Social ImpactTheory by Latane (1981) is a social psychology theory which is employed in thisstudy to explain the effect of influencers in changing women’s beliefs.
Severalstudies proved that social media applications are subject to this theory(Kwahk, & Ge, 2012; Mir & Zaheer, 2012; Perez Vega, Waite ‘Gorman, 2016). It is an appropriate theory for understanding how companiesexploited influencers to increase their profits. According to the theory, “whenother people are the source of impact and the individual is the target, impactshould be a multiplicative function of the strength, immediacy, and number ofother people” (Latane ,1981, p. 343).
To illustrate, three components make upthