Zoella, a famous social
media influencer who have a huge number of followers on her social media
networking. At the same time, she has 11.2 million and 2.6 million followers on
Instagram and Facebook respectively. She post various theme of videos such as
beauty, fashion and lifestyle online. The platform she normally post her videos
is on Youtube. The social media platforms to interact with her audiences are
Facebook and Instagram. She is such an influential social media users to share
about her opinion on her digital profile and influence her big bunch of fan
community. This is an example of successful influencer from United Kingdom.
Different countries have different social networking influencers accordingly.
This same goes to Malaysia. The strategy to develop their personal brand online
and the content which they shared online helps them to have a big amount of readers
with the same interest such as food, fashion, beauty, lifestyle, travel and so
In the era of advancement
technologies emerge, people can easily access to Internet. The communication of
one-way conversation through phone or message has altered to the culture of
collective information communication due to the development of internet (Labbaika, 2015). Internet leads to the platform of social media. Social
media has changed the way of communication between people which involved in two-way
communication in quicker pace, shorter time and in direct way.
Social media is a new
revolution from traditional marketing platform on the aspects of connection and
interactions between people due to the growth of technology (Soo, 2015). In the
aspects of marketing communication, the traditional promotion mix used in a
one-way communication of disseminating information transformed to social media
which involved promotional mix as an integrated marketing communications. With
the development of online communication on social media, a broader marketing
communication was enabled (Mangold & Faulds, 2009, as cited in Labbaika, 2015). “Increasing
accessibility to internet has motivated people to utilize more of social media,
particularly in marketing” (Labbaika, 2015, p. 5).
The communication culture
has been restructured with the expansion of social media which results in the
new online environment of creating opportunities to ordinary people to become
the content creator who distribute the content themselves. This is so called
social media based entrepreneurship (Vilander, 2017).
Everyone has the right
and available to have an account on the platform of social media. Every social
media profile represents a personal branding of himself. People can have their
own personal brand on the social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,
Youtube and the list goes on. One can market himself in person, on paper and
online. Branding ourselves using online in particular should checked what
appears online is consistent with what we want to market ourselves (Brooks
& Anumudu, 2016).
The focus of this study
is mainly on the platform of Facebook and Instagram. “As of the second quarter
of 2017, Facebook had 2 billion monthly active users” (Statista, 2017). The total number of daily
Instagram users is 400 million which last updated on 5th February
2017 (Aslam, 2017).
Facebook and Instagram are the top 3 out of top 15 most famous social
networking sites and app with updated recently on September 5, 2017 (Kallas, 2017). Both Facebook
and Instagram which are the examples of visual media platform can deliver
message in the form of images, videos and words to show the oriented
illustrations of the users (Johnson,
The social media is also
changed the way of disseminating information from the past which the brand
message is communicated by media to the customers to presently, the consumers
are the group of people who telling and sharing their personal or second-hand
stories to their own social media web (Booth & Matic, 2011).
According to Johnson (2017), “Personal branding is
the process by which an individual actively tries to manage others’ impressions
of their skills, abilities and experiences” (p. 1). There comes the career of
social media influencers who promote themselves as personal digital brand using
social media. “Personal branding is the practice of marketing oneself to
society” (Brooks &
Anumudu, 2015, as cited in Johnson, 2017). As mentioned by William
Arruda, personal brands should have three important qualities such as clarity,
consistency and constancy. It should be a channels or mechanism which highlight
all the strengths of an individual (“When branding gets personal”, 2010). As
mentioned by Brooks and Anumudu (2016), people with strong brands are clear
about what they good at, they know who they are. Their strong strengths made
them become outstanding, and a cut above of other people.
Referring to Peters
(1997) as cited in Lindahl & Ohlund (2013), individuals should own their
brand to show up among so many people out there in the digital era and be the
special one and able to compete in the competitive market. One must identify
what makes you different from your competitors. There are a lot of ways to
develop one’s personal brand, with the development of Internet, it leads to the
social media which allows individuals to perform their personal branding.
