video.
As a result, environmental activists rose to the forefront of social marketing, and they used their "social power" to humanise social responsibility offering up tips on how to make small changes in your life to eliminate single use plastic – and people listened (namely because they too were scarred by that video).
It became cool to care for the world which had a trickle on effect consumeristically with some brand’s listening to public outcries and changing their inclusion of single-use plastic in products. That turtle (in that video) became a poster child for the damage single use plastic was having on our environment!
The reason this shift in human behaviour completely re-contextualised our society was down to Neuroscience and the subliminal power and importance of social media and influencers to advocate change.
Research suggests that when your subcionscious mind recognises a way to complete a goal, it will produce a positive emotive feeling in accordance with that goal. Thus, in-turn, triggering a decision to reach said goal fulfilment. This too goes for the opposite – the prevention of a goal fulfilment whereby a negative emotion is created to avoid said behaviour.
The video of the turtle enraged and caused a lot of mental scarring to people (I can still feel myself flinching as they dig into the poor turtles nose with pliers) which in turn enabled behaviour-change to come about. If it wasn't for social media, we could quite literally be swimming in a (plastic) sea of destruction.
Whilst the single-use plastic is still – and for a while – an issue, it is great to see social marketing and influencers being used for good, to activate social change and people given a voice to stand out and promote a cause that isn’t just topical, but that can save our futures.
Here are a few environmental influencers you can follow on Instagram to help stay aware of environmental issues.
Kelly Eastwood (@thelondonchatter)
Kelly Eastwood was one of London’s first professional bloggers and (in my opinion), the face of conscious consumerism. Having grown up in Kenya, she saw the devastating affects that fishing and poaching can have on the animals that grew up (basically) in her backyard.
View this post on Instagram
We are amidst the largest period of species extinction in the last 60 million years... In the last 50 years alone, the populations of all mammals, birds, reptiles and fish have fallen by an average of 60%! “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make...” @janegoodallinst. Every damn day should be #EarthDay... #ExtinctionIsForever #RothschildGiraffe #Kellyphant #FightforYourPlanet #NoPlanetB
As a consequence, Kelly has been a huge advocate and campaigner for the banning of single use plastic via the conduit of her blog and Instagram, and used her influence for good to educate her audience on ways they can live a fashioniable but sustainable life.
Kelly’s also raised over £35, 000 for charities via her "buy to give" collaborations, donating the proceeds to protecting Watamu Turtles and Elephants in Kenya. Now this is what I am talking about not just being influential – but using influence for species-saving good!
Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg)
This Swedish activist has achieved more than I ever will in my lifetime, in a single year of her 16-year-old life (and I’m not complaining about it).
Labelled as the voice of Generation Z, Greta has campaigned to bring awareness climate change via her initiation of the School strike for climate movement.
Niomi Smart (@niomismart)
Niomi Smart rose to notoriety via her YouTube channel. She was one of the original YouTuber generation and amassed a huge following over her career.
Nowadays, Niomi focuses on educating her audience on the best in sustainable-fashion and how to live a cleaner, more conscious life. There is no ego to Niomi – she is whole-hearted and makes sustainable living connectable.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below. Photo credit: Shutterstock.
Lucy Pilz is the Head of Premier Artists, an international talent agency based in London, UK that represents the likes of Victoria Magrath (@inthefrow), Niomi Smart (@niomismart) and Elle McNamara (@bambidoesbeauty).