Social Uncertainty

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Emily Williams Major Project




How can fast fashion brands sustain their marketing strategies and address the potential threat of changing consumer attitudes towards social media?

Emily Elizabeth Williams 17123387 | ADM 6005 I Major Project | BA (Hons) Fashion Business and Promotion Birmingham City University




This study investigates how fast fashion brands can sustain their social media marketing strategy and address the potential threat of changing consumer attitudes towards social media, therefore explores new marketing tactics to adapt to an age where social media detoxing is gaining popularity and consumer distrust is prevalent. To conduct the study, existing literature was underpinned by primary research, including electronic surveys, semi structured interviews and a focus group. The analysis of the research indicates that while indicating some positive aspects, social media is causing an overall negative effect on the well-being of society as negative impacts such as addiction, mental health issues and unproductivity have been linked by some sources to social media. Furthermore, the research suggests that the use of consumer

data to curate personalised advertisements and implement persuasive design into social networking platforms is having a negative impact on consumer attitudes towards social media; these factors have been determined as being the driving forces of a ‘digital detoxing’ trend. Collectively, evidence indicates that this change in consumer behaviour poses a threat to the marketing strategy and content engagement of fast fashion brands who rely on social media marketing to push their brand identity. Additional threats could also stem from the ‘Time Well Spent’ movement that social networking sites are integrating into their products in an attempt to increase the value of the time social media users spend on the platform, resulting in the modification of algorithms which is directly impacting marketing engagement. Therefore, this paper concludes that fast fashion brands should implement meaningful and empowering content into their marketing strategy to humanise the brand and connect with consumers through the art of conversation, resulting in increased engagement on social media platforms and ‘Time Well Spent’ for their audience.




INTRODUCTION Abstract Glossary List of tables List of figures Introduction





SOC 5 8 9 9 10

THE TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY 1.1. The Rise of the Social Selling Model 1.2. Social Media in the Fashion Industry 1.3. The Problem 1.4. Do We Need a Design Renaissance?

20 22 24 26



THE EFFECT ON THE CONSUMER 2.1. Social Media Addiction 2.2. Detoxing, Dieting, or Neither? 2.3. The Key Drivers 2.4. The Present & The Future


30 34 36 38



THE EFFECT ON THE MARKETING INDUSTRY 3.1. The Current Climate of Social Media Marketing 3.2. Is Social Media Marketing at Risk? 3.3. Is There a Solution?



42 44 46

Conclusion Recommendations

52 56


APPENDICES Appendix I Appendix II Appendix III Appendix IV Appendix V Appendix VI Appendix VII Appendix VIII


70 75 76 78 79 84 91 110

Appendix IX Appendix X Appendix XI Appendix XII Appendix XIII

117 118 119 121 124


GLOSSARY OF TERMS BLM - Black Lives Matter CHT - Center for Humane Technology DWC - Digital Wellness Collective FOMO - Fear of missing out PLT - Pretty Little Thing ROI - Return on investment STLL - Screen Time Lifeline


LIST OF TABLES Table 1. Participants of the focus group study


Table 2. Primary research interviewees


Table 3. Example of the qualitative data coding analysis system inspired by Burnard’s (2008) study. Results show the common denominators that appeared in respondent’s answers when asked ‘how do you feel about social media?


Table 4. Qualitative data analysis coding of the brand representative interviews


Table 5. Qualitative data analysis coding of the digital wellness representative interviews


Table 6. Qualitative data analysis coding of the focus group


LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. A model of the Two Step Flow Theory. Source: [Accessed 01/12/2020]


Figure 2. Bar chart demonstrating generation Z’s response to the question ‘would you consider yourself to be ‘addicted’ to social media?’ See Appendix IX


Figure 3. Bar chart demonstrating generation Z’s response to the question ‘what is your daily average screen time on your phone?’ See Appendix IX


Figure 4. Infographic demonstrating the percentage of a brand’s followers who engage with social media content based on the social media platform. Source: [Accessed 04/12/2020]


Figure 5. Bar chart demonstrating the percentage of consumers who are likely to engage with social media marketing posts based on the content. Source: [Accessed 05/12/2020]



Technology has become an integral part into the functioning of our daily lives. However, questions and concerns have begun to arise around whether the obsession with our smartphones has gone too far and remains sustainable for human well-being, particularly the sustainability of social media. Former Google Design Ethicist, Tristan Harris, believes that social media has begun the destruction of modern society, a theory supported by other industry experts in the documentary The Social Dilemma (2020). Research suggests that the effects of intense social media usage has had a negative effect on consumers (Alcott et al, 2020; Mintel, 2019) while Mintel has reported an increase in ‘social media detoxing’ (2019), indicating a growing awareness among consumers of these effects. Social Bakers have also reported a decrease in user engagement across Instagram and Facebook this year (2020). It is imperative that brands recognise a change in trends and amend their strategy to remain relevant in their industry, therefore, the justification for this study is to highlight the potential threat of changing consumer attitudes towards social media to fast fashion brands who rely on social media marketing. The findings of the study will outline the potential problem that fast fashion brands are facing and demonstrate why these brands should modify their current marketing strategy and explore new marketing methods that aim to better engage consumers with the brand and its marketing content.






The research aim: To investigate why current fast fashion marketing strategies may not be sustainable and how brands should change tactic in an age where social media detoxing is gaining popularity and consumer uncertainty is prevalent. 11.

IN OBJECTIVES To evaluate user behaviours in conjunction with social media algorithms: Are we addicted to social media? To discuss whether social media’s current stature is destructive to its users and society: Is this due to data collecting technologies? To identify whether social media is having an adverse effect on the wellbeing of society and if so, is this driving the ‘digital detox’ trend? To determine whether fast fashion marketing strategies are at risk due to a decrease in social media engagement and increase in consumer distrust and advertisement blockers. To explore alternative online marketing strategies that may sustain brands’ position in the industry and become practised marketing tactics in the future.


NTRO INTRODUCTION The research question; Social uncertainty: How can fast fashion brands sustain their marketing strategies and address the potential threat of changing consumer attitudes towards social media. The methodology will demonstrate the relevant primary resources used in the study that prompt the research question and both support and challenge the thesis of the study. It shall also rationalise the appropriate quantitative and qualitative research methods selected and clarify how the data has been applied to answer the research objectives. Chapter one, The Technology Industry, examines the social media business model and brand marketing strategies to investigate whether the current algorithms of these social media platforms influence their user’s behaviour. The exploration into the structure of social media will introduce industry experts, Tristan Harris and Jaron Lanier, ex Silicon Valley representatives who argue against the system in which social media currently operates.

the results are driving a ‘social detoxing’ trend. The research will summarise the consumer mindset towards social media, alongside the prediction of future consumer trends. Chapter three, The Effect on the Marketing Industry, analyses the sustainability of the current social media marketing strategy and explores alternative methods and social media content concepts. The research aims to critically analyse the opinions of social media marketers with opposing secondary research and primary data.

Chapter two, The Effect on the Consumer, will investigate the effect social media has on society and whether


FO METHODOLOGY Quantitative and qualitative primary research methods were used to adopt a mixed method approach. This allows for the existing secondary research that informs the topic to be underpinned with statistical and informed precision to provide critically analysed evidence for a conclusion through corroboration of findings (Johnson, 2004). To begin the research process, two questionnaires were formulated with the intent to gather quantitative data from social media users. Saunders (2019) states that online, closed question surveys obtain a low contamination rate, particularly for this research question as there is a reduced risk for an uninformed response, and access to a large sample size. Therefore, a link to a SurveyMonkey questionnaire was posted across a range of social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and LinkedIn; each with a different age demographic to scope for a varied response based on user age. Contrary to Saunders’ research which states there is a risk that the intended audience will not be reached through the distribution of a questionnaire online (2019), utilising social media alone to reach respondents provided minor limitations due to the nature of the study which aimed to targeted social media users, therefore, the corresponding platforms were idilic for reaching the intended audience. SurveyMonkey was selected as the questionnaire platform due to its sleek, user friendly design and ease of analysing results from a large


sample. Questionnaire one saw 160 responses exploring user’s perceptions of social media and opinion on social media’s effect on society and wellbeing. Questionnaire two saw 86 responses which explored user’s perception of social media marketing and its effectiveness on themselves as individuals. To determine whether the language was reader friendly, resulting in accurate results, a pilot study was conducted with three individuals whose feedback influenced the finalisation of the survey, such as rephrasing a question to be better understood, resulting in more accurate results. The questionnaires were effective as they created a basis for the rest of the primary research planning. The data suggested that generation Z were most affected by social media, therefore seven, mixed gendered participants aged 18-24 were sourced, and a focus group meeting was arranged for the 19th November 2020 via Zoom. The study took on a semi structured approach. An agenda of set questions was formulated based off the survey results and research objectives, but left room for follow up questions to be asked based on the respondent’s answers, allowing for a conversational approach to further probe relevant topics (Clifford et al, 2016). This section of the research explored a change in attitude towards social media and how users currently use, and intend to use social media in the future, allowing the prediction of future trends.


