“Personal branding is
deployment of individuals’ identity narratives for career and employment
purposes” (Brooks & Anumudu, 2016, p. 24). Referring to Erikson, McAdams
(2008) as cited in Brooks & Anumudu (2016) identity development is defined
as how an individual presents himself through internalizing, evolving and integrating
The influence that assert
to the readers is created by a brand identity that involved the perceptions and
feelings towards the identity (Peters, 1997, as cited I Lindahl & Ohlund,
2013). The intention of an individual to express personal identity may
transformed to public and it became digitally enabled by the public (Brooks
& Anumudu, 2016).
Mentioned the way to have
a successful personal brand and create brand influence is to provide a good
quality of practical info, opinion and advice to the audience. A good
reputation is an outcome of the combination between their own expertise and the
“connectedness” which can attract the readers. The successful individuals will
deliver a continuous and ongoing delivery of value. Therefore, it is
significant to tailor the content shared to the needs of the readers (Harris
& Rae, 2011). It is also significant to manage the perceptions of the
individual efficiently and take a control on what people think about the
person. The image that portray on online social media channels become more and
more important because the time that spend online is increasing especially
presently in online, virtual and individual era (Lindahl & Ohlund, 2013).
The benefits of using
online brand promotion is using small amount of money to market one’s brand
most effectively (Belk, 2013 as cited in Brooks & Anumudu, 2016). The
content that personal branders allow the conversation of the followers such as
interaction, comments, ratings or any other forms of participation.
Who are social media influencers?
Social media influencers shape the attitude of their followers with the use of
social media. They signify independent third party bench markers in their own
way and influence their audiences using social media (Freberg1, Graham, McGaughey &
Freberg2, 2012). Due to enlargement of the community of
social media influencers who use social media platforms to communicate with
their followers indicate the substantial power that hold by them on the
perceptions towards brands and companies (Booth & Matic, 2011).
The influencers can help
the company in engaging with the targeting audience using different social
media channels. In another saying, they strengthened the brand awareness of the
company (Booth & Matic, 2011). The development of the Internet encouraging
people who have the same interests together which triggered the social
networking influencers to have an impactful voice in the current market (Booth
& Matic, 2011).
The company who used the
influencer power are utilised the brand strategy of allowing the conversation
which bring the impacts of changing perception and identify the expectations of
consumers and convey the clarity into the dialogue. It is very important
because it helps the company to arrange the strategy of marketing, advertising,
public relations and social media or any other ways to emphasize the core
character of the company through the relationships that build up between the
reliable relationships between company and the audience (Tsai, n.d., as cited
in Booth & Matic, 2011). According to Hall (2010) as cited in Booth &
Matic (2011), what make difference between the influencers is the amount of
their extended or indirect connections which is not only limited on the direct
“friends” “followers” (Booth & Matic, 2011).
Social media is a
platform for both influencers and audiences who are also known as followers to
build up relationships and allowing conversations between both parties (Booth & Matic, 2011).
This applied to social media influencers to work on their personal branding
online. They put on strategy to manage their social media. Lacy (2012) as cited in
Johnson (2017) stated improve one’s profile, be authentic with their
personal brand, interact with readers, keep a theme and have a constant
timeline to update their social media profile are the essential elements to
manage the visual social media platform on the purpose of personal branding. What
made people differ with each other is the way they portray their image as a
brand by projecting their uniqueness and personal values (Collins, 2012).
As social media users in
their own personal brand, with every post made on social media able to frame
the message which try to convey to the audiences. The framing of message will
bring effect on dissemination what they try to say. Through the social
interaction on social media, they have their own unique voice since the way
they construct and express their thoughts is different according to
individuals. The strategy that used in social communication is depend on what
they want to achieve. In order to have large impacts which is influence more
people and beyond the circle of their own friends, social media users need to
get really in-depth understanding of what encourages the readers to consume the
messages you wrote online and share it with more people. The point that all
social media users need to take note is no matter what post on social media
will give impression and perceptions that embedded on the mind of readers which
will give effect on the career because the future employers will track the
things the candidates’ profile to decide on their employability (Westerman, n.d.). With
the huge amount of followers on social media, social media influencers need to
take it serious with every voice spoken online.
