What is Public Relations, Anyway?

By: Rob Clark

5 minute read

I was visiting home recently when my grandpa asked me, “So, what do you do? What is public relations?” It was a simple enough question. But this question symbolized almost every interaction I have when asked about my major. 

As public relations students, not everyone is going to know what we’re learning. After all, we aren’t studying nursing or accounting – majors that most people understand the duties of. I’ve heard before that as a public relations professional one of the things I’ll need to get used to is people in my life not really understanding what I do. 

I disagree. 

It’s our job as public relations professionals to be able to explain what exactly public relations is and the value it offers. After all, how can we expect others to understand the role and value of public relations if we can’t explain it ourselves? 

It’s my hope this blog post will help you, a young public relations professional, have a better understanding of what differentiates public relations and how being knowledgeable matters in our life and career. 

Public relations is NOT these things

Public relations is not just media relations. While this is a component of the job, there is so much more to public relations than any one thing. (Image via Spin Sucks)

Let’s start with what public relations isn’t in response to some ways people in my life have describe it. 

Public relations is not:

●      Media relations

●      Putting a positive spin on something

●      Advertising for nonprofits  

●      Just talking with people

So, what exactly is public relations? If you’re like me, you probably know public relations when you see it but have trouble putting it into words. It might help to explain what public relations isn’t, based on some common misconceptions. 


It’s not marketing

Sure, marketing and public relations do some similar things. However, there are also key differences.


●      Place attention on the specific product (we focus on the organization as a whole)

●      Only try to reach customers (current or potential)

●      Focus on sales results 

●      Measure success differently

It’s also not another word for advertising

A simple but accurate explanation of the simple differences between marketing, advertising and public relations. (Image via CTES Consulting)

Advertising and public relations are easy to confuse. They do a lot of similar things, but they carry them out in different ways. 

Also, if you’re like me, a lot of your classes cover both public relations and advertising while featuring a mix of AD/PR students. However, there are of course still differences. 


●      Focus more on generating sales

●     Only target external audiences

●      Work toward a shorter-term goal

●      Pay for media coverage

●      Measure success differently

Public relations has its own unique features

Just as marketers and advertisers have things unique to what they do, as public relations professionals we have things unique to what we do. 

Some features that are unique to the practice of public relations are:

●      Unpaid, but more trustworthy media coverage (people tend to believe what others say about you more than what you say about yourself)

●      Managing the image, reputation and promotion of the organization as a whole

●      Internal communication 

●      Communication with all stakeholders (customers, government officials, board members, etc.)

●      Crisis planning and communication 

We also have a range of career options as public relations professionals. The three main options are: 

●      Agency – Working with a range of different clients that hire the agency you work for.

●      In-house – Working for only one client. 

●      Nonprofit – Similar to in-house, you only work for one client. This client is a nonprofit organization

I understand what public relations is. What’s next?

So, you understand and can articulate what public relations is. 


It’s important for us to really understand what we’re doing. We should be able to explain it, how it differs from other fields and the value it offers. However, there’s still a big question that needs to be answered…

Do the people who can hire me understand public relations?

Unfortunately, many small business owners think public relations is only for globally recognized organizations and fail to see how it can also benefit them and their business. (Image via pixabay)

This is the real question. For us to succeed, the people who have the power and money to hire us need to understand what we do and see the value in it. 

Luckily, many bigger organizations’ perceptions of public relations have changed over time. It has gone from being seen as something that’s only needed if times are tough, to being recognized as a critical day-to-day function.  

Many high-level executives have realized that public relations can help raise an organization’s visibility, enhance the organization’s credibility and help diffuse or minimize a crisis.

This shift in attitude can be seen in the job growth public relations has experienced.  

Unfortunately, there’s still a disconnect between perception and reality in some areas. Many small business owners have the misconception that public relations is only for big, globally recognized organizations. 

They fail to realize that public relations can also help them grow their business’ brand image, strengthen brand relationships and provide connections to other resources.

So, what can I do to help?

The good news is that reading this blog post is an example of what you can do to help! We should be able to show and explain to people and decision-makers, big and small, the value public relations has. Part of being able to do this is always trying to learn more and keeping up with industry news and trends.

Being able to explain the value of public relations is good for the profession, which is good for us.But it’s also good for the people benefitting from the services we provide. It’s a win-win-win.

Just as I can clearly explain to my grandpa what public relations is, I can also explain to a business owner the functions of public relations and the value it offers her company. Hopefully after reading this, you’re able to do the same or are inspired to do your own research and reach that point. 

Take the steps to be a knowledgeable, confident public relations professional and do your part to help move your career and the industry forward. 

This way, the next time you’re asked, “What is public relations, anyway?” there’s no reason to sweat it.  

By: David Malecki

6 minute read

My name is David Malecki. I am studying advertising and public relations with a minor in marketing at West Virginia University. I am really interested in photography and videography, and recently got a job with the University as a photographer. 

Now wasn’t that boring?

The fact is, no brand is more important to you than your own brand. Imagine if I could tell an exciting story with no more than a few words, or even no words at all – that’s the beauty of personal branding.

Consider this introduction instead:

When the world was at a distinct turning point in early 2020, my insatiable curiosity led me to take up an opportunity to truly learn photography. Seeing photo credits to David Malecki in print for the first time was an unforgettable experience. This moment also compelled me to change majors to advertising, because I want to be a creative voice for a brand or organization. As a result of this, I have started a freelance business, accumulated several awards, became a photographer for the Daily Athenaeum and Mirage Magazine, and have obtained a highly desirable position as a photographer for West Virginia University Relations. Yet my story is only just beginning. 

Me during a photoshoot with my cheesy Western Hat and button-up, a signature look I have adapted through the years.

Here’s how it can be applied:

While my personal branding education is just beginning, I would like to share four techniques that have been important on my journey. I will discuss various things that can help make a strong personal brand such as logos, buzz words, colors, stylistic choices, and even a consistent outfit or accessory like a watch or glasses that make your signature style.


As college students in the age of online technology and social media, it’s more important than ever to make more than just a good impression. But the fact of the matter is, in this world where everyone is seemingly individual and “uniquely you,” why does it seem like no one takes advantage of just one unique thing about them and goes with it? 

Here are 4 of what I believe to be the most important factors in successful personal branding in the digital age.

1. Create your own color pallet and logo

An important thing to consider about your own branding is the mood you cast based on your clothing colors. For me, wearing blue, green or tan is very common. Green brings attributes of freshness as well as success from the color of money. While blue, with its calming effect, is linked to wisdom and intellect.  For more information on what colors represent, click here.

Next, create a logo using your strong colors. Let it visually represent you by using your passions or objects you like. For example, using a camera into the logo to show your love for creative storytelling. It can be simple and not distracting and can go a long way in defining who you are with no words. Simply for my resume, I applied a graphic of a video camera, my circle glasses, and a photo camera.