Table 1. Participants of the focus group study.


METHODOLOGY Individual semi structured interviews were arranged with existing connections, social media representatives for fast fashion brands, Pretty Little Thing and Hidden Fashion, and creative communications agency, Gung Ho, all of whom were contacted via Instagram or email correspondence. Each company represents a differing approach to social media marketing. The brand representatives gave insight into the success of their social media strategy and predicted future trends. To further gain insight and strengthen the research that answers the thesis, an interview with a marketing academic was carried out to explore future trends in social media marketing, alongside investigation into social media


user behaviour with two ‘digital wellness’ representatives with differing opinions. To collect interviewee data, each verbal interview and the focus group was recorded and transcribed. Due to the obstacle of work schedules, remaining interviews were conducted over an email conversation. The analysis of qualitative data was inspired by a study by Burnard (2008) which adopts an analytical and thematic approach, resulting in the categorisation and systematic coding of data to identify common denominators amongst the data collected from all interview transcripts. The following chapters further investigate the study’s findings:







Zoe McCarthy

Social Media & Influencer Outreach Manager

Hidden Fashion



Lucy Chetwynd

Social Media Assistant

Pretty Little Thing



Amelia Hobson

Creative & Content Executive

Gung Ho



Laura Arrowsmith

Marketing Academic

Birmingham City University



Dr. Sophie Bowles

Director in Research Development

Digital Wellness Collective



Christina Malecka

Mental Health Councillor & Social Media Lifecoach

Screen Time Lifeline


Table 2. Primary research interviewees.




Dependent on use Reduces in person contact Mental health Destructive free speech Addictive Comparison of lives Bullying Negative content Increases unproductivity Creates social pressures Concerns for the future Polarisation


Use for a cause Entertainment Connecting with friends and family Social support Freedom of expression Informative Evokes conversation Useful


Fake news Influencer culture



Positive aspects Negative aspects Destructive Impartial Harmful content Unrealistic representation of people’s lives Time waster Lost intent Saturated with advertisements Manipulation tool Social competition Intrusive Audience reach Positive effects on businesses


Pandemic influence


Fear of missing out Requires control Need for validation Detoxing

Table 3. Example of the qualitative data coding analysis system inspired by Burnard’s (2008) study. Results show the common denominators that appeared in respondent’s answers when asked ‘how do you feel about social media?


What is social media’s effect on the fashion sector?



N ONE 20.


1.1 THE RISE OF THE SOCIAL SELLING MODEL Historically, networked media existed in the form of weblogs, list-servers and email services following on from the invention of the World Wide Web in 1991, however, in the turn of the new millennium, these

online services evolved into an interactive, multi-channel social experience, birthing the new global infrastructure of social media (Dijck, 2013). From social media’s original intention to be an information sharing and

conversation platform, social media has rapidly become “the twenty-first century’s most dominant marketplace” (Rishi, 2017).

This research is significant as it demonstrates the fast-paced growth of the industry and how social media has been recognised as an essential marketing tool. As of October 2020, 4.14 billion people use social media, equating to 53% of the global population (Data Reportal), the most popular platforms being Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Snapchat (Mintel, 2020). Rawat states that traditional marketing methods shifted from customer-centric to community-centric content, suggesting the adoption of a ‘participant advertisement’ business model where consumers are given the power to decide what marketing content they wish to interact with through the utilisation of social media platforms; a contrasting strategy to the ‘push’ model of traditional marketing (2018), however, Carmicheal argues that social media can be both a push and pull method of marketing depending on the brand’s social media content (2019). Nevertheless, research suggests that the social media marketing model is

ever changing with the rapid growth of the industry. The theory of the participant advertisement model benefits businesses as social media marketing holds minimum expense in comparison to traditional marketing, increases revenues (Panda, 2017), streamlines consumer research and establishes virtual relationships with consumers (Patil, 2016). Social media platform, Facebook, has since implemented the ‘Advertising Model’ into their business strategy, a method which markets network traffic and consumer data collected through surveillance capitalism to businesses who wish to market on their platform through targeted advertisements (Panda, 2017; Blumenthal, 2018). This analysis further examines the shift between social media becoming a conversation platform, and emerging into a marketing phenomenon, while explaining how brands have easily adapted to a social media marketing strategy through the use of consumer data and marketed ad space on social networking sites.


NE 22.



The rapid growth of the social media movement revealed a new era of highly demanding, digitally connected consumers in comparison to the consumer who once adopted trends at a much slower pace; a direct result from increased access to trends through social media platforms (Bendoni, 2017). Bendoni’s research states that fashion brands are utilising network algorithms built through the collection of user data to offer more personalised advertisements to their audience (2017), however, the research could be perceived as biased as it only offers an account of the positive aspects of social media marketing. Furthermore, Social Media Manager for Hidden Fashion, Zoe McCarthy, believes that social media algorithms do not work as an advantage for niche brands and in fact works against them, evidenced by engagement statistics in comparison to larger brands (2020), a theory backed

by a TalkRetail report which states that large brands are being rewarded by Instagram for their loyal following and are seeing little to no impact on their engagement (n.d.). Kotras’ study on the utilisation of algorithms for marketing claims that targeted advertisements have been criticised by Big Data and are viewed to be the “manipulation of consumers” (2020). Although this study also forms a bias towards the negative use of data, collectively the research suggests that social media algorithms may only operate in favour of household name brands and the social platforms themselves, whilst disadvantaging smaller brands’ marketing strategies and impacting consumer behaviour. Nevertheless, McCarthy emphasises Hidden Fashion’s dependence on social media marketing due to it being cost effective to collaborate with influencers (2020). Similarly, MarketLine states Boohoo introduced social media

influencers into their marketing method which stands as a key factor to driving growth (2018); the 1948 Two-step Flow theory explains how marketing content is more likely to reach individual consumers through the mediation of opinion leaders (Dahl, 2017). Though a significant analysis of social media marketing’s current climate in the fashion industry, sources reviewed fail to determine the sustainability of the influencer marketing strategy besides McCarthy, who believes that influencing is the future of social media marketing (2020), however Marketing Academic, Laura Arrowsmith, believes the ‘stereotypical influencer will become less influential’ suggesting a future shift in marketing methods.

Opinion leader


Figure 1. A model of the Two Step Flow Theory.


Individuals in social contact with an opinion leader


1.3 THE PROBLEM As discussed, data collection offers a wealth of personalised advertisement opportunities for businesses marketing on social media (Sigrist, 2013), however, for social networking sites to sell the certainty of a successful advertising campaign to businesses, they have to make predictions that require a lot of data (Zuboff, 2020). Computer Scientist, Jaron Lanier claims that consumer attention has become the product of the social media business model (2018) a theory that has been echoed by Firth, who states that data has “signified a change in the relationship between individuals and companies” with consumers adopting a product status (2013), and Harris, who claims that social networking sites are competing to keep consumers on their app for as long as possible, directly effecting the likes of democracy and human connections (2020). Although each source has a negative opinion on the collecting of data, this research significantly suggests an agreement amongst industry experts that surveillance capitalism has become a destructive societal issue. Dr Sophie Bowles from the Digital Wellness Collective believes the Attention Economy Model, a model that capitalises off the volunteering of consumer’s time, is a driving force in the social media business model (2020; Kane, 2019). Furthermore, Harris



explains how apps obtain consumer attention through ‘growth hacking’, a discipline that builds psychological manipulation into technology with the goal to change consumer behaviour, an unbiased theory as Harris himself studied this field (2020). Research by W.I.R.E recognises the problem, however, makes a counter argument against data collection technologies stating that it is a fundamental factor to economic growth, quality of life and innovative thinking (2013), suggesting that data collection is vital for the future of societal growth. Rishi indicates that consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about

the collection of their digital footprint, however, further contradicts that statement by claiming that consumers do not worry about exchanging their personal information in order to reap the benefits of social media (2017). This study may suggest that consumers have a growing awareness of the collection of their data, however, as Greenfield states, are “straightforwardly trading privacy for convenience” (2017). Additionally, key players of the technology industry are continuing to emphasise the destructive effect that the use of data could have on society.

