Thursday, November 21, 2013

How did female bloggers get famous in Singapore?

When I was in secondary school, I used to follow a few 'bloggers' from time to time. It was the era of neopets, battle-on (yes, omg why?), habbo hotel, livejournal and friendster...why did I even sign myself up on any of these...? HAHA! Quite embarrassing, really. But through the gossiping natured of my girlie classmates, I came to know 'xiaxue' and 'ohsofickled'. It was also that time when my class started to open their own blogger account, so having a blog was very new... PLUS FANCY BLOGSKINS! Damn, those were the days when you could spend 4 hours (this also shows what a terrible student I was. )just decided on what sort of blogskin/html you want. Being able to customize, that sort of thing, really bites onto young people because you have the 'freedom' to choose.

So, I opened my first blog (omfg, the url...the coding...the content, it's so embarrassing but can't believe it's still floating around the internet) as well, because it was trendy and being a 13 year old, you naturally want to tag along.

Oh yes, so I used to follow up with ohsofickled's and xiaxue's content once in a while. And from the perspective of a secondary school teen, I was definitely impressed by the fact that they had so many followers! 'I want some of that!' but how? Why the fuck is people interested in following these girls, and to be honest it wasn't like they are experiencing anything different. They were the same as me; Singaporean, home grown, cultivated in a boring neighborhood-style environment.

I was reading this book about the realities of marketing ('Get Real' by Eliane Glaser) yesterday. Completed the first chapter and somehow it sparked off this train of thoughts about recent marketing strategies via the internet. I ended up writing a few pages worth of notes about my 'theory' on how PR/marketing use well known bloggers and social media to sell their services and products. But first, how do someone so normal and typical, managed to get amplified and receive so much traffic into their content?

1. They exposed (I'm not sure this is a good word to put it that way but...) themselves
In the beginning (there's always a beginning for everything), there weren't a lot of people (in Singapore, and in the perspective of a local Singaporean) who documented their lives and put it into the internet, but they did! Reading the old entries of both 'xiaxue' and 'ohsofickled', they didn't really have very valuable content. Mostly, just daily life experiences (the more fun you had, the better...or the completely opposite, complain how bad your experience whilst at a store, amusement park, whatever) and their opinions about it; 'I went to cineleisure todayyyyyy' or 'I met a pervert on the bus today!'. Of course, I felt xiaxue's writing is indeed very funny, her figure of speech sometimes can be very witty as well. So naturally as a viewer, I would return just to nose around what she's been up to.

Basicially, we know quite alot about them (and would like to bug into their lives even more, I believe), and it's sort of equivalent to a story that you could carry on with. Like...a drama series, you know?

Not to mention how easy it is to follow up; the internet is magic!

2. They managed to be the pioneer of some sort
While xiaxue was the first few Singaporeans who began blogging, ohsofickled managed to set up her own online store. Online stores, or blogshops as we call it in Singapore, weren't as common as it is today. And also the fact that she was a recent secondary school graduate, and kick started her 'career', was probably something too.

With new blogshops (more home based service, rather than commercialized franchise) springing out all the time, another generation of 'models' also appear. Other than the fact that the clothes were marketed to teenage girls, the founders/owners of these blogshops are generally young girls (or guys) themselves, so budget might also be a factor. Thus, modeling their clothes or hiring their peers would be a better solution. Blogshops models could be anyone, as long as you fit the clothes, you are all good!

Perhaps, that is how 'euniceannabel' and 'rchlwngx' became well known, too.

Why can't I be one too?

We all aspire to be someone sucessful, and it just seem so easy how this bloggers managed to do it (probably thats how their haters come about). Pretty, having sponsored beauty products and services and always having fun! Therefore, it isn't a surprise that so many young girls look up to them, feeding them traffic and making them even more well known in the internet.

So, what do you gain?

Unfortunately, half the time the content from these blogs are advertorials (more blogshop clothes, free beauty services and the plastic surgeries sponsors) which is all about trying to get these girls to buy into. Majority of the content are about promoting services and the never ending cycle of marketing the third party's products.

The worst situation is that aspiring readers who follow up with these bloggers might buy into the wrong kind of 'products'– narcissism and insecurities (taking a trillion photos of themselves and publishing on the internet. strangers dishing out compliments to feed their low esteem..'someone needs to approve how i look in order to actually feel good'), the idea of 'I look pretty so I can do what I want'. As well as the recent popular 'enhanced beauty' services, young readers might have the mistaken conception that looking good is all that matters.

I'd been in these situation before. A few years back I thought that, 'wow, she looks so pretty and everyone knows her!' I probably have to look this good to in order to feel good. And I was insecure about my looks and body. Definitely. Although I must add, the media plays the biggest role into manipulating and controlling the 'standard of beauty' (just look at the recent Kpop culture!!!)

Fortunately, not everyone would feel this way and I am sure there are many sensible readers who would stand firm in their beliefs and these blogs are only an outlet of procrastination or source of entertainment (LOOK AT HER PLASTIC SURGERY TRANSFORMATION WOWZER...on second thoughts, im glad to be au natural...kinda...sometimes with makeup).

Yes, physical appeal do aid in becoming successful but on the long run it isnt a factor that would make it legendary sort. Let's take Megan Fox for that example.

One of the biggest marketing ploy today is feeding into the target audience's dreams and goals. They make use of this to manipulate you into getting something that you think could help in achieving your dreams. Let's not even go into beauty products (whitening, slimming etc)....but something less flashy, like self help books. Come on, do you really need to buy that 'How to be the happiest man on earth' book (that cost $19.99...that's four fucking plates of chicken rice)?

Originally, you follow up with these bloggers because you are bored, purely for entertainment or that sort. But you end up being fooled into getting things you don't really need. And previously mentioned, you might also be manipulated into believing the wrong conceptions (of many things, eg beauty, happiness, anger management and all kinds of stuff). It's the same for Youtube, Facebook, Twitter as well.

I guess the point I have to make in this post is that, MARKETING IS SO DAMN SCARY. Literally, mind fuck. Also the fact that I am working in the design industry, marketing is the dealer and the consumers are on the losing bet. And being a young woman, I feel violated (and sometimes even vulnerable), confused at what is even real anymore. It is frightening, but it is not the end of the world (or perhaps it is, with increasing consumerism> garbage> environmental issues>earth dying> EARTH DIES> WE ALL DIE> zombies? aliens?'s getting out of the world :P), we just have to be conscious and always asking yourself, 'is that what I really need?', 'is that what I should believe in?'.

Marketing is unavoidable and will always be with you everywhere. As long as there are people, it will be there...kind of like a shadow!!! can choose to be afraid or not (okay bad choice of metaphor, but you get my point).

And I realised now that this post isnt really talking about what the title suggests anymore. ALAS, I shall leave now and do some online shopping on amazon (i NEED to get a new water bottle cause i lost my old one! :((((  ) IRONYYYY.

Till then. x

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