A brief overview of my resume incorporating visual elements such as my colors, graphics, and a photo.

2. Develop your story using strong buzzwords

For this, consider some strong words from here. Then, really think about the best attributes of you and the words that define you in a powerful way. For extra emphasis, use an adverb to support the chosen word, such as saying ambitiously driven. For me, the words I would like to use are creative, kind-hearted, insatiably curious, and adaptable. 

From this selection of words, choose a few to incorporate into a true story about yourself. It can be long or short, but a deep narrative is much more compelling than some surface-level facts. Think back to the beginning of this writing, how much of a difference using the right words brought. 

3. Have a distinct “look”

An overlooked but incredibly important part of personal branding is how you look. Having a consistent favorite outfit can define you, and people will become familiar with the look. After all, would Steve Jobs be Steve Jobs if he didn’t wear his black turtleneck, jeans, and white New Balance sneakers?  Even Oprah Winfrey changed her personal branding early in her career before becoming her well known and renowned self.

he consistent yet iconic look of Steve Jobs throughout his years. Sometimes it only takes 1 unique outfit to be connected to you.

It could be as simple as a bright watch, a pen in a shirt pocket, or a pair of distinct glasses. Our University President Gee is often seen with circular glasses and a bow tie, which people immediately associate with him. Even in our own Martin Hall, Professor Borghese is seldom seen at work without his signature black polo. Style!

WVU President, E.Gordon Gee in his usual bowtie and glasses, how he is almost always seen on campus.

4. Connect your personal brand to the world

If you are not incorporating personal branding into your personal life, you are setting yourself up for professional failure. Being genuine is more important now than ever, with social media creeping into our personal and professional lives. 

With the explosive success of TikTok and other social media, keeping up with these platforms to capitalize on who you are is an incredible opportunity to make a name for yourself. 

Personal branding is something that everyone should in corporate into their professional as well as personal life, no matter their career preference. It will help them stand out from the crowd of nameless faces as a refreshing one. “Whether you have a date or a job interview, chances are someone is going to Google you to learn more about who you are.”  

After all, you should own it if it makes you distinctly you

Works Cited

Chan, G. (8 November 2018). 10 Golden Rules Of Personal Branding. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/goldiechan/2018/11/08/10-golden-rules-personal-branding/?sh=46724e3458a7

Castrillon, C. (12 February 2019). Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinecastrillon/2019/02/12/why-personal-branding-is-more-important-than-ever/?sh=6d93f4022408

Color Psychology: What Colors Should You Wear and Why. Science of People. https://www.scienceofpeople.com/color-psychology/

Weiner, W. (15 March 2019). 5 Words to Describe Yourself When Building Your Personal Brand. Thrive Global

By: Kathryn Carter

College students searching for internships often go straight to Indeed.com and put “Public Relations and Advertising internships near me” into the search bar. Internships for huge companies like Saint Laurent, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and Warner Media come up and although these are amazing opportunities that will give interns a resume boost, the long-term benefits gained from these programs are extremely different than what interns leave boutique agencies with. 

 Having only five employees working on 20 to 30 accounts can be an extreme challenge, and many companies wouldn’t be able to handle that workload. Due to this, interns are valued much more in smaller agencies because they help carry their client and customer service driven work more than those at a large firm. 

 It’s my goal in this blog post for young public relations and advertising professionals to understand why it’s important to not overlook smaller agencies.

What is a boutique agency?

The smaller staff atmosphere is the selling point for many clients and potential workers when choosing between a large agency vs. small one. (Image via InstaPage)

Benefits of interning at a boutique agency:

 1.  Connections 

 Quality over quantity. 

 Our parents and professors are constantly saying that it’s “all about the connections” when you start looking for a job, but it’s difficult to know where to begin building these. Being an intern at a small agency allows young professionals an opportunity to market themselves through events, social media, and the work they publish during their time at these agencies.

 Being a part of a small team allows for more face-to-face time with your boss and even your clients. 

 This may not seem very important to many but learning from professionals who have years of experience under their belt can lead to better opportunities in the future. This is not only because of the knowledge they instill in you, but also because of the professionals they know who are in positions that could help secure a future job. 

 These connections can lead to more valuable personal recommendations or even future employment opportunities. 

2.  Increased Number of Tasks

Boutique agencies value the opinions and work interns contribute and view them as a vital part of the team. (Image via. Setup)  

Boutique agencies provide interns with opportunities to work on a variety of different projects that help them learn the ropes of PR or advertising fairly quickly.

 Fewer people = more work per person. 

 This isn’t a bad thing at all though because it allows for interns to get their hands on a variety of different tasks. The young professionals leaving boutique agency internships are well rounded because they assist all of the team members who have varying skill sets and job duties. 

How professionally enriching it is to be involved in all aspects of the campaign planning? All the way from brainstorms to drafts, smaller agencies value the opinion of their interns and expect you to be involved from the get-go. Boutique agencies lack the power struggles and unnecessary competition that many large agencies thrive off of. 

Some of the task’s boutique agencies assign their interns: 

·      Drafting creative briefs, social media postings, press releases, and any other various forms of writing

·      Managing project reports 

·      Contributing to PR brainstorming and strategy processes

·      Providing support and marketing the clients are various special events 

·      Monitoring clients’ accounts and social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and others)

·      Providing content for all of these social platforms including, but not limited to blog posts 

3.  Emphasis on creativity 

 Smaller, boutique agencies inspire creativity. They are constantly encouraging their interns to speak up when they have an idea that may be considered off book or out of the box. 

Ways boutique agencies inspire creativity: 

  • Constant change in the responsibilities that interns have
  • No corporate policies that have to be strictly followed 
  • Partnering interns with clients that are purpose-driven and ensure that even their weirdest ideas are heard 
  • Including interns in lunches and weekly team meetings 

What a boutique agency taught me 

This summer I had the privilege of interning at 360 Media, a boutique agency in Atlanta, GA. 

 Through this I gained; better references that allow for companies to get to know me better, a well-rounded resume and website portfolio, and relationships with all different types of clients, the staff, and media personals. I was able to improve on my communication skills and gain realistic experience in more than one aspect of PR/Advertising.  

What does this mean when looking for internships? 

None of this means that you shouldn’t apply for internships at large firms, but it’s important to recognize the benefits of working at a boutique agency before you begin your search. 

 Often, they’re overlooked because they’re hard to find when in reality, most college students either aren’t aware of the benefits boutique agencies possess or don’t know where to begin looking. 

That being said, here are some things you should be looking up when searching for internships this year: 

  1. “Boutique agency internships” 
  2. “Small firm PR/Advertising internships” 
  3. “Small digital marketing agencies” 

It’s important to go outside of the normal searches as well. Begin by looking for the agency website instead of the job listing, that way you can figure out what their values are and how they run their company. 