The brand approach that
used by social media users to promote their own online personal brand is known
as the strategy on managing their social media (Westerman, n.d.). In building up a personal
branding, exploring own extraordinary attributes and flaws helps in effectively
portray the self and it also must maintain in a continual progress (Johnson, 2017). The
key attributes to obtain success on social media for personal branding are
authenticity, consistency and presence. The process of building up the personal
branding might cost a long time (Vilander, 2017). The time consumed to develop
an online personal brand is long and the management and maintenance of a
personal identity story as a brand is skilled (Brooks & Anumudu,
In general, the aim of
this research is to examine the effectiveness of social media in personal
branding among social media influencers.
The Problem Statement
The online activities are
increased which shifted from offline because of the rapid upsurge of Web 2.0.
This caused the control over our own information became more difficult as the
past. The engagement to develop personal brand should complied with effort. To
make one visible and stand out in a society is getting more complex, is
therefore should pay more attention in the importance of personal branding
As stated by Schawdel
(2009) as cited in Nieminen (2016), due to the development of Internet and
social media turned into so popular, the personal branding which is limited to
the top celebrities or politicians shifted to become part of everyone’s life.
Strategic planning of online personal branding on social media such as
Facebook, Instagram and so on should be done to achieve a strong base of
personal branding. (Nieminen, 2016).
According to Tufecki
(2008); and Labreque, Markos & Milne (2010); Stevens (2016) & Wetsch
(2012) as cited in Johnson
(2017) the possible effect in long-term of negative message conveyed
online and human resource departments will concern the candidates through
social media platforms are being unknown among young adults that will happen on
their future professions. Based on the study of Reunes (2013), young
professionals do not pay much concentration on the opportunity of personal
branding. This shows that knowledge of
personal branding online is still quite lacking. Therefore, the postings that
post online and self-disclosures on social networking sites should be aware
constantly. Inappropriate images, negative comments and the usage of alcohol or
drugs should be prohibited (Johnson, 2017).
Both of face-to-face
interactions and online communications do affect people’s insights of their own
personal brand. So, the importance of personal brand online should emphasized.
In a competitive market, it is quite hard to get a job although good grades and
lots of extracurricular activities the job candidates joined, because there are
many qualified employees-to-be among the marketplace (PwC, n.d. as cited in
Brooks & Anumudu, 2015). In order to impress the interviewers, the
uniqueness that the candidates should be start from personal branding which
pursue in person, on paper, and online. (Reference) According to Reunes (2013), the activities are
increasing alter from offline to online because of the development of
technology causes the control of own information is becoming more hard.
Personal branding has its roles in convey our own information and at the same
time, able to stand out in a society and visible to people. Social media is a
suitable platform for own branding because it can broaden the opportunities of
job prospects, partnerships and readers on the online work. (Reference)
It is true that what
person pursue do not equally match with the reality might causes bad effect on
his credibility towards their surroundings. The reason is they are not honest
and try to package themselves in the way of “glossy” but not showing the real
part of themselves. The information can be reached to the audiences in a high
speed. In the era of communication which can happened in very easy way and
spread criticism, any mistakes will be enlarge and reputation will be
destroyed. Furthermore, the social media will fasten the process of disseminating
message to the world (Reunes, 2013).
Internet works as a
platform of managing personal brands due to the Web 2.0 technology. If social
media platforms is known as a market while the brands are known by the users of
online media networking, they are engaging in the development of their own
personal brand by creating and promoting their brands online (Shaker & Hafiz, 2014).
