To what extent is the relationship between beauty gurus and their viewers influenced and/or manipulated by the YouTubers?
ZIP this year has been a very enlightening journey, and definitely more interesting and personally beneficial than last year in my opinion. My question is centred on a topic that’s ingrained in my day-to-day life, and learning more about the topic has brought a new level of awareness during my interactions on Youtube. I was drawn to the topic because it was such a large and entertaining aspect of my life and finding a way to connect it to the English curriculum seemed like a worthwhile challenge. In attempting to do so, I stripped away the reason I had chosen the topic in the first place: the fun. So, I reeled back the unnecessary embellishments and focused on beauty gurus and their interactions with their viewers specifically.
During the inquiry, I’ve learned a lot about motives and what happens in the background during seemingly innocent interactions between viewers and media personalities. I’ve learned about some of the psychology behind certain actions, and the growing influence of social media in the marketing and business world. I know better than I previously did to not take everything at face value, even if it’s coming from your favourite YouTuber. I’m better able to analyze media with a critical and logical lens and identify the credibility and reliability of the source.
The answer to my aforementioned inquiry question has two main aspects that I focused on: the psychological effects on the viewer and how it may be exploited to benefit beauty gurus specifically. In my research, I focused predominantly on parasocial relationships and opinion leaders. Parasocial relationships are relationships that mirror real-life social interactions but are ultimately one-sided. Viewers of media personalities develop bonds and feelings associated with the person without ever meeting them, and this benefits beauty gurus because they gain loyal fans and followers that truly like the persona they present on social media. Opinion leaders have a similar following but as a result of expertise rather than social intimacy. Their knowledge, attractiveness, and trustworthiness entice people to listen to them and buy whatever they’re selling. Beauty gurus are opinion leaders in the beauty industry, and their expertise leads their viewers to trust their reviews of products and brands. Business and YouTubers themselves can cash in on this for good marketing and profits. As a whole, I learned that there are many factors that influence the relationships between beauty gurus and their viewers, and that said viewers should use their discretion and avoid taking everything at face value.
For my final learning artifact, I decided to make a YouTube video to share the information I’ve gathered in an interesting and engaging way. I wanted to use the same form of media as the work I’ve been researching, as I’ve had a lot of experience with it over the past few weeks. My curricular competencies were:
- Recognize and identify the role of personal, social, and cultural contexts, values, and perspectives in texts
The perspectives that I could use to analyze the relationships between beauty gurus and viewers are plentiful. I looked at financial and monetary benefits to the gurus, which overall is more of a societal lens on their motives and behaviours. The personal and psychological impact of this relationship on teh viewers was also one of my focuses, and I tied all of the information together to create a succinct video. Attached below is the bulk of my research.
- Respond to text in personal, creative, and critical ways
I analyzed YouTube videos, articles, studies, and other research materials in a critical manner. I then synthesized the information into a singular script and performed it in the form of a video. By doing so, I converted the information from words on a computer screen into an engaging narrative. I took a creative initiative in producing and editing the video to my satisfaction. Attached is a link to my planning and script for the video.
- Select and use appropriate features, forms, and genres according to audience, purpose, and message
The purpose of the video I created is to inform audiences about their interactions with beauty gurus on YouTube, and how said interactions impact and influence them in ways they don’t realize. Thus, I believed a YouTube video would be a good way to get the point across. It’s short and engaging, using visuals to convey meaning to the viewers. My audience is a class full of teenagers, and a YouTube video is an interactive way to give information without making the subject too tedious. Attached is my final product: the link to my video.
In conclusion, I’d say that ZIP this year was pretty successful. I learned a lot about my chosen topic and areas surrounding it, and brought a new level of awareness to myself (and hopefully to those who watch my video) that’ll be beneficial in the future. During my inquiry, I learned about some psychology that occurs on the viewer’s side of things, but I’d like to learn more about how to harness that to create a successful YouTube career. I think that manipulating viewers is morally wrong, but utilizing effective strategies to engage your audience and create a loyal following sounds like an interesting path of study. Obviously, this topic is more subjective and varies from audience to audience depending on what niche you’re in. Still, it seems like a cool path to follow after the findings of my inquiry.
This link leads to a paper done on the subject of beauty gurus by a student from the University of Antwerp. It discusses the concepts of “community spheres” based on the emotional connection of a beauty guru with their viewers and a “commercial sphere” that consists of YouTubers utilizing the platform for business ventures.
This link leads to another paper, this time for The Journal of Social Media in Society. It explores the connection between parasocial relationships and relationship building in relation to YouTubers and their viewers.
This site contains a lot of figures and evidence that I referenced for my video. It contains lots of information and statistics and is also a recently updated article.
This article on beauty gurus explains the connections between the gurus and an “opinion leader” status. It gives real-life examples of opinion leaders at work and explains how they use the status for monetary benefit.