The harder you look, the more likely you are to find a boutique agency that meets all of your needs as an intern. 


The only negative of working for a boutique agency is that interns may not receive the recognition from potential employers that they would at a well-known agency. However, when given the opportunity to elaborate on what you gained from your internship, employers will quickly see the overall understanding and copious amount of knowledge that former boutique agency interns can bring to the table. 


By: Kayla Stein

(Image credit: https://www.nonstop.hololive.tv/)
Members of Hololive, a popular VTuber agency.

What if I told you some of the internet’s biggest influencers don’t really exist? VTubers, or virtual YouTubers, are digital avatars that livestream, game, and entertain viewers across a variety of content. The catch? They’re not ‘real.’

VTubers generate billions of views and millions of dollars in revenue and have become not only pop culture phenomenons, but also innovative marketing tools across a variety of industries. From food to fashion to social media itself, prominent VTubers can be seen in advertisements for Taco Bell, Nissin Ramen, and other industry giants. Other virtual icons, like Samsung Sam and CodeMiko, have proven the technology’s potential in domestic marketing, too.

While VTubing is rooted in Japanese online culture, its rapidly growing popularity in the west is something to keep an eye out for. It is significantly more common for Japanese brands to use anime characters or cartoons in their advertisements, but the emergence of US-based VTuber ads is more than enough evidence to suggest that western brands are paying attention. 

You should, too.

What is a VTuber?

The term ‘VTuber’, or virtual YouTuber, refers to content creators that use digital avatars in place of their actual body or face. These avatars are designed and piloted by technicians utilizing motion capture technology to map their movements and expressions to a 3D model, allowing them to become a precisely designed online persona.

(Image credit: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoSrY_IQQVpmIRZ9Xf-y93g)
Gawr Gura, Hololive EN’s beloved shark-cat girl, streams Minecraft.

Although they might look it, VTubers aren’t all that different from regular content creators. Just like normal human creators, they vary wildly in content type, audience size, and platform presence, but also in personality, appearance, and demeanor. The adoption of these virtual ‘shells’ allows the human pilot to invent their own persona and become someone completely different. This empty canvas provides a cutting-edge opportunity for brands to engage their audiences in unique and exact ways, as they can be customized completely.

Although concepts similar to VTubing had existed in the years prior, Kizuna AI is considered to be the first official VTuber after coining the term herself during her debut in 2016. Known for her quirky comedy, singing, and dance videos, she set the stage for VTuber agencies to gain massive international traction in recent years.

Why is it so popular?

(Image credit) Kizuna Ai demonstrating the motion capture technology and its precision.

In order to understand why VTubing got so popular, both abroad and domestically, it is important to examine its origins and current cultural influence.

Just like any other talent, popular VTubers can and often are affiliated with agencies. While the overwhelming majority of VTubers are not, it’s important to understand the industry agencies, as they’re the biggest names involved in influencer marketing and are credited with today’s popularity of VTubing in the western world. VTuber agencies provide the content creators with additional technical support, brand-level promotion, and convenient collaborations with their other signed creators. 

While there are dozens of VTuber agencies and groups with diverse rosters of talent, Hololive, in particular, is widely regarded as the reason that VTubing broke into the western world. With a combined 53 million subscribers and over 4.7 billion views between their regional branches, it’s safe to say that Hololive has people’s attention. 

(Image credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8c4_22LjGQo)
The thumbnail of holoEN’s debut video on YouTube, including (from left to right) Ninomae Ina’nis, Takanashi Kiara, Watson Amelia, Mori Calliope, and Gawr Gura.

Their US branch, holoEN, features a full roster of English-speaking VTubers, all of which debuted under Hololive as the COVID-19 lockdowns became more widespread in the summer and fall of 2020. This convenient timing helped to rapidly accelerate their traction in the US, as people had more than enough time to dive into more niche creators on the internet. 

Hololive is a great example of how agencies split their talent into international branches. This regional division makes it much easier for viewers to find VTuber content in their language and time zone. It also makes it much easier for advertisers to implement these more targeted and regionally palatable talents into their campaigns. 

What does this mean for brands?

VTubers offer brands and advertisers a wildly different medium to create content. In influencer marketing, these popular content creators can engage niche international audiences. In creating a VTuber themselves, everything from their appearance to their voice to their personality is a completely blank slate for the brand to build their campaigns around.

Kizuna AI was one of the first VTubers to be used in mainstream media advertising. In 2018, SoftBank, a Japanese mega-conglomerate valued at over 342 billion dollars, used her as part of an influencer marketing campaign to promote the new iPhone on her YouTube channel.

Some brands are even setting world records in their campaigns, like Nissin Foods during their Yakisoba UFO noodle promotion. 

(Image credit: https://grapee.jp/en/117618)
On June 24, 2019, VTuber Kaguya Luna live streams from 19 miles above sea level, breaking the previous Guiness World Record during a promotion for Yakisoba UFO.

Even local governments are getting involved. In Japan, each prefecture has a mascot used for domestic travel marketing. It didn’t take long for Ibaraki Prefecture to create Ibara Hiyori, their official VTuber icon. 

VTuber influencer marketing isn’t restricted to just Japan, however. The audience is international, and so are the brands. 

Gawr Gura, a member of Hololive EN, had a cameo in one of Taco Bell’s ads promoting their food during the 2021 Summer Olympics. 

Hell, even Netflix has their own VTuber, a sheep girl that hosts videos on the Netflix Anime channel.

(Image credit: https://www.pdvg.it/en/2021/04/29/ecco-a-voi-n-ko-la-vtuber-targata-netflix/)
N-Ko Mei Kurono, Netflix’s branded VTuber, introduces herself for the first time during her debut in April of 2021.

Franchises western audiences might be more familiar with, such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Boss Baby, are also using this tech to promote their IP by creating virtual models of their iconic characters. 

Perhaps the perfect example of the trend gaining popularity in the west is Barbie herself. The iconic American toy now vlogs on her YouTube channel with nearly 11 million subscribers. 

These agencies have already identified international audiences, both for regular viewership and for advertising opportunities. It’s time we take advantage of it, too.

So… how does it work? What is motion capture technology?

Just like the VTubers themselves, the complexity of motion capture technology, or mo-cap, is wildly variable. With a relatively diverse range of prices, technical requirements, and time commitments, there are options for anyone to take a crack at it. 

Firstly, VTubers need an avatar. As the technical challenges to VTubing often involve highly specialized labor, it is difficult for most people to undertake designing and creating the model themselves. Most times, VTubers will either tweak a pre-made model found online, or commission an artist to create a 3D avatar of their choosing. Everything can be customized, with some VTubers even spending additional money for artists to create new custom clothing for their avatar. Once your avatar is ready to go, it’s time to get started on mo-cap.

