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The Role of a Social Media Influencer

By Lydia Tefera, Graduate Student

Social media beauty influencersWhen thinking about all the different things that the cosmetic industry does to get their consumers to buy their products, the first thing that came to mind was social media. For instance, cosmetic companies have begun to strategically use social media influencers or  YouTubers to promote and review their products out to their hundreds and millions of followers.

Personally, I am an avid beauty guru watcher. I am subscribed to a plethora of YouTube channels and I have my favorites that I trust and love watching. So when they go on their channel and talk about/review a product I will likely base my opinion off their thoughts when thinking about if I actually want to buy that item.

This may sound silly but that's just what I do, and what I’m sure plenty of others do as well. For example, there was this new eye shadow palette that had been released and I was debating whether or not I should buy it. A couple days went by and one of my favorite beauty influencers Jaclyn Hill mentioned on her Snapchat how amazing and versatile the palette was, and after watching her snap I was sold. I went onto the website and bought the palette. The beauty industry feeds off of people like me, and it has become evident that a social media influencer can really impact the way cosmetics are bought and sold. I also find this to be a perfect example of the ways in which social media is increasingly becoming more monetized as Nancy K. Baym mentions in her article.

Social media influencers also play a strong role at shaping and forming conversations regarding social issues in the beauty community such as race and inclusion. Especially when it comes to creating products that cater to all people. If we take the example of Tarte Cosmetics, who recently received a lot of backlash due to their exclusive foundation shade range. Ellen Scott mentions in this Metro article that beauty influencers “refused to feature the brand on their channels” and “called on the brand to do better.” All in all, I think that social media influencers within the beauty community can both help (and hurt) companies and consumers, and create a genuine dialogue about issues that are relevant to their audience.