ONE E 25.


In 2013, W.I.R.E stated that Big Data has powerful capabilities such as predicting the outbreak of a flu epidemic and that data will affect our futures on a minor scale, however Harris, the co-founder of Center for Humane Technology (CHT) argues that the attention economy model is degrading human capacity to solve threats such as the Covid-19 pandemic (CHT, 2020). Harris also claimed in a 2017 TedTalk that the manipulation of our attention will only get worse because it is profitable. Although both sources have contradicting bias towards the use of data, W.I.R.E believes life beyond objectivity may push humans towards the


idea of Enlightenment (2013), an opinion shared by Harris who states the acknowledgement of the issue will form the self-aware Enlightenment era (2017). CHT’s ‘Time Well Spent’ movement focuses on the intentional use of our devices (Newton, 2019), a concept that has since been implemented into the business models of Facebook with the prioritisation of friends’ posts and alteration of advertisement watch time (Constine 2018), Instagram’s “you’re all caught up” checkmark (2018) and Apple’s screen time dashboard and app limit controls (Gartenberg, 2018).


1.4 DO WE NEED A DESIGN RENAISSANCE? Despite these positive implementations, a common theme identified from the focus group conducted for the benefit of this study saw that respondents felt their news feeds were saturated with more marketing content than friend’s content. Respondent one believes app limits do not work as he would ignore

the notification, an opinion agreed with by respondent three who found herself clicking the “remind me in 15 minutes” option repeatedly (2020). Furthermore, only 8% of respondents from a Deloitte survey state they use the app limit feature on their phone (2019). Similarly to CHT, the Digital Wellness Collective (DWC) aims to educate users to embody and empower control over their technology, offering tools to businesses who want to implement digital wellness into the lives of their employees due to increased unproductivity (Bowles, 2020) and Screen-time Life Line (STLL) who offers tools that help people resist the addictive nature of technology (Malecka, 2020). The motives behind each organisation indicate an increasing awareness of the issue in both professional and personal aspects of people’s lives, prompting Harris to call for the questioning of the advertising business model (2017). Lanier disagrees with the movement, stating that the only solution is the deletion of social media apps to take back control of data (2018), however, Sigrist believes this to be “neither realistic nor judicious”, yet also agrees change must occur as consumer awareness will cause a change in behaviour, therefore producing inaccurate data (2013). Furthermore, Malecka believes social media marketers are not the people to give consumers a better online experience, however, critiques her own opinion due to her leftist view on capitalism (2020). Although industry experts collectively cannot reach a suitable solution, each agrees that the advertising model cannot be sustained currently in the process of creating a better online experience for society, as Harris claims there needs to be a “design renaissance to orchestrate empowering timelines” (2017).


How has increased social media use affected the consumer?







2.1 SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION The gratification theory proposes why humans are attracted to social networking platforms; social media “emphasises the importance of the individual”; people naturally seek discussion and interaction, therefore the importance is gratified through online social connection (Raacke, 2008 cited in Meier, 2013), a theory echoed by Malecka who states that humans have a Palaeolithic underlying need for approval (2020) and Greenfield who explains the psychology of the theory to the reward circuits of our brain “lighting up” when we experience digital connection, resulting in a dopamine surge (2018). Collectively, the research strengthens the psychological manipulation theory previously discussed in this study as ‘growth hacking’. Mental health and behavioural scientist experts are being hired in the technology industry to build persuasive design into their platforms, the discipline that studies how humans can think and act (Lieber, 2018). Toscano explains how ‘positive intermittent reinforcement’ is built into apps in the form of the ‘pull down and refresh’ feature, a method that

Harris likens to playing on the slot machines in Las Vegas (2020). Other methods of persuasive design include Facebook scheduling notifications to a time where it predicts the stimulus of one’s attention, Twitter delaying sending notifications whilst a user is on the app to maintain attention for longer (Freed 2018, cited in Lieber, 2018) and Snapchat giving teenagers an incentive to use their app daily in order to maintain a ‘snap streak’ (Bloomberg Technology, 2018), causing psychologists to name excessive social media use as a behavioural addiction (Dreifus, 2017). Facebook, however, released a statement in response to The Social Dilemma claiming that they build their product to create value, not addiction, which has resulted in a decrease of 50 million hours per day of Facebook screen time (Facebook, 2020). This further suggests that social media networking sites have received criticism surrounding persuasive design and have modified their platforms to address the issue, however, Maclecka believes there to be intent behind their strategy for attention (2020). ’Social media addiction’ has

become a subjective term among critics. Lanier argues that addiction is a result of optimised newsfeeds (2018) whilst British MP’s have stated that social media addiction should be considered a disease (Waterson, 2019). Malecka has a differing opinion, claiming that the term ‘addiction’ is disempowering and places the responsibility on the individual over companies and governments, however, recognises it as a compulsion as a result of manipulation (2020). Furthermore, results from a study conducted for this paper states that 61.29% of generation Z respondents personally felt addicted to social media with an average screen time of 3-5 hours. Although experts cannot come to a united conclusion as to whether excessive social media use is an addiction, the evidence can be interpreted to state that consumers themselves personally feel compelled and are starting to show signs of awareness towards their social media usage, indicating a change in attitude towards social media, and that the data collected to enforce positive intermittent reinforcement is having an adverse effect on society.


SURVE 100%










0% YES



Figure 2. Bar chart demonstrating generation Z’s response to the question ‘would you consider yourself to be ‘addicted’ to social media?’


EY 100%










0% 0 - 2 HOURS

3 - 5 HOURS

6 - 8 HOURS


Figure 3. Bar chart demonstrating generation Z’s response to the question ‘what is your daily average screen time on your phone?’


W TW 34.


2.2 DETOXING, DIETING, OR NEITHER? Whether or not intensive use of social media should be classed as an addiction, a 2017 Deloitte report stated that there was a growing awareness among younger consumers regarding their usage behaviour towards technology, who in turn began demonstrating efforts to control their digital interaction (cited in Miksch, 2018), however, in 2019 they retracted their statement revealing that the control of smartphone usage had decreased as consumers had accepted the consequences of over-use. A 2019 Mintel report contradicted Deloitte’s findings claiming that around half of social media users had cut down their usage in the past year, however, the result was higher for millennial users (59%) over generation Z

(48%). Research shows that social media use has increased this year as a direct result of the Covid-19 lockdown (Mintel, 2020), however, in 2018, 56% of US 18-23 year olds stated they were making an effort to cut down their social media usage (Cope), and a Global Web Index study saw 1 in 5 people digital detoxing and 7 in 10 people digital dieting (limiting their usage) (Paisley, 2018). The analysis of the research indicates that there was a growing trend in digital detoxing or dieting pre Covid-19, however the contradicting sources cause difficulty in determining long term effects and results of the detox trend. The pandemic appears to have influenced consumer behaviour as people relied on social

media to connect with friends and family (Mintel, 2020) which may be responsible for the usage increase in 2020. The research also suggests that there is a significant increase in awareness among consumers of the effects of excessive digital or social media use, therefore allowing consumers to modify their behaviour and demonstrate efforts towards controlling their usage, although Greenfield sates it will be difficult to exert control as smartphones “dominate social space wherever we gather” and act as an “extension of our bodies as a prothesis” (2018). Furthermore, a survey carried out for this paper saw that 38.13% of respondents had undergone a social media detox previously, and 67.30% of respondents claimed they would consider carrying out a social media detox in the future, demonstrating a growing interest in the trend, however, respondent seven from the focus group believes social media detoxing to just be “another social media trend”, indicating a reluctance to acknowledging the issue among consumers. Lanier claims social media account deletion is the appropriate method to take control of digital usage (2018), however Malecka believes that the term ‘social media detoxing’ is disempowering and projects shame onto the individual (2020). Evidence suggests that industry experts have differing solutions to excessive social media use as DWC and CHT believes in proving tools and education to aid consumers in any method of control they choose whether it be detoxing, intentional use or specific app deletion (Bowles, 2020; CHT, 2020).