(Image credit: https://medium.com/@hyprsense/how-to-become-a-virtual-youtuber-influencer-7074b852fb9)
A screenshot of a technician mapping a VTuber avatar to motion capture hardware.

Motion capture technology for VTubing is a combination of two major parts: hardware and software. A lot of VTubers simply use a basic webcam and pre-made VTuber software to map facial expressions and minute head movements. However, this can scale all the way to full-body suits that track all movement, with smaller haptic sensors like motion capture gloves offering a happy medium. 

While there are always variables, the most common configurations include the following:

Webcam + VTuber Software

(Image credit: https://www.vseeface.icu/)
A group of VTubers demonstrating facial mapping technology using a webcam and model software.

This is the most common VTuber set-up, as it is the least expensive, least time consuming, and least technically demanding configuration. Free software exists to automatically map your face to ready-to-use or custom imported models. However, by nature, this is the most restrictive setup in terms of what motion is actually captured, as it can essentially only map facial expressions.

Motion capture gloves + Webcam + VTuber Software

(Image credit: https://www.fxguide.com/fxfeatured/the-gloves-are-off-well-on-actually-rokoko-test-drive/)
Motion capture gloves mapped to a digital 3D plane

This configuration allows the user to increase their range of motion capture. While it is still less expensive and less time-consuming to learn to use than a full-body suit, it requires special software to combine the motion capture between the gloves and the webcam. This allows VTubers to make use of their hands and arms during broadcasts. 

Full-body suit + VTuber Software

(Image credit: https://www.xsens.com/)
A VTuber demonstrating the Xsens full-body motion capture suit using an iPhoneX to track facial expressions.

This configuration is by far the least common, as it’s the most expensive and time-consuming out of the three. It requires intense and specialized labor, as well as enough space to record the motion capture itself. However, VTubers of this caliber have full use of their body, and can even dance or jump around. Some suits include facial cameras, but other VTubers combine the suit with an additional camera to add the expression tracking. This is by far the most immersive option, and the closest we are to ‘virtual reality’ becoming a real thing.

The Bottom Line

As technology incessantly integrates further into our daily lives, it’s fair to assume that VTubers will only continue to grow in popularity. The internet is vital to the livelihoods of billions of people across the globe, and we rely on our digital presence for work, school, entertainment, and more in a seemingly endless loop of ‘being online’. 

Influencer marketing strategies that utilize these VTubers have an incredible opportunity to take advantage of our society continuously moving into virtual spaces. They have the power to engage niche audiences, introduce new marketing mediums, and embrace internet culture in all of its glory. It is critical that marketers, advertisers, and communication professionals understand the potential that they could unlock for any brand campaign on an international scale.

By: Samantha Sliger

 It’s time to talk about it. You had high hopes for what social media could mean for your small business, but over time you’ve lost motivation to keep your accounts up to date. Well, listen, you entrepreneur, don’t give up yet! We live in an age where over 80 percent of the United States population is using social media. This means that we are lucky enough to have tons of tools to help with creating social pages that thrive! 

  1. “My posts lack creative design”

Canva Premium is an online graphic design program that allows users to choose from thousands of templates. Creating enjoyable content is hard, especially if you don’t have a graphic designer on your team, but this is where Canva comes in. With the substantial number of templates, the creative possibilities are endless.  

Price: Starts at $12.99 a month 


  • Publish designs directly from the Canva  
  • No prior design skills needed 
  • User friendly interface 
  • Affordable pricing  
  • Offers certification courses 

These are just a few of the tutorials Canva offers customers to help grow your business.

Still not convinced? Look at these posts. Which one do you like more? The one on the right? Of course, you do! I made the design on the right in five minutes by using a Canva Pro template and you can, too.

Sally's Cupcakes.png
Sally's Cupcakes (1).png

2. “I just don’t have time to post everyday”

Hootsuite is a platform that allows businesses to schedule out their content weeks to months in advance. By spending a few hours crafting content that your audience will actually like and then scheduling it in Hootsuite, you will stop posting filler content. By filler content I mean when you realize it’s been two weeks since you last posted so you throw a picture of your product up on the Gram to make up for it. No judgement. We’ve all been there.

Price: Starts at $49.99 a month 


  • Schedule posts and stories in advance 
  • Schedule posts for multiple platforms 
  • User friendly interface 
  • Certification course available 

Want to know what it looks like? Here is an example of content that has been scheduled on Hootsuite. 

3. “Is having a social media account even worth it?”

So, you think you want to be on Instagram, but aren’t sure it’s worth it. Let’s start by talking about the type of account you have. If you have an Instagram business account it means that you have switched your profile from personal use to business use. Now, you will have access to a variety of analytics including: engagements, follower rate, audience demographics, how many times your post was shared, as well as others. Using an Instagram business account allows you to understand what kind of content your followers like as well as what posts don’t do very well. With this information you can then focus on uploading content that is most engaging for your audience.

Price: Free! 


  • Access to Instagram Analytics 
  • Advertise and sell through the app 
  • Add contact information to bio 
  • Connect Instagram page to Facebook  
  • Includes Promoted posts 

Take a look at all the great data insights you are able to get by using an Instagram business profile.

Now go get started… 

The tools above will help to make the most use out of your social media pages. Canva puts the fun back into creating engaging content. Hootsuite allows for easy scheduling of content in advance. Instagram Business lets you check your social media analytics, which then helps you to know what content your audience enjoys best.  

Most importantly they’ll save you time every week! 

– Samantha Sliger





By: Emma Magruder

Expensive. Technological. Boring. 

These were the top three words fans of Formula One used to describe the sport in 2015. What brand wants this reputation among their fanbase?

Many organizations are faced with similar criticisms from their fans, and they are often left wondering how to reposition their image to spark positive engagement on social and digital media. Looking for an answer to fix this?

Fasten your seatbelt and hold on to your steering wheel as we take a deep dive into how Formula One shifted from near extinction to one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. 

Embracing behind-the-scenes content

Liberty Media took over Formula One’s media in 2017 and has never looked back. The media company threw out previous rules barring teams from posting content from official sessions, and engagement picked up immediately. Some reports say social media channels have grown by 55% since Liberty’s takeover! To illustrate the impact, take a look at the engagement growth compared to franchises like MLB, the NFL and the NHL.

Formula One saw a 99% increase in engagement growth from 2019 to 2020. (Image via F1)

Suddenly, fans previously limited due to broadcast restrictions could watch live updates of any and all sessions and engage with content and drivers as events were unfolding. Teams started to participate in challenges and trends like an NBA free throw challenge or a waffle-stacking competition which allowed viewers unprecedented access to the personalities of the drivers. As new relationships between the sport and fans emerged, F1 went from a struggling sport to one with a younger, more engaged audience.

