In a group tutorial with Theo, we each discussed our initial thoughts and ideas for the project, and what the main message we wanted to convey was. Theo reminded us that the core idea of the project must be strong, and used his work as an example here:
The primary message or idea behind this project was that people cannot spend any time away from their phones – they take them EVERYWHERE with them, even when they’re eating. So, the iPhork provides a solution to eating and scrolling simultaneously.
My dissertation topic focused on Instagram influencers paid partnerships or “ADs” with brands and how this can be a successful marketing tactic. However, I also discussed the issues that surround the marketing tactic when it comes to disclosure of the partnerships. I thought of integrating this idea of misconception and lack of disclosure into the criticality project. Instead of having to disclose that a post is paid or endorsed, the influencer would have to display how much they had been paid for the specific post or campaign. The main message that I want to be communicated is that there is a lack of disclosure and followers are naive to the amounts influencers are paid to promote certain products or services.
I discussed my idea with Theo and my peers and everyone agreed that the idea was strong enough to take forward, but that it needed more thought in terms of how I could display the amounts of endorsement the influencers are paid. Theo suggested a distort style filter whereby the more distorted the photo, the more that the influencer has been paid. I thought this was a really clever way of communicating something critically and so after the tutorial I decided to think of as many different ways I could display the payments as possible.
It was also really refreshing to hear my peers’ ideas at this stage. I find that I’m struggling a lot with communicating and discussing ideas with my peers at the moment, as usually we would spend days in the studio together and informally discuss and bounce ideas off each other. I really miss that!
Overall the tutorial was really helpful and I’m feeling optimistic about the project.
During my dissertation, I delved much deeper into the psychological effects on followers regarding influencer-brand partnership disclosure. The highlighted version is that in most cases, followers have more trust and respect for influencers that consistently disclose their brand partnerships over influencers that post without disclosing their partnerships. In 2017, Instagram introduced a standardised, built-in disclosure feature whereby influencers has easily disclose paid partnership posts as shown in the screenshot below.
This lead me to think about other information sources or even “warnings” throughout instagram. I thought about the sensitive content warning which blocks out posts that may involve sensitive content and thought that there may be potential within that idea of concealing the post and making sure the viewer is aware of a paid partnership before revealing the post.