Have you ever bought something just because you watched a YouTuber show how ‘great’ it is in a video? Or because you saw a post on Instagram about it?
We all seem to be a bit confused on whether or not we should trust the opinions of these internet strangers, with some people arguing we shouldn’t and others supporting their role in spreading new, innovative products (Moldovan et. al 2016).
Well, I am going to tell you why you should trust the views of opinion leaders such as YouTubers and why you shouldn’t trust the views of celebrity endorsers, like Kimmy K.
YouTubers are paid to endorse and review products. For many big name YouTubers including the likes of Zoella, Chloe Morello and PewDiePie, YouTube is their job (Berg 2016). They make a living through advertising and promoting products (Berg 2016).
Also, for many YouTubers, not every product they talk about is one they are getting paid to promote.
On the other hand, when a celebrity posts about a product on social media, they are most likely getting paid too (Streib 2009). However, Celebrities don’t make a living out of promoting products, they make a living by singing or acting or whatever it is they are famous for (Streib 2009). Promoting products may just be a way for them to earn money in between gigs.
So, the difference is, YouTubers rely on promoting products to make a living, celebrities don’t.
To explain this further, Lily Pebbles discusses the process of how YouTubers promote products in the following video: (skip to 11:10 to listen)
Lily explains that promoting a product she does not like may be detrimental to her channel. For her, and many others, her channel is a business. If she promotes a product that is dangerous or not to a high quality, her reputation will be damaged. Therefore, it is crucial that she ensures every product she promotes is effective or high quality. It is important for her business that she promotes products that her audience will enjoy.
Whereas, for celebrities, it is unlikely that their reputation will be tarnished for promoting a dodgy product. I’m sure you have all seen waist trainers being promoted all over Instagram, mainly by celebrities. Even though these products do nothing to slim your waist, celebrities get away with promoting them because their main income and business activity doesn’t revolve around promoting products (Streib 2009). As I said earlier, their purpose is to do whatever it is that got them famous in the first place.
I also mentioned earlier that YouTubers don’t get paid for every single product they promote. It’s also easy to tell when YouTubers have been paid to promote a product, it is regulation for YouTubers to put in the bio, or title of the video when there is a paid advertorial (Sweeney 2014).
So, take beauty leaders such as Lauren Curtis and Zoella, they regularly post ‘Favourite’ videos where they discuss the products that they have enjoyed using recently, most of which they aren’t paid to promote. If they aren’t paid to promote the products what other incentive is there? Well, simply the fact that they generally enjoyed using the product.
Numerous studies have shown how monetary incentives can negatively impact the opinions of consumers. If a product has been paid to be promoted by an opinion leader, consumers are less likely to want to buy it (Pongjit, C & Beise-Zee, R 2015 p. 720). A study by Mengze and Wojnicki (2014 p. 81) concluded that; “Opinion leaders may have developed a reputation of intrinsically motivated referrals… shielding them from the potential loss of social capital associated with extrinsic rewards”.
Berg, M 2016, ‘The Highest Paid Youtube Stars 2016: PewDiePie Remains No. 1 With $15 Million’, Forbes, 5 December, viewed 4 May 2017, <www.forbes.com/sites/maddieberg/2016/12/05/the-highest-paid-youtube-stars-2016-pewdiepie-remains-no-1-with-15-million/#789c16447713>
Instagram, Kardashian, K 2017, image, viewed 5 May 2017, <www.instagram.com/kimkardashian/>
Instagram, Ciara 2017, image, viewed 5 May 2017, <www.instagram.com/ciara/>
Mengze, S Wojnicki, A 2014, ‘What motivates opinion leaders to make social media network referrals?’, Journal of Advertising Research, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 81-91.
Moldovan, S Muller, E Richter, Y Yom-Tov, E 2016, ‘Opinion Leadership in Small Groups’, International Journal of Research in Marketing, viewed 4 May 2017, <www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167811615301695>
Pebbles, L 2017, My Thoughts on Clickbait, online video, 12 April, YouTube, viewed 4 May 2017, <www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Cn5c14gd4&t=819s>
Pongjit, C & Beise-Zee, R 2015, ‘The effects of word-of-mouth incentivization on consumer brand attitude’, Journal of Product & Brand Management, vol. 24, issue 7, pp. 720 – 735Streib, L 2009, ‘How Celebrities Make Their Millions’, Forbes, 6 March, viewed 4 May 2017, <www.forbes.com/2009/06/03/forbes-100-celebrity-09-earnings-paycheck-millions.html>
Sweeney, M 2014, ‘Vloggers must clearly tell fans when they’re getting paid by advertisers, ASA rules’, The Guardian, 26 November, viewed 4 May 2017, <www.theguardian.com/media/2014/nov/26/vloggers-must-tell-fans-paid-adverts-asa-rules>
VeronicaZoo 2016, image, viewed 5 May 2017, <www.veronicazoo.deviantart.com/art/Youtubers-466752359>
Zoella 2015, image, viewed 5 May 2017,<www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEY2cvkY1Ws&index=13&list=PLwmklcLO2MyCn5576CDwUlr54V-nHZFVG>