Netflix took notice of the growing sport and jumped on board. In a rare move, the sport agreed and Netflix began to follow along drivers and teams during the season. From one-on-one interviews with top drivers and team principals, the Netflix crew also got a look into the personal lives of team members away from the track. Dedicated followings for drivers emerged after the show’s success, finding a large viewership in the untapped market of the United States.

Netflix filming a conversation featuring driver Daniel Ricciardo for “Drive to Survive.” (Image via IMDB)

In addition to Netflix’s role, the sport’s innovative approach to social and digital communications has contributed to fan growth. An important step the sport took was changing how it presented itself online to fans and how it engaged with them beyond a race weekend.

Becoming a fan

Official social media accounts of companies are not known for their unique and engaging voice, but Formula One decided to flip their previous approach to communications on its head. Instead of the once distant persona that shared technical details and performance updates, social media admins turned to the persona of a fan. Teams began using slang and emojis typical of a fanbase and referencing internet trends and memes. F1 effectively cultivated their own fan base through official social channels, and many brands can learn from their success in creating a loyal fanbase.

Proven success

Formula One’s social strategies have had measurable success. Toward the end of October, the United States Grand Prix was held in Austin, Texas, in front of a sellout crowd, the first in the track’s history. Over 400,000 people attended the three-day event (some would call it a carnival) which was a 51% increase from the last time the race was held in 2019. 

Many teams and drivers embraced some American cultural emblems and icons, from Talladega Nights’ Ricky Bobby and cowboy hats to driving a Nascar. All of these moments were captured on social media by fans and teams alike, spreading across all channels and driving an increase in engagements organically.

Top takeaways

There is a lot to learn from the success story of Formula One’s social and digital revival. Check out some of the key takeaways from their strategy: 

  1. Make the audience feel like they’re a VIP
  2. Sound like a fan on social media
  3. Showcase personalities, not technicalities
  4. Embrace change and social trends
  5. Use digital platforms to your advantage in reaching new audiences
Crowd at the United States Grand Prix on Oct. 24. (Image via Twitter)

Formula One is proof that embracing behind-the-scenes content and unique brand personas can have a profound impact on a loyal fan base, and many other social media teams should take note of this success. While the process is not easy, and it clearly takes time, it can turn your brand image around.

Expensive. Technological. Boring.

Sound familiar? Now, try this.

Bold. Welcoming. Exciting. 

By: Max Russell

Photo credit: fiserv.forum

“Know what to do with it!” screams Paul Hayman as he tosses the Universal Championship belt between the battered bodies of Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. The two larger-than-life superstars scramble for the solid metal belt, with the Beast, Brock Lesnar, ultimately gaining possession. 

He makes to bash in the face of the Tribal Chief, Roman Reigns, when Reigns’s cousins the Usos leap into the ring and start beating Lesnar to the mat. The previously downed Reigns takes the belt, slams it into Lesnar’s head, and hits him with a finishing Spear.  

“One! Two! Three!” cries the official, and the Reigns Bloodline quickly escapes the ring with the belt before the Beast can get back up. 

If your heart was pounding during the Roman Reigns Vs. Brock Lesnar match at this year’s Crown Jewel Pay Per View like mine was, then you are a mark.

Photo credit: digitalspy.com
Roman Reigns attacks Brock Lesnar with the Universal Championship belt at Crown Jewel.

Striving For Top Marks

A “mark” in wrestling terminology is someone who buys into the emotion and characteristics of the storylines and characters. 

Creating loyal marks is what WWE’s marketing team is all about. From merchandiseto video games, to the wrestlers’ personas, everything produced by WWE is designed to be literally and figuratively bought up by marks.

The question is, how does WWE make a mark?

Photo credit: thesportsrush.com

Then… (Childhood in a Mark’s Life)

It all starts in childhood. A grandparent, parent, or friend tells you about a TV program where heroes and villains battle over truth and justice. You listen to stories of legendary men like Hulk Hogan, impossibly lifting the 500-pound Andre the Giant to attain victory. You’re hooked before your eyes even make contact with the TV.

The TV turns on and you see men like the Undertaker who seem to embody the supernatural. Men like the Rock, who don’t take any nonsense. Men like John Cena, who always do the right thing and never give up.

Children are WWE’s greatest assets, because they believe. At this stage in a mark’s life, the characters and storylines are still totally real. The child mark wants to be just like their favorite wrestler and achieves this goal through merchandise.

Photo credit: Walmart.com

Toying With the Audience (WWE and Mattel)

WWE uses merchandise to foster the child mark’s brand loyalty, and if there’s one type of merchandise children love best, it’s toys. 

One of WWE’s most important partnershipsis with the toy manufacturer Mattel. In fact, Mattel and WWE just announced a multi-year extension of their global toy licensing agreement on Oct. 21, 2021.

The child mark begs their parents for action figures of their favorite wrestlers, eyes lighting up every time they pass the toy aisle in the store. Holidays and birthdays might as well have WWE entrance themes, as every opened present brings the arrival of a new wrestler’s merchandise. 

The child mark’s love of wrestling comes from the programming, but the craving for WWE/Mattel merchandise comes from the commercials.

Children’s’ networks such as Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon bombard the young mark with WWE/Mattel advertisements. When the mark watches Monday Night Raw or Friday Night Smackdown, they are shown even more ads. 

These commercials are intended to make the mark want to buy toys, which will in-turn foster their loyalty to WWE. WWE/Mattel products, the WWE 2K games that will be discussed ahead, and other WWE product lines all utilize their own advertising that benefits the overall WWE brand as a whole.

The strategy is simple: show the wrestling, then show the product. Here’s what you love, and here’s what you want.

Photo credit: wwe.com

Trouble in Paradise (The Teenage Years)

 Just like Kofi Kingston’s “Trouble in Paradise” kick, there is a stage in a mark’s life that can spell defeat if not dealt with properly. This stage is known as the teenage years. 

It is during these years that the young mark learns that wrestling isn’t “real”. They are told that it is fake, and that they should move on. 

The mark starts looking at their favorite wrestlers in a cynical way, now less impressed by words and more so by actions. The teenage mark wants to see over-the-top moves, wants to see ultimate destruction in the ring. 

Just as a teenager yearns for control over their changing life, the teenage mark seeks control over the wrestling world. This is where WWE’s partnership with 2K games comes in.

 Time to Play the Game (WWE and 2K Games)

LikeTriple H, WWE knows when it’s time to play the game. If there is one thing that teenagers love, it’s video games. Behold, the WWE 2K franchise

WWE and 2K have been producing one game per year, much as 2K does in its partnership with NBA. Both the NBA 2K and WWE 2K franchises see massive success each time a new game is launched. For example, NBA 2K’21 (the most recent 2K game) sold more than 10 million copies with 2.3 million daily players. 