2.3 THE KEY DRIVERS Earlier literature reveals that Kraut et al’s ‘longitudinal internet study’ concluded that a former version of the internet led to loneliness and depression among users (1998, cited in Hamburger, Wainapel & Fox, 2002). More recent research echoes this theory, claiming that social media has created a disconnected world that “suffers from a heightened sense of isolation” (Lanier, 2018) whilst other researchers have speculated a correlation between social media and mental health (Alcott et al, 2020) suggesting that technological advancements have long been a concern of psychologists. Malecka, however, states that social media has not been a present factor in society long enough for there to have been sufficient studies of the link between social media and mental health (2020), yet a metaanalysis review saw results that state the relationship between social media and mental health has a minimal effect, and that there is a more prominent link between social media and social support (Bowles, 2020), although the study could be criticised due to a lack of data, resulting in a weak argument. Furthermore, survey results show 91.19% of respondents across all generational age groups believe social media has a negative effect on their well-being. A Mintel report supports this statement claiming 80% of social media users state it negatively affects them (2019). Contrasting research claims that social media aids identity development and the development and maintenance of friendships (Uhls et al, 2017), yet Harris debates this claim stating that social media is having adverse effect on human connections (2017). A study by Hall saw participants completing 19 activities during a period of time where they both used and abstained

from using social media. The results saw no change to the participants socialising habits when abstaining, and instead were seen working, cleaning and completing more chores (2019, cited in Allen, 2019). Although there was no significant change to social interaction, Hall failed to recognise positive change from the study, such as increased productivity, a common theme discussed in the focus group where participant four claimed social media was affecting his productivity at work. Relevant research suggests that ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) is a driving factor of unproductivity as the need for digital connection led to increased interruption (Rozgonjuk et al, 2020; Hamutoglu et al, 2020), whilst participant one also believed FOMO to be the main cause of his excessive social media use. Furthermore, primary research shows that excessive social media marketing was affecting participants attitude towards social media, 41.83% claiming advertisements to be ‘annoying’ while influencer culture is untrustworthy. Collated, the research suggests that the lack of data has led to psychologists being unable to determine a concrete correlation between the effects of social media and wellbeing, however consumers are directly stating that they are able to place feelings of sadness, loneliness and unproductivity into their use of social media, while many are experiencing changing attitudes towards social media due to marketing saturated newsfeeds. Therefore, this research suggests the factors discussed may be key drivers of the social media detoxing trend.



Bowles believes that there has not been a ‘change’ in consumer behaviour towards social media, but that a negative perception of social media has intensified in the last decade due to aspects such as the speculated link with mental health, concerns over data privacy and distrust as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal (2020), a scandal that misused the data of tens of millions of Facebook profiles to aid American political campaigns (Confessore, 2018). Supporting research confirms that 70% of UK consumers do not trust what they see on social media, including brand content, and only 14% trust advertisers (Stewart, 2020). Furthermore, Malecka is of the opinion that social media users are beginning to think that the use of social networking sites is not improving their livelihoods but feel powerless to control this issue, resulting in them seeking help from STLL (2020). Literature is indicating that consumer attitudes are beginning to percept social media negatively as their attitude towards marketing changes and they begin to prioritise mental health, a theory that could be explained by Sally Denton’s ‘Future Matters’ trend talk where society are beginning to value their health more amid the pandemic (2020). A DMA report states concerns over data use has fallen from 84% in 2012, to 75% in 2017 and will continue to fall (2018), yet a more recent LS:N report contradicts these statistics as research states that consumer trust


regrading data is low, which could hinder innovation as consumers refuse to share data with brands (Stott et al, 2020). LS:N do however debate their findings by claiming that there is a growing awareness among consumers in the role data sharing plays in the improvement of society (Stott et al, 2020), agreed by DMA who state consumers see the exchange of personal information as ‘essential’ (2018). Nevertheless, DMA recognises a growing interest in the use of advertisement blockers due to a lack of transparency towards the use of consumer data (2018) which could affect Facebook’s video advertisements (Joll,

n.d.). Primary research for this study supports these findings as 51.81% of respondents would consider installing an advertisement blocker onto their phone or desktop, with 22.35% already having one installed. Arrowsmith also expresses the importance of transparency and believe brands will need to alter their marketing strategy to meet the new consumer demand (2020) while Sigrist expresses that transparency will bring us closer to ‘Enlightenment’ (2013). The evidence suggests that intensified negative consumer attitudes towards social media and data collection could potentially affect social media marketing strategies

WO and social media use as a lack of trust and self-prioritisation ensues, however, contradicts separate findings around the problems surrounding extensive data collection depicted in The Social Dilemma (2020) as some consumers see data as an important factor to modern growth, but would prefer more transparency.



Are social media marketing strategies at risk?


THR H 42.

REE 3.1 THE CURRENT CLIMATE OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING Determining whether the factors discussed have had a large impact on social media marketing has been made challenging due to contradicting sources and the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. A Social Bakers report revealed that the UK saw a 10.5% decrease in Instagram

engagement at the beginning of the lockdown in March, with Facebook engagement declining also (2020), however, McCarthy claims that Hidden Fashion saw Instagram engagement peak in March but were not meeting engagement targets in the following months (2020). Lucy

Chetwynd from Pretty Little Thing (PLT) claimed that the pandemic had a positive effect on the brand’s social media engagement due to increased ‘spare time’ and PLT’s position in the industry as a household name brand (2020).

Furthermore, despite negative themes such as ‘time wasting’, ‘manipulation tool’ and ‘destructive’ from the primary research, 43.75% of respondents claim they are using social media more than they were 6 months ago. This research suggests that social media use may have increased amid the lockdown due to factors such as boredom, addictive tendencies, increased free time and connectivity, although this does not necessarily mean that consumers were directly engaging with more social media content. Mintel also suggests that generation Z increased their social media usage due to new emerging social media platforms such as TikTok, however, claim some consumers are making conscious efforts to decrease their social media use across all generations (2020). McCarthy explains how TikTok is not an attractive platform for smaller brands due to marketing imposing higher costs (2020). Siu reports that social media has began to have a negative impact on marketing, claiming that 48% of brands are struggling to gain ROI on their social

media content, perhaps due to Facebook implementing ‘Time Well Spent’ into their platform and Instagram switching to a non-chronological ordered algorithm which is having a detrimental effect on small businesses (2020). This echoes a statement from McCarthy who said Hidden Fashion’s content is suffering as a result of the algorithm due to them being a “niche brand” (2020). As both social networking sites changed their newsfeeds pre Covid, one may say that the effect of Covid-19 has been minimal, and brands were beginning to experience decreased engagement due to a change in network algorithms. The effect however appears to be having a larger effect on smaller online brands as opposed to more wellknown brands such as PLT as they rely on social media marketing to push the brand name.


HRE 44.



Critics believe that the implementation of the ‘Time Well Spent’ movement by the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram has become yet another ‘marketing strategy’ for social networking sites to capitalise off as they are credited for “putting a bandaid on the symptom without addressing the disease” (Stollzoff, 2018). Gilliland recognises this to be a driving force for the altering of newsfeeds, however, also claims it may be an honest attempt to address the negative effects of social media use as Facebook states engagement will decline, but the long-term effects will see valuable content for its users (2018). ‘Time Well Spent’ may be an incentive to repair users’ perceptions of social media platforms amid changing consumer attitudes discussed in this paper, although efforts could

be perceived as social networking sites prioritising the wellbeing of their users before advertisers, portraying a risk to brand’s marketing strategies. Supporting evidence shows that marketers will have to adjust their strategies to work with the algorithm by improving the quality of their content (Riley, 2020; Gilliland, 2018), especially as the percentage of followers who interact with brand’s posts is less than 5% across all social networking platforms (Siu, 2019). Furthermore, smaller fashion brands rely on influencer marketing due to the strategy being cost effective (McCarthy, 2020), however, Arrowsmith questions the future of influencer marketing as she believes the stereotypical influencer will become less influential and consumers will begin looking towards inspiring people who will demonstrate positive change (2020). Forbes claim that influencer marketing will combat the effects of advertisement blockers

(2018), however, the focus group also discovered that consumers are beginning to question influencer authenticity. This may pose a threat to any fashion brand who utilises influencer marketing as they may have to invest more money into advertisement space on social media as organic reach becomes unreliable (Riley, 2020). This method may not however act as the solution to algorithmic changes as studies show 74% of millennial and generation Z consumers are ‘annoyed’ by targeted advertising which resulted in 56% reducing their social media usage due to this (Siu, 2019). Again, the evidence suggests that changes to the social media climate may have a significant negative effect on smaller brands with less expenditure as social networking sites prioritise their users over their paying clients.








