LOST IN THE ETHER: THE IMPACT OF PLATFORM HEGEMONY ON SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Keywords:power dynamics, marketing, relationships, disenfranchisement
AbstractIn post-modern society, the pervasion of social media by business interests is immutable. From benign beginnings as peer-to-peer networking sites, social media has attracted the attention of commercial actors intent on exploiting the media’s propensity to reach large audiences quickly and cheaply. Organically based campaigns saw small firms gain access to large audiences on a previously unthinkable scale. However, the business model monetisation strategies of legacy platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have redefined the intrinsic role of these platforms beyond simple network carriage providers. Together with algorithmic changes designed to filter out unpaid content, a profound effect on equity of access to audiences has been felt by companies marketing via these channels. In particular, the communications efforts of small organisations with limited resources, have been substantially diminished, together with their visibility, under the user-pays regime. This paper examines the distribution of power in commercialised social media ecosystems. The research maps significant shifts in relational dynamics to reveal an increasingly dichotomous system of haves and have nots among companies operating in this environment. Using a resource and stakeholder theory lens, in-depth interviews were conducted with 17 social media marketing practitioners in the UK and Australia and analysed using a grounded theory approach. The findings reveal a form of neo-colonial gatekeeping based on increased platform hegemony. The new social media hierarchy was found to diminish diversity and perpetuate an increasingly unbalanced economic system. The research implications are discussed in the context of disenfranchised small enterprises.
How to Cite
Cooper, T. (2023). LOST IN THE ETHER: THE IMPACT OF PLATFORM HEGEMONY ON SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2022. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2022i0.12991