For WWE, video games are the way to keep the teenage mark anchored in wrestling fandom. The teenage mark continues to watch wrestling on TV, then recreates what they have watched by playing the wrestling video game. Playing the games allows the mark to play with others like them, giving them a community to be a part of. 

The child mark does not need other marks in order to enjoy WWE, but the teenage mark does.

Teenagers want to fit in, and the WWE video games give them a place to do so. 

 As the teenage mark reaches their 20’s, they subconsciously decide whether to remain a mark or abandon wrestling forever. All of the wrestling feats, messaging, and merchandise they have absorbed culminates in this decision.

Photo credit: en.wikipedia.org

Now… (Adulthood in a Mark’s Life)

The mark is now in their early 20’s. They have made the subconscious decision to remain a mark, and now they have a life of wrestling entertainment to look forward to.

20 is a little old for the previous methods of marketing to work, though, so how does WWE message to the mark now? Like every other brand competing for the attention of people in their 20’s, WWE uses social media.

 When not watching scheduled WWE TV programs, the mark can connect with their favorite wrestling company on all major social media platforms. They can scroll endlessly through clips of their favorite wrestlers on WWE’s TikTok account. They can see pictures of the wrestlers out-of-kayfabe (kayfabe means in-character) on WWE’s Instagram. 

 The mark can also access all WWE PPVs, original documentaries, interviews, and more through WWE’s partnership with the Peacockstreaming service from NBC. Peacock is home to WWE Network, WWE’s own version of a streaming service.

 The mark is never disconnected from their beloved wrestling.

Photo credit: bleacherreport.com
Fans erupt in cheers after Drew McIntyre’s emotional 2020 Royal Rumble victory

Forever. (Lifelong Mark Attained!)

Like the grandparent or parent that once enchanted the child mark with stories of WWE legends, the mark now tells their children and grandchildren of wrestling greatness. They enjoy watching with their younger loved ones, just as they did when they were young. 

In the end, WWE’s main marketing method is organic marketing. Fans sharing their love of wrestling with other fans. Through the methods described above and more, WWE creates generations of fans who share their love of wrestling with the generation after them. 

This cycle of marks ensures that WWE will always be there for us to love.  

Then, now, and forever!

Photo credit: superluchas.com

Learn the Moves (How you can apply WWE’s strategies to Your Own Marketing)

As you learned through reading this blog, WWE gains lifelong loyalty from their fans by catering to them in different ways throughout their various life stages.

 As WWE has taught us, knowing the target audience is key. Because WWE’s target audience changes as the mark reaches different life stages, the company employs different strategies and tactics for their various target audiences.

 Ultimately, though, every strategy and tactic WWE uses is with the purpose of gaining the consumer’s loyalty through every stage of their life. You can learn from WWE by being aware of your target audience and using the appropriate methods to gain their loyalty.

 Once your target audience’s loyalty is achieved, they will be just as willing to spread your brand’s messaging as you are. Take it from me, a loyal WWE fan for life!

Why do we continue to buy tickets to games for teams with consistent losing records?

Why do we participate in traditions for our alma mater, even if we know they will lose this weekend?

Why do we travel across the country for a bowl game our team is projected to lose?

It’s possible to argue that the reason we love our favorite sports team is not because they always win, but because of the feeling they give us by attending games, participating in traditions, and making us feel part of the family. These examples are all contributions provided to us by a team’s brand personality.

What is brand personality?

Brand personality refers to a set of human characteristics that are attributed to a brand name. In order to be effective, a brand will stick to one set of personality characteristics that fans or consumers can identify over time. A great brand personality will help to build brand equity, or a social value that helps to generate revenue.

Why does brand personality matter in sports?

Giving sports organizations an identifiable personality and story helps fans relate to the team. It is fair to argue that the community and feelings that a team conveys in their marketing is more impactful for fans than actually winning. The most dedicated fans will still buy season tickets, even if their team was 0-10 last season. While winning is a huge driving force in revenue generation, the excitement, culture, and community of sports is what keeps fans involved and dedicated to their favorite team. Each of these are examples of strategies used by athletic organizations to build their brand personality.

How do we create brand personality in sports?

  1. Define the target audience
  2. Establish a brand voice
  3. Determine the best platforms
  4. Deliver the message
  5. Interact with your fan base
  6. Build consistency over time

Case Study: West Virginia University Athletics

West Virginia University is an example of an athletic organization that has a strong brand personality that has been built over the course of many generations. WVU has built their personality through traditions, slogans, state representation, and social media to convey a brand personality that resonates with not only students, but the residents of the state as a whole. WVU has a unique stance as the flagship institution of West Virginia, and uses it to their advantage through their marketing.

Step One: Define the target audience

Defining the target audience is essential for a brand to understand who they are marketing to and what type of personality will resonate most with them. Some examples of questions that a brand can ask themselves about their target audience include: Who are they specifically? Where do they find their information? What do they value? Where are they located physically? Each of these questions helps to identify and understand the target audience, which allows a brand to determine what type of messages will speak to them. In the example of WVU Athletics, the target audience can range from students, alums, and residents of the state. This audience can be broken down into smaller segments such as their involvement at WVU, how often they physically attend events, and what types of products or experiences they choose to spend money on.

Step Two: Establish the brand voice

Choosing adjectives that reflect who the brand wants to be will better enforce their personality to a fan base or consumer. These words can include character or personality, the tone of voice, and the language that will be used throughout the marketing. Some words that come to mind when thinking of WVU’s brand voice include tough, gritty, hard-working, strong. These words can be seen through a number of different tactics by WVU, such as traditions, slogans, and hometown representation. Some traditions at WVU include singing Country Roads by John Denver, the Mountaineer Man Trip, the selection of the Mountaineer mascot, and the ‘let’s go!’ chant. The ‘let’s go!’ chant is also a slogan that is widely used by Mountaineer fans across the country when they see someone else wearing the flying WV. It is also part of the physical brand design across all areas of the university. Finally, hometown representation helps to tie in the homegrown, hard-working adjectives in the brand voice. WVU represents the state through their images of coal mining themes on social media and through their uniforms.

Step Three: Determine the best platforms

Now that the target audiences have been identified, a brand has to identify where they spend most of their time. Delivering messages to the platform that our target audience uses the most will help to enforce the brand personality ideas over time. Most college students are active on social media, making this the best platform for sharing messages. According to Hootsuite, nearly 30% of Instagram’s advertising audience are college-aged, or 18-24 years of age. This makes Instagram the perfect platform for WVU Athletics to market to their students. Using Instagram is an easy and effective way to keep a brand personality consistent over time. In the example of WVU, their football team’s profile keeps consistent filters, color schemes, icons, post schedules, and captions. 