Figure 4. Infographic demonstrating the percentage of a brand’s followers who engage with social media content based on the social media platform.



The minority have criticised Harris, claiming that his advocation for a ‘Time Well Spent’ experience on social media does not produce a concrete solution that social networking sites and brands should adapt to (Newton, 2019; Bowles, 2020) indicating that the phenomena is too new to determine the answer to the issues surrounding social media, however, Harris does propose that we start questioning the advertising business model (2017). As research suggests that social media marketing is changing due to the implementation of the ‘Time Well Spent’ movement, fashion brands may have to revaluate their social media marketing strategy to sustain their position in the industry. LS:N predict that honest and realistic brands will succeed in the upcoming decade by using data to improve and engage with human needs as branding becomes less about aesthetics and more


about meaningful interactions with consumers (Stott et al, 2020) while Arrowsmith claims that brands need to start adopting a cause marketing strategy (2020). Facebook, like other platforms, is prioritising ‘meaningful interactions’, therefore brands need to adopt the same approach in their marketing strategy which in turn will be favoured by the algorithm and reach intended audiences (Riley, 2019), while a Mintel report states that 53% of consumers prefer to associate with a brand that aligns with their values, a statistic that is predicted to increase as consumers question why brands were able to create content surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, but not other important issues (2020). Supporting research also suggests that brands should begin selling stories through their marketing content and not product, therefore humanising the brand (Siu, 2019).


3.3 IS THERE A SOLUTION? The Positive Marketing theory could be applied to this practise as it contributes value to the brand, customer and general society, however, has been criticised due to it being classed as ‘textbook marketing’ that does not reflect the reality of marketing (Tadajewski, 2016). The

Anthropomorphic theory may be more suitable as it focuses on the humanisation of a brand and moves away from product related marketing in order to create an equal relationship between brand and consumer to create a connection (Dahl, 2015). Chetwynd and McCarthy both claim that their ‘self-care advice’ content was some of their most successful content of the year, while Hobson claims that consumers look to brands to offer more than product and believe brands have an obligation to educate on social issues such as BLM and the LGBTQ+ community (2020). Furthermore, survey results show that 54.65% of respondents would be more likely to engage with social media marketing if the content was ‘mindful’ and made an impact on their day, with 100% of generation Z saying this is something they would be interested in (2020). The general consensus of the research suggests that brands will need to humanise and offer meaningful content to consumers in order to remain key players of the fashion industry. A change in content will give brands a better chance in the competition for algorithm recognition while displaying content that allows consumers time to be ‘well spent’ through education and inspiration. This new method of marketing does however pose some potential obstacles as the focus group respondents claim they sometimes approach cause marketing with caution speculating ‘performative activism’, while other consumers want simplicity from brand marketing (Stott et al, 2020) and wish to consume social media and marketing content without being reminded of ‘world issues’ (2020).








DISCOUNTS OR SALES 37% 38% Figure 5. Bar chart demonstrating the percentage of consumers who are likely to engage with social media marketing posts based on the content.


AL 67%

55% 57%

50% Posts consumers will like and comments on Posts consumers will share






This study aimed to investigate how fast fashion brands can sustain their social media marketing strategy and address the potential threat of changing consumer attitudes towards social media, therefore explored new marketing tactics to adapt to an age where social media detoxing is gaining popularity and consumer distrust is prevalent.

The relevance of the research concluded to be significant as evidence suggests that consumers are experiencing a growing awareness of their excessive social media use and have demonstrated efforts to reduce their screen time, posing an impending threat to fast fashion brand’s content engagement. The result of excessive social media use may be due to the collection of consumer data, which has in turn been used in implementing ‘persuasive design’ into social media products, speculating the cause of social media addiction. Furthermore, the study revealed that the ‘social media detoxing’ trend, or control of social media use may largely be driven by factors such as mental health implications and unproductivity in both a professional and personal environment, however, recognises that further research must be conducted in order to determine a concrete link between social media use and these factors as a lack of data exists. Nevertheless, consumers are directly stating that their motivation to control their social media use has

been strongly driven by the latter, indicating that social media does in fact have a negative effect on the well-being of society. An additional motivation may be that consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the use of their data for the development of ‘persuasive design’ and personalised advertisements, however, contradicting research suggests that despite these concerns, consumers have reached an understanding that the use of data is essential for societal growth, yet would prefer more transparency as to how their data is being used. This does not however change consumer’s stance on personalised advertisements as the research suggests they perceive them to be ‘annoying’.


CONCLUSION One of the more significant findings from the research concludes that the effects social media has on society has placed pressure on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to implement the ‘Time Well Spent’ movement into their product, resulting in the modification of newsfeed algorithms to prioritise meaningful content and friend’s posts. One may say that the ‘Time Well Spent’ movement has posed a threat to fast fashion brand’s marketing content as they compete for algorithm recognition, therefore, the change in consumer behaviour has affected social media marketing in more than one form as this fuelled the motivation for the implementation of the movement initially. As social networking sites prioritise valuable newsfeed content for their users, this has created new challenges for fast fashion brands, particularly niche companies with less brand exposure, as they rely on social media marketing to push the brand name. The assessment of the brand representatives evidenced that they aim to combat the challenge of the aforementioned algorithm changes through the utilisation of influencers, however, future trends predicted by the marketing academic state that the use of influencers is unsustainable due to a growing lack of trust among consumers, and that brands need to start collaborating with inspirational figures who demonstrate positive change. Furthermore, the focus group respondents emphasised their dislike of marketing saturated newsfeeds and believe influencers to be inauthentic, an opinion largely backed by relevant secondary research. The ‘digital wellness’ representatives also conclude that consumers will continue to experience a growing awareness of the effects of social media in the future. Collectively, this further suggests that brands will have to adopt a new strategy to sustain their position in the industry as consumer behaviours continue to evolve. Overall, the study confirmed that changing consumer behaviour poses a threat to social media marketing, prompting a change in marketing strategy for fast fashion brands. The research collected embraces the idea that marketers should curate more


meaningful content, resulting in the engagement of consumers through conversation and increased chances in being favoured in updated algorithms designed to stop excessive consumption of social media. The implementation of this impactful content that educates and empowers will allow consumer’s time to be ‘well spent’, aligning with Tristan Harris’ movement. This in turn creates a unification between brands and social media platforms to prioritise consumer well-being whilst actively operating a successful business model that benefits all parties.




FUTURE STUDIES The contradicting sources and lack of data exploring the effects of social media on consumers suggests that further research needs to be conducted to determine solid links between consumer behaviour and the effects of persuasive design technology. The results of these studies will inform the research needed to reach a concrete solution that benefits consumer wellbeing, social media marketing strategies and social media platforms. This research does not focus on one particular generation as the social media effects apply to all age groups, however, it would

benefit brands with a specific demographic if the study tailored to a particular age group in order to better understand the needs and wants of that consumer. The use of Survey Monkey provided limitations to the research as the platform only allowed a maximum of 10 questions to be asked per survey, therefore two separate surveys were created to answer the objectives of the research. This resulted in survey two receiving half the number of responses than survey one, causing the results to be imbalanced and potentially inaccurate.


The research indicates that brands will need to focus on better engaging consumers with their content through humanising the brand and creating mindful, empowering content. Therefore, marketers should focus on content that evokes conversation that consumers can interact with and makes the consumer’s engagement with that content ‘time well spent’. This may result in the algorithm prioritising the new meaningful content that may reach a new audience.

allowing consumers to trust the message of the brand and avoid the content being labelled as ‘performative activism’. The brand must truly embrace what they are endorsing.

Brands should use their platform to educate their audience on societal issues, a conversation that will be well received by generation Z.

Brands should also scope to engage with inspiring social media figures that will demonstrate positive change.

Although they should implement meaningful content into their strategy, brands should focus on the content being authentic,


Brands should continue to utilise social media influencers; however, they should not rely on influencing as their single marketing strategy and should pay attention to consumer trends and be ready to adapt their strategy at any time.


SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETERS Primary research revealed that consumers may not utilise app features that control social media usage, therefore designers should implement new features that better control the amount of time a user is spending on their device to prevent intensive social media use.