The social media influencers have the huge amount of followers on their social
media platform. They can influence many people with their thoughts and ideas. The
virtual space created because of Web 2.0 technology allows users to update
their status in the form of images, text, videos, digital resumes and bio-data
or any user generated contents (Labrecque, Markos & Milne, 2011, as cited
in Shaker & Hafiz,
2014). “The key to being a successful influencer is to craft
high-quality, engaging content that’s built on a foundation of trust” (Rostam-Abadi, 2017). With
large numbers of fans, there comes the social responsibility to share the right
messages. This is because what they post online brings impact to their
followers to an extent. The expansion usage of social media initiates more
social media influencers. What they try
to show is the unique self and the brand identity that they try to pursue. The
way they manage their brand made the difference. The approach to build up their
personal brand can influence the brand image that embedded in the followers’
The impacts brought by
personal branding online could change the life of the social media influencer
in good way or bad. Self-disclosure on their branding profile brings positive
impacts and negative impacts. Positive impacts included brand recognition from
company while negative impacts consist their privacy is being violated.
The research regarding
branding companies and products are great amount available while personal
branding is still considered as a new topic as compare to the branding of
products. The deeper analysis of personal brand building on social media should
take into concern as using digital channels on creating online brand identities
is needed (Nieminen, 2016).
research questions of this study are as following:
What are the
factors of social media influencers using social media for personal branding?
What are the
strategies that Malaysian influencers on online personal branding?
What are the
impacts of building up personal brand on social media?
The research questions of this study are as following:
To identify the
factors of social media influencers using social media for personal branding.
To discover the
strategies that Malaysian influencers on online personal branding.
To explore the
impacts of building up the personal brand on social media.
1.4 Significance of Study
The significance of this
study on the uses of social media on personal branding is to contribute new
knowledge on the effectiveness of social media on personal branding among
social media influencers. The information related to Malaysian social media
influencers is quite lacking as compare to the influencers oversea. The
research currently in Malaysia which are currently available is less focused
from the angle of social media influencers like the factors of using social
media for personal branding, the strategies utilised on online personal
branding and the impacts of building up personal brand on social media as the objectives
of this research in which collecting the information from the influencers
themselves and knowing more from the influencers. There is more on the angle of
the corporate company such as how to choose the social media influencers as the
spokesperson of the company (Booth & Matic, 2011).
The outcome of this study
is also to create awareness among the public on the importance of personal
branding which may be brings benefits in the current or future career
development by looking at the success example of social media influencers. Understanding
the reasons why social media influencers make use of the platform of social
media to self-brand and build up their own career can help the public to know
much more on the importance of personal branding.
At the same time, the
significance of this study is to increase the knowledge of the public on the
importance of personal branding. In order to build up a strong base of personal
brand, individuals will work hard to develop one’s abilities and portray extraordinary
characteristics to stand out among the public. Online personal branding might
be quite hard as compared to offline personal branding. Portray oneself by
using only words and images to show people what you have. The commitment and
effort which put in to manage to social media profile and able to compete in a
competitive market is huge. With this study, we hope that we can bring new
insight to the public more on personal branding.
At the era of advancement
technologies, fully utilised the benefit of social media on personal branding
can help in outreach to more audiences which helps in career development. The
strategies which social media influencers applied in managing their own
personal brand can help in suggesting the public on the way to run their online
personal brand. The interest of this study is know more in-depth how social
media influencers managed to brand themselves and shifted from “nobodies” to
“somebodies”. The impact on using social media on personal branding can help
the audiences to foresee the benefits and challenges on it.
scope of study is accumulated in the areas of social media, branding and the
target audience is social media influencers. The study area of this research is
at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia which is one of the country of Southeast Asia. This
is because Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia. The events regarding to the
brand, fashion that will attend by the social media influencers are accumulated
at this city. The research will be conducted based on observations and in-depth
interview of six social media influencers which are mainly female. Based on my
observations, the number of female Malaysian influencers are exceeding the number
of male influencers because male influencers are rarely join in this industry
and the number is small.