Alumni of WVU have the opportunity to stay up to date with university news via the WVU Alumni app. WVU has over 210,000 alumni across the world that stay connected to news, sports, and events on the WVU Alumni app. This makes it easy to link stories, images, and information for alumni to easily access. 

Finally, the residents of West Virginia rely heavily on print media for news and sports updates from the flagship institution of their state. WVU Athletics has numbers of correspondence and coverage from all different areas of the state. Newspapers throughout West Virginia share stories, images, and recaps of WVU games for residents. This helps to further enforce statewide representation to the people of West Virginia.

Step Four: Deliver the message

After determining the best platform to market to a fan base or consumer, the actual delivery of the messages must take place. Sharing photos, videos, highlights, and more unique content on the appropriate platform will help to engage the target audience. This can be important for social media delivery, Alumni updates via the app, and consistent stories and updates in newspaper articles. Keeping a routine schedule helps to enforce the idea that the brand is here to stay, and so is their personality. Up-to-date information also contributes to the overall success of the brand personality, which drives brand equity from fans and consumers.

Step Five: Interact with the fan base

Sharing a brand personality is a start, but engaging fans to keep them involved is essential. Brands can invite their fans to tell their stories and share their experiences. Social media is a fantastic tool that allows brands to connect directly to their fan base. This can involve posting polls, creating hashtags, asking interactive questions, and sharing fan-created photos or content. Responding to comments, messages, and engagements helps to build trust between fans and brands. Inviting alumni to events on and off campus and encouraging them to connect with one another helps to create a sense of community. Contests or giveaways through newspaper articles helps to engage print media audiences and helps them to feel more engaged. Each example persuades the audience to become more involved with the brand and helps to hold their attention.

Step Six: Build consistency over time

Each of these strategies are a great start to building an impactful brand personality, but consistency is key when cultivating and maintaining relationships with a team. Developing social media schedules, building teams to proofread copy, and identifying achievable goals will help keep a brand, or team, on track to create loyal fans and boost brand equity. While the performance of a team cannot be determined by the marketers behind it, the experiences and feelings of the fans supporting the team can. Building a brand personality that is relatable and identifiable to fans is essential to creating connections and continuing a lifelong relationship with a team.

By: Jordan Stosic

The term ‘general market’ in marketing/advertising is no longer applicable, as a new diverse multi-cultured market emerges. In fact, researchers project that by 2045 non-Hispanic white people will no longer represent the majority in the United States, and in less than a decade, the population under the age of 30 will be a majority non-white. This shift in demographics will impact our national identity, politics and generational gaps according to sociologists and demographers.

Data: IPUMS NHGIS, University of Minnesota, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

So, how can a person or business anticipate this change and use it to become successful? In today’s blog I’m going to share what I learned about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at the Plank Centers Annual DEI Summit, as well as some useful insights to answer this very question.

The Plank Center, an organization whose mission is to develop and recognize the outstanding diverse leaders in the public relations industry, held their third DEI summit this month. I was one of ten scholarship recipients awarded to attend this summit and gala where I furthered my professional development.  I achieved this growth by learning how to develop what is called a ‘DEI Mindset,’ one I hope you develop after reading! 

What is DEI?

According to speaker Teneshia Jackson Warner, founder and CEO of EGAMI Group, DEI can be described as a ‘Dance Party.’ As she stated at the Plank Center Summit, “Diversity is giving everyone an invitation to the party, equity is everyone choosing a song to play, and inclusion is everyone dancing to the music.” DEI protects employers and employees by focusing on the creation of diverse teams with an inclusive workspace and equal opportunity. By focusing on the unique perspectives each individual has, a team gains a wider range of talent with improved productivity and problem-solving skills. DEI is more than just diverse people; it is diverse thought and protection.

What are the Benefits of DEI?

Employees are more likely to support DEI if they understand the many potential advantages it offers. This is probably why countless organizations, institutes and associations have recently come out with lists of DEI benefits. Below I’ll synthesize a few key take-aways that resonate with me as an emerging professional.   

For starters, according to Forbes, DEI impacts the bottom-line with inclusive companies being 120 percent more likely to hit financial goals. Further, DEI can improve work life for employees and that success can be seen in their performance. For example:

DEI offers employees a way to feel safe, respected, and connected. Diverse teams are more creative, innovative, and generate more business opportunity. Employees have higher morale and are more likely to stay within a company with DEI efforts. These teams provide those unique perspectives that can deconstruct an old and outdated method of business and turn it into something new and fresh.

Even though the benefits of DEI have clear and quantifiable success, there are still some factors to consider that might make one weary. The implications of DEI are important to understand to advance forward from them. 

What are the implications of DEI?

The ongoing debate of diversity and unconscious bias in business and media can have negative effects on DEI. However, doing something is better than doing nothing in the eyes of the consumer. With this in mind, here are a few points from a recent blog written by Michelle MiJung Kim from Awaken.

  • DEI fatigue is real, the constant exposure to tragedy and injustice leads people to feel less hopeful and care less over time. 
  • There is often a lack of data, meaning there is no way to quantify inclusion and equity which has made benchmarking success and progress difficult to analyze. 
  • Executive leaders are oblivious, scared or frustrated with DEI conversations. 
  • The definition of diversity is up in the air with many debating what aspects of identity beyond race, sexuality, and gender are important to consider as well.
  • Investing in employee resources can be costly.

Despite the implications, DEI is still worth exploring as the benefits outweigh any negative aspect. After knowing what hurdles DEI is faced with, you should be able to start having open conversation to jump past them.

What are the strategies to advance DEI?

During a workshop with Teneshia Jackson Warner and Andréa Richardson, the executive vice president of DEI at Zeno Group, at the Plank Center DEI Summit, we learned how to push ourselves, businesses and organizations to be more and do more. The tips I learned are as follows: 

  • Lead with cultural competency: being competent means having the skills, knowledge, and attitude to create authentic relationships.
  • Tackle bias relentlessly: bias works its way into every company, so you must be aware of how speak up.
  • Identify, understand, and tackle personal barriers: everyone has personal bias and opinions, but they should not interfere with business. 
  • Embrace conscious inclusion: homogeneous teams lose diversity of thought, impacting the bottom line.
  • Master the art of empathy: a necessary component of creating meaningful relationships.
  • Value the lived experience of others: someone who has seen another side of the table can provide a perspective you lack.
  • Seek and solicit diverse perspectives: cultural fit is not as important as skill qualifications—cultural fit hires lead to homogeneous teams, with similar experiences and viewpoints.
  • Creating safe spaces for others: team members need to feel safe to share parts of themselves to be acknowledged and heard. Not only after tragedy—created throughout the work cycle, regardless of timing.
  • Manage up, down, and across: consult every opinion, regardless of experience level.
  • Recognize the D, the E and the I: consider how diversity, equity, and inclusion are independently important, but mutually beneficial. 
  • Our goal as professionals is to inspire and be inspired with success, not forging alone but bringing along. As we enter a new year and a new era, we need to think about the people entering this time with us as well. The world as we know it is becoming more diverse and there is no way to stop it, only diversify with it. By developing that DEI mindset, you are already one step into the future of change. We are never too old to learn something new or be reminded of past lessons that can guide us to the right step. It is our responsibility to right wrongs and uncover biases to progress forward on an individual and brand level. By doing so, your business and the employees working for it will thrive.