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RESEARCH REFERENCES Alcott, H., Braghieri, L., Eichmeyer, S and Gentzkow, M (2020) The Welfare Effects Of Social Media. Available at: https://pubs. [Accessed 03/12/2020] The research findings of this report were used as supporting literature in the argument that there is in fact a link between social media and negative mental health impacts as the researchers of the report believe there to be a correlation between mental health and excessive social media use, concluded from a multitude of studies conducted by the researchers. Allen, S (2019) Social Media’s Growing Impact On Our Lives. American Psychological Association. 20 September. Available at: [Accessed 03/12/2020] This psychological news article outlined the condensed study by Hall (2018) which examines the behaviour of participants using


and abstaining from social media. The study’s findings argue that social media has little effect on social interaction, debating Harris’ claims (2017), however I reanalysed the study to determine a positive effect on productivity to provide context to the focus group findings which saw social media having an adverse effect on productivity. Arrowsmith, L (2020) Interviewed by Emily Williams via email. 23 November This interview of a marketing academic provided insight into future consumer trends towards social media marketing, aided in the debate on whether the use of influencers was sustainable, and helped conclude that cause marketing would be a beneficial marketing strategy for fast fashion brands, directing my research towards positive marketing. Bendoni, W (2017) Social media for fashion marketing: storytelling in a digital world. London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts. This book was useful in providing context to the adoption of social media in the fashion industry, however, provided a biased account which was outlined and criticised in the main body of text. It did however help me to understand why social media has been such a successful tool in the fashion industry has been and how brands used to work with the algorithm before ‘Time Well Spent’ was integrated into social media platforms. Bloomberg Technology (2018) Tristan Harris Says Tech Companies Have Opened Pandora’s Box. [video] Available at: shorturl. at/ijtHO [Accessed 02/12/2020] This interview of Tristan Harris added context to some of the other resources of Harris’ that I used and provided a description of persuasive design through Snapchat’s ‘Snapstreak’ feature to give an example to the reader to better understand how social networking platforms have used manipulation in their product. Blumenthal, P (2018) Facebook And Google’s Surveillance Capitalism Model, Is In Trouble. The Huffington Post. 29 January. Available at: [Accessed: 30/11/2020] This archived news article gave context into the social media business model and how it uses surveillance capitalism to build their products and market advertisement space to clients. It also supported Panda’s (2017) account of the Advertising Model that Facebook operates. This helped me to understand the monetisation of social media platforms, however also provided limitations to data collection, such as the EU GDPR policy. Bowles, S (2020) Interview by Emily Williams via Zoom. 24 November This interview provided an unbiased evaluation of the positive and negative aspects of social media and allowed me to understand the driving forces of intentional technology use and how it would benefit people. Furthermore, Bowles provided insight to a metaanalysis review which provided a debate for the positive effects of social media. Additionally, she also contextualised the attention economy model and provided an informed opinion on brand’s responsibly for positive social change. Burnard, P., Gill, P., Stewart, K. et al. (2008) Analysing and presenting qualitative data. Br Dent J 204, 429–432. Available at: [Accessed 23/11/2020]. This study inspired the qualitative data analysis method through the coding of data to inform the research of common denominators among respondent answers. The paper provided an educational breakdown on how to efficiently conduct the analysis which I in turn applied to my own work. Carmicheal, K (2019) Push vs. Pull Marketing: How They Differ and Work Together. Hubspot. 12 September. Available at: [Accessed 06/12/2020] This resource only provided a small sample of research to my work, however, gave an understanding to how social media can be considered both a push and pull method of marketing depending on the content, allowing me to group the research with another source to form a debate.


Clifford, N., Cope, M., Gillespie, T and French, S (2016) Key Methods in Geography. [e-book]. 3rd edn. United Kingdom: Sage. Available at: groups&f=false [Accessed 06/12/2020] This book was useful in informing me of the benefits of using a semi-structured interview guide for the planning of my interview questions. This allowed me to formulate questions that left scope for a varied answer where I could ask the interviewee additional questions based off their answer. Confessore, N (2018) Cambridge Analytica and Facebook: The Scandal and the Fallout So Far. The New York Times. 4 April. Available at: [Accessed 04/12/2020] This article provided a description of the Cambridge Analytica scandal to add context to my research and inform the reader of what the scandal entailed. This supported other research that outlined a lack of trust towards Facebook. Constine, J (2018) Facebook feed change sacrifices time spent and news outlets for ‘well-being’. Tech Crunch. 12 January. Available at: [Accessed 02/12/2020] This article provides a brief selection of information to inform the reader of how Facebook implemented the ‘Time Well Spent’ movement into their algorithm, allowing me to form the conclusion that Facebook are prioritising valuable timelines, therefore posing a threat to fast fashion brand’s marketing strategies. Cope, R (2019) You Heard It Here First: Digital Detox. Available at: [Accessed: 24/10/2020] This Mintel article was discovered in the initial stages of my research where I first learnt that there had been an increase in social media detoxing in 2018. This research allowed me to apply social media detoxing to my own question, directing my research to investigate where this would have a negative impact on social media engagement and marketing. Dahl, S (2015) Social Media Marketing” Theories and Applications. 1st edn. Los Angeles: Sage This book was highly useful in allowing me to apply theories to the research that I had found, therefore providing a psychological insight and additional supporting evidence into why certain marketing methods may or may not work. Data Reportal (2020) Global Social Media Overview. Available at: [Accessed: 26/11/2020] This resource provided statistical evidence to give context to the popularity of the current social media climate and gave insight to the fast track growth of social media platforms, helping me to understand why it is such a relevant marketing tool. Deloitte (2019) Global Mobile Consumer Survey: UK cut. Plateauing at the peak. The state of the smartphone. Available at: [Accessed 03/12/2020] This report allowed me to contradict the findings of a previous Deloitte report, outlining the growing concern consumers have for their data. This was useful as it provided insight into the changing consumer perceptions of social media data collection, allowing me to conclude that consumers are too integrated into the use of social media to form a solid opinion on their data being used for the benefit of marketing. Denton, S (2020) Future Matters. Industry talk. Microsoft Teams. 10 November. Attending this trend talk highlighted evolving consumer trends as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Although much of the talk’s insight could not provide much information to my topic, I did learn that consumers would prioritise their health post Covid-19 which could potentially be applied to mental health prioritisation, allowing me to conclude that this could be an important factor in changing consumer attitudes towards social media.


Dijck, Jose (2013) The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media. New York: Oxford University Press. This book was highly useful in providing a historical context to the evolvement of social media platforms and allowed me to form an understanding of the rapid growth of social media, resulting in it emerging into a social media marketing tool. DMA (2018) Data privacy: What the consumer really thinks. February 2018. Available at: [Accessed 04/12/2020] This DMA report contradicts other existing evidence that perceives consumers to have a negative attitude towards data collection. Grouped with other resources, I was able to make the suggestion that the consumer stance on data collection varies, however, this source evidences that data may not be a driving factor for the digital detoxing trend. Dreifus, C (2017) Why We Can’t Look Away from Our Screens. The New York Times. 6 March. Available at: [Accessed 02/12/2020] This article highlights that some psychologists have classed intensive social media use as an ‘addiction’ allowing me to group the source with other relevant research to conclude that a lack of data exists to form an informed opinion. Facebook (2020) What ‘The Social Dilemma’ Gets Wrong. Available at: What-The-Social-Dilemma-Gets-Wrong.pdf [Accessed 02/12/2020] This statement by Facebook provides a structured debate to contradict The Social Dilemma documentary. The sample of information used in my work was useful as I was able to form an opinion that Facebook implemented the ‘Time Well Spent’ movement into their product as a result of criticism, but are prioritising their users overpaying clients for advertising space. Firth, P., Sigrist, S and W.I.R.E. (2013) White Noise: Why A Data-Driven Society Needs More Common Sense. Zurich: W.I.R.E This book was useful in my research as it provided an unbiased argument for the positive and negative aspects of data. Furthermore, due to the year it was written, it also provided some historical debate when compared to other research. The book also formed my opinion that retracting from a digital society is unrealistic, directing my research towards digital wellness and intentional technological use. Forbes (2018) 14 Effective Strategies to Overcome Ad Blocking. Forbes. 22 June. Available at: forbesagencycouncil/2018/06/22/14-effective-strategies-to-overcome-ad-blocking/ [Accessed 06/12/2020] This Forbes article provided information as to how brands can overcome the increasing number of advertisement blocker installations through the use of influencer utilisation, allowing me to pin contradictory research to form a conclusion that the future of influencing is not sustainable, further enriching my theory that social media marketing was at risk. Gartenberg, C (2018) How do Apple’s Screen Time and Google Digital Wellbeing stack up? The Verge. 5 June. Available at: [Accessed 02/12/2020] A small sample of information was extracted from this article to provide an example of Apple’s app time limit feature. This provided a basis for the argument that the focus group conducted for this paper believe that the app limit feature does not work. Greenfield, A (2017) Radical Technologies. United Kingdom: Verso This book provided a biased account of the negative effects smartphones have had on society, allowing me to group sources together to form a debate. The book also allowed me to gain an understanding of the psychological effect smartphones have on our brains, directing my research down the avenues of addiction and the use of data. Gilliland, N (2018) Why is Facebook focusing on ‘time well spent’? Econsultancy. 16 August. Available at: https://econsultancy. com/why-is-facebook-focusing-on-time-well-spent/ [Accessed 05/12/2020] Gilliland provided an unbiased account of Facebook’s motive to implementing ‘Time Well Spent’ into their product, considering ulterior motivations. The article also helped in allowing me to form the opinion that Facebook modified the algorithm for the benefit of their users, implying that the former algorithm structure was having an adverse effect on people.


Hamburger, Y., Wainapel, G. And Fox, S (2002) ‘On the Internet No One Knows I’m An Introvert’: Extraversion, Neuroticism and Internet Interaction. Research Gate. 5(02). pp. 125 To provide historical context to the study, I compared a 1998 study that was written about in Hamburger et al’s report to compare the negative impacts of the early stages of the internet to the negative impacts of social media to form the opinion that intensive social media use has long been a concern of psychologists, strengthening the justification for this study that negative social media use is a relevant topic. Hamutoglu. N, Topal. M and Gezgin. D (2020) Investigating Direct and Indirect Effects of Social Media Addiction, Social Media Usage and Personality Traits on FOMO. International Journal Of Progressive Education. 16(02). Available at: https://files.eric. [Accessed 02/12/2020] Grouped with other relevant research, Hamutoglu et al’s report provides a strong suggestion that FOMO is a contributing factor to excessive social media use. I was able to underpin this with data from the focus group to form an opinion that this was a contributing factor to the negative effects of social media use. Harris, T (2017) How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day. [video] Available at: talks/tristan_harris_how_a_handful_of_tech_companies_control_billions_of_minds_every_day [Accessed 02/12/2020] Harris’ 2017 Ted Talk was a vital source of information to discuss the effect of a ‘Time Well Spent’ newsfeed and how society should be questioning the business model of advertising in order to formulate a solution for the overuse of social media. The talk was often used to support existing relevant evidence and form debates against critics of his advocation for a reformation of social media. Hobson, A (2020) Interviewed by Emily Williams via email. 13 November Due to Hobson representing a non-fast fashion company, I was careful to not include a large sample of data from our interview as it may form a biased argument, however, Hobson’s stance that we should look toward brands to educate on social justice issues was used to support the argument that brands have an obligation to provide meaningful content for consumers. Instagram (2018) Introducing “You’re All Caught Up” in Feed. Available at: introducing-youre-all-caught-up-in-feed [Accessed 02/12/2020] Instagram’s article announcing the “You’re All Caught Up” check mark was used to provide context to the reader of what efforts social networking sites have demonstrated to implement the ‘Time Well Spent’ movement into their product. Johnson, R.B. and Onwuegbuzie, A.J. (2004) Mixed Methods Research: A Research Paradigm Whose Time Has Come. Educational Researcher. 33(7). Available at: [Accessed 23/11/2020]. This journal article was used to develop an understanding of why a mixed methods approach to primary research was beneficial to the study and allowed me to provide context to my methodology. Joll, K (n.d.) Are Ad Blockers Killing Paid Content Promotion? Audience Ops. Available at: [Accessed 06/12/2020] A small sample of this article was used to explain how ad blockers could and can affect social media marketing as the research suggests that Facebook advertisements are at risk from an increase in advertisement blocker installation. I was then able to direct my research to finding a solution that would combat advertisement blockers. Kane, L (2019) The Attention Economy. Available at: [Accessed 01/12/2020] This article allowed me to further explore the workings of the attention economy model to further enrich the research obtained from a primary interview source. This allowed me to provide context to the reader as to what the aim of the attention economy model is and how it operates.


Kotras, B (2020) Mass personalization: Predictive marketing algorithms and the reshaping of consumer knowledge. Available at: [Accessed 01/12/2020] Kotras’ study regarded another perspective towards to the utilisation of consumer data to curate personalised advertisements. I was then able to use the study which stated that Big Data regard the use of data as a form of manipulation to provide an argument towards the positive effects of data use in the marketing industry and directed my research down the avenue of persuasive design. Lanier, J (2018) Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. United Kingdom: Vintage This book was prominently used in the research due to Lanier’s differing but heavily biased stance towards the control of user data and provided an argument for each negative factor as a result of social media. Therefore, I was able to use much of Lanier’s research when evaluating the opinion of industry leaders to form a solution to the social media problem. Lieber, C (2018) Tech companies use “persuasive design” to get us hooked. Psychologists say it’s unethical. Vox. 8 August. Available at: [Accessed 02/12/2020] This article provided useful context and examples of how social media platforms integrate persuasive design into their products, allowing the reader to gain an understanding of the methods whilst also providing examples of persuasive design to provide context to the argument. Malecka, C (2020) Interviewed by Emily Williams via Zoom. 27 November This interview provided a wealth of information to support several arguments made in the text, such as the lack of data to conclude the link between social media and mental health and how ‘social media detoxing’ is not a realistic method of social media control. Furthermore, the research provided me with an understanding of the benefits of intentional smartphone use and the underlying psychological explanations as to why humans are drawn to social media. MarketLine (2018) Boohoo: How a market stall became an international empire. Available at: Analysis/ViewasPDF/boohoo-how-a-market-stall-became-an-international-fashion-empire-66204 [Accessed 01/12/2020] This report allowed me to provide supporting information as to why influencer marketing has been an essential marketing method for fast fashion brands such as Boohoo, therefore allowing me to apply the two-step flow theory to the workings of the influencer business model. This then directed my research into further discovering the significance of the utilisation of influencers in the fast fashion marketing strategy. McCarthy, Z (2020) Interview by Emily Williams via Zoom, 16 November. This interview remains highly significant to the research as McCarthy reveals the negative impact that the social media algorithm has on smaller fashion brands, therefore allowing me to conclude that niche brands face the biggest challenges amid changing consumer behaviours towards social media. The research also suggests a reliance on the future of influencer marketing that I was then able to debate with other relevant sources contradicting the findings. Meier, M (2013) Social Media Addiction Today. Available at: [Accessed 02/12/2020] This report introduced the gratification theory to support evidence that consumers are attracted to social media through the means of heightened self-importance. This theory further enriches the idea that consumers are addicted to social media. Combined with other sources, it allowed me to conclude where speculated addiction is a driving force for the controlling of social media use. Miksch, L and Schulz, C (2018) Disconnect to Reconnect: The Phenomenon of Digital Detox as a Reaction to Technology Overload. Available at: [Accessed 03/12/2020] This report summarises a second Deloitte report that states that consumers are becoming increasingly concerned over the use of their data that I was then able to contradict with a more recent report. Comparing both reports allowed me to conclude that the attitude towards data collection is ever changing.