The day DEI loses its importance is the day we are diverse and inclusive; DEI is the future. We must inspire diversification in not only our industries, but in the world. 


If you want to be the best in the world, you must have the world on your side. 

By: Kennady Armstrong

Lots of people with cell phones taking pictures of models walking down a runway at a fashion show
(Image credit: https://www.popsugar.com/fashion/Social-Media-Effect-Fashion-Week-43165848) Spectators at Fashion Week take videos and pictures of the collection.

Who controls what fashion trends become popular?

Why do the fashion trends move so quickly?

Social media is mainly responsible. 

More specifically, social media influencers create the trends, people use social media to voice their opinions and show what they purchase, and as a result, heavily influence the fashion industry by setting fast paced trends that encourage overconsumption. 

From social media influencers and fashion trends to fast fashion and overconsumption, this blog is dedicated to looking beyond the runway and exploring how social media is driving decision making in the world of fashion.

Influencers create the trends. 

An influencer is a person who can sway their audience to believe, purchase, or do something they encourage. The term influencer has been popularized and associated with the 20th century, however, this concept has existed long before social media’s debut.  

Members of the Royal Family were the first influencers on fashion trends. People would look at what the kings and queens wore to dictate what clothing they would purchase for themselves. People conform to match the rest of society. They would rather blend in with society than to be outcast, which is why they follow trends.

Social media has gained popularity and created platforms for people to see what others are doing, wearing, and buying in a matter of seconds. With the rise of social media, came the rise of social media influencers.

Woman with red turtle neck and white sweater standing outside holding up a small purse
(Image credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/647111040197679165/)
Emma Chamberlain posing in one of her looks.

Take for example, Emma Chamberlain, is a 20 year old Youtuber and influencer. Chamberlain has 11.1 million subscribers on Youtube where she posts fashion hauls, thrift store item finds, vlogs, and other miscellaneous videos. Chamberlain also has a partnership with Louis Vuitton, her own merch, a coffee brand, and various other brand deals. 

For many in the Gen Z target audience, Chamberlain and other influencers like her, dictate trends like the Royals did decades ago. People look to her for inspiration, what to purchase, and guidance on fashion choices. Further illustrating her power, Chamberlain has made scrunchies, yoga pants, Dr. Martens, shoelace belts, multicolored sunglasses, and sweater vests into popular trends that her subscribers and many viewers participate in. Chamberlain has a strong influence on the fashion industry, but she would not have this influence without social media.

Trends move faster. 

Social media causes trends to move faster.

For example, on Tik Tok, a video sharing platform, a trend emerged where people would share what they thought was “cheugy.” “Cheugy” is a slang term coined in 2013 to mockingly describe someone or something as uncool or out of style. 

A blonde woman standing in front of a screenshot of the word "cheugy"
(Image credit: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-9546995/What-cheugy-Inside-viral-new-term-millennials.html)
A Tik Tok user displays the definition of “cheugy” and her examples of what she considers to be “cheugy.”

This social media trend is responsible for people moving on from some trends faster out of fear of social rejection. Seeing other’s opinions on social media can influence others opinions on fashion trends. Many trends die because of social media, shortening their life. 

Users on social media voice their opinions on fashion trends often, creating pressure for people to ditch old trends that are deemed uncool and purchase clothing that is deemed in style by their peers. 

Shopping hauls encourage overconsumption.

As trends die, new trends emerge leading to more consumption. One way this consumption is promoted is by influencers’ promotion of their “hauls.”

What is a “haul?” 

A “haul” refers to videos where people show their followers the items they purchased. These videos are commonly fashion purchases.  

Social media platforms make sharing quick, easy, and visible to a wide audience. Users are able to share their lives, interests, and shopping hauls on platforms like Youtube and Tik Tok. On Tik Tok especially, users will frequently post what they purchased. These videos often gain a lot of attention and likes, which encourages users to film their own “haul” videos and update their wardrobe so they are staying on trend.

Youtuber Sydney Marie shows her haul of over 30 items from fast fashion site Shein.

In the past year, popular fashion influencer Sydney Marie has posted 28 clothing hauls. However, she is not the only person to do this. Many influencers, and non influencers will create and post haul videos on Youtube and Tik Tok. 

These posts encourage overconsumption of clothing, particularly fast fashion in order to stay “on trend.”

Social media encourages people to consume fast fashion.

Trends change quickly. People insult your style calling it “cheugy” or out of style. There is pressure to update your wardrobe often to fit in. 

These social media trends and posts cause people to consume fast fashion

With constant urges to update their closets, people turn to fast fashion because it is affordable and has all of the current trends. Consumers do not need their clothes to be high quality or last long since they know the trend will soon be over and out of style.

Fast fashion sites are infamous for their quick turnaround of creating knock offs of celebrity or catwalk looks. These brands are able to make affordable versions of trending expensive pieces, and do so with a quick turnaround.

Fashion Nova, a fast fashion company, created a “knock off” romper just days after influencer Kylie Jenner was seen wearing her custom birthday outfit.

While this is not illegal, people argue this is unethical and unsustainable

The rise of fast fashion was mainly caused by social media and it has forever changed the fashion industry. Social media encourages overconsumption and many people can only afford fast fashion to stay on top of the fast paced trends. They know the clothes do not have to be the best quality because it will not need to last more than a couple months to a year. 

Through social media, more people have learned about fast fashion sites, such as Shein, and the attractive price points. 

However, with people learning the benefits of fast fashion sites, people also learn about the drawbacks. There has been a push for sustainable and ethical fashion. But oftentimes, users will receive backlash in their comment sections for posting about how fast fashion is unethical. Users argue that it is “classist” and privileged to assume everyone can afford sustainable and ethical fashion. As a result, social media has made fast fashion more popular than ever. 

Social media has greatly impacted the fashion world, both negatively and positively. Social media has changed the way the fashion industry works, mostly benefiting fast fashion companies. 

Without social media, consumers would not be able to influence the fashion industry this severely. Trends would last seasons instead of weeks, fast fashion would not be as popular, overconsumption would be less of an issue. Social media has not solely caused all of these changes in the fashion industry. However, it has sped up the pace of these changes and raised popularity. Social media is powerful, influential, and in control of the fashion industry.

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