Mintel (2019) Social & Media Networks - UK - May 2019. Available at: display/959694/?fromSearch=%3Ffreetext%3Dsocial%2520media%2520addiction [Accessed 03/12/2020] This Mintel report highlighted that consumers were making a conscious effort to cut down on their social media usage, therefore strengthening the theory that consumers were experiencing changing consumer attitudes social media. The report also allowed me to contradict the findings of another report to form a debate. Mintel (2020) Media Trend Autumn. Inc Impact of Covid-19 - UK - October 2020. Available at: display/1044333/?fromSearch=%3Ffreetext%3Dsocial%2520media [Accessed 04/12/2020] This Mintel report depicts a more update account of consumers cutting back their social media use, however, also states that social media usage has increased amid the Covid-19 pandemic. This therefore allows me to reach the conclusion that the pandemic has had a significant influence on social media usage when compared to earlier reports of deceased social media use. Mintel (2020) Social Media: Inc Impact of COVID-19 - UK - July 2020. Available at: databook/988728/ [Accessed: 26/11/2020] This report informs the research that the short-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic will see a surge in social media use, further strengthening the theory that the pandemic has had a significant effect on social media usage. Mintel (2020) Technology Habits of Generation Z: Inc Impact of Covid-19 - UK - September 2020. Available at: https://reports. [Accessed 03/12/2020] This report provides statistical evidence that generation Z are concerned over the mental health implications of social media. This research allowed me to conclude whether or not mental health concerns are a driving factor for the digital detoxing trend. Newton, C (2019) The leader of the Time Well Spent movement has a new crusade. The Verge. 24 April. Available at: https:// [Accessed 02/01/2020] This report states a criticism towards Tristan Harris’ advocation for the ‘Time Well Spent’ movement, while also providing the study context as to what CHT’s aim is as an organisation. The unbiased article allowed me to group sources together to provide a debate of contradicting sources to reach an informed conclusion. Paisley, E (2018) 1 in 5 Consumers are Taking a Digital Detox. Global Web Index. 5 September. Available at: https://blog. [Accessed 03/12/2020] This Global Web Index article provided statistical evidence to back up my argument that consumers are participating in the social media detoxing/dieting trend. This research aided in answering one of the objectives and provided justification to why the research topic is relevant. Panda. R, Mehta. B and Karani, A (2017) Business Models on Social Media. ResearchGate. 5(2). Available at: https://www. [Accessed: 25/11/2020] This report outlined the structure of the advertising business model that social media platforms, including Facebook, have implemented to monetise their product towards marketers. This source aided me in contextualising the marketing of consumer data to curate personalised advertisements and helped me to understand the structure of the social media business model. Patil. Megha (2016) Social Media and Customer Relationship Management. IOSR Journal of Business and Management. 1(5). pp. 27-32. This report offers context and helps the reader understand why social media websites are an attractive platform for online marketing, therefore explaining the rapid growth of social media as a global marketing tool. Rawat. S, Jindal. S, Shankar Moorti. R, Mangal. Yash and Saxena. Neelam (2018) Change in IT world with the evolution of social media using Big Data. IEEE Xplore. Unknown. Available at: authors [Accessed: 25/11/2020]


Rawat’s research suggests the shift between marketing models from traditional media to social media, therefore providing and understanding for the consumer’s need to be an active participant in a brand’s social media marketing strategy. RetailTalk (unknown) How the Instagram algorithm is affecting businesses. Available at: [Accessed 01/12/2020] This article suggests that the Instagram algorithm is favouring content from larger brands, therefore causing challenges for smaller brands who rely on social media marketing to push the brand name. This research further supports McCarthy’s (2020) statement that smaller brands are seeing decreased engagement due to the effects of social media algorithms. Riley, B (2020) Social media changes in 2020: How to stay prepared. Sprout Social. 6 February. Available at: https://sproutsocial. com/insights/social-media-changes/ [Accessed 05/12/2020] This Sprout Social report suggests that brands need to focus on improving the quality of their social media content to improve their chances of reaching their intended audience as organ reach becomes unreliable, indicating that the modification of the algorithm has become a problem for several brands who are in turn seeking advice on how to improve their social media engagement. Rishi. B and Bandyopadhyay. S (2017) Contemporary Issues in Social Media Marketing. 1st edn. Unknown: Taylor & Francis Group. Rishi’s study investigates the effect that data collection through surveillance capitalism has on the attitudes of consumers. The source provided a contradicting account of attitudes, however, helped me to understand the positive and negative aspects that consumers consider when forming an opinion towards data collecting technologies. Rozgonjuk, D., Sindermann, C., Elhai, J and Montag, C (2020) Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) and social media’s impact on daily-life and productivity at work: Do WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat Use Disorders mediate that association? Available at: [Accessed 03/12/2020] This report helped provide further insight into the factors contributing to social media addiction and unproductivity. The research allowed me to underpin the focus group results with secondary research to further prove my argument that consumers personally feel addicted to social media. Saunders, M., Thornhill, A. and Lewis P. (2019) Research Methods for Business Students. 8th edn. Harlow: Pearson, Pearson Education Limited, Pearson Education. This book aided me in successfully formulating a set of survey questions and allowed me to understand and limitations I may face in the conducting of my surveys. The research concluded to be useful as I received a positive response to my survey questionnaires. Siu, E (2019) The changing position of social media in 2020: What does it mean for marketers? Impact. 25 November. Available at: [Accessed 04/12/2020] This article outlines the negative impacts that the social media algorithm is having on social media marketing and provides statistical evidence to declare the effects this is having on ROI. The research also prompts brands to sell stories through their content, not product, contributing to the theory that the result of low engagement is largely due to low quality social media content. Social Bakers (2020) State of Social Media Report: The Impact of Covid-19. Available at: [Accessed: 19/10/2020] This Social Bakers was discovered during the initial stages of my investigation and acted as a key driver to research engagement statistics in relation to social media marketing content. I found this research interesting as the report was dated during the Covid-19 pandemic where one may expect social media engagement to increase due to increased spare time to use social media.


Staffer, K., Oglethorpe, G., Martin, A., Jones, R., Tew, G., Tew, M and Stanford, J (2020) Interviewed by Emily Williams via Zoom. 19 November This focus group was conducted with the motivation to further probe consumer attitudes towards social media. The focus group followed a semi-structured interview guide and was formulated based off the survey results from my primary research. Here I discovered a change in attitude towards social media as I made links with mental health and a dissatisfaction with social media marketing content. Stewart, R (2020) Advertising and social media face fresh trust issues amid global crisis. The Drum. 15 May. Available at: [Accessed 04/12/2020] This article provided statistical evidence to support claims that consumers were demonstrating a lack of trust towards social media content, including that of marketing content. This suggested to me that social media marketers may need to adapt their social media content to the new wants and needs of the consumer. Stollzoff, S (2018) Technology’s “Time Well Spent” movement has lost its meaning. Quartz. 4 August. Available at: https:// [Accessed 05/12/2020] This article criticises social networking platforms for capitalising off the ‘Time Well Spent’ movement, implying that user wellbeing is not a prioritisation. I was able to group this research with an opposing study to formulate an opinion as to whether or not social networking sites are regarding their user’s best interests. Stott, R., Bishop, K and Coleman, R (2020) Post Purpose Brands. LS:N Global. 25 March. Available at: [Accessed 04/12/2020] This LS:N report provided a wealth of research for the study, such as indicating a negative consumer attitude towards data, although consumers recognise data as essential for societal growth and suggesting brands should adopt a human approach to marketing if they wish to remain successful players in the industry. This further strengthened my argument that consumers want to see impactful, educational content. Tadajewski, M (2016) Relevance, Responsibility, Critical Performativity, Testimony and Positive Marketing: Contributing to marketing theory, thought and practice. Journal of Marketing Management. 32(17-18). Available at: https://www.pearltrees. com/s/file/preview/232193097/19892.pdf ?pearlId=334309454 [Accessed 05/12/2020] This journal article was useful as it attempted to apply the positive marketing theory to research that prompts brands to integrate meaningful content into their strategy. Although the theory did not apply, it allowed me to compare with a separate theory and identify the relevancy of the theory to better understand the research. Zuboff, S., Harris, T and Toscano J (2020) The Social Dilemma [documentary] Directed by Jeff Orlowski, Netflix, USA. 94 mins. This documentary proved to be the most significant wealth of research as it provided the basis to the entire study. The film provided the initial information and helped me to understand the psychology behind persuasive design in social networking products, therefore directing my research to the effects social media has on its users. Uhls, Y., Ellison, N and Subramanyam, K (2017) Benefits and Costs Of Social Media. Pediatrics. 140{02). Available at: https:// [Accessed 03/12/2020] This article provides a contradicting argument to other research as it provides the positive effects of social media on human relationships, therefore allowing me to present a well-rounded, unbiased argument in my research. Waterson, J (2019) Social media addiction should be seen as a disease, MPs say. The Guardian. 18 March. Available at: https:// [Accessed 02/12/2020] A small sample of information was extracted from this article; however, it strengthened my argument to investigate whether consumers are addicted to social media as it depicts that the British government maintain concerns over the excessive use of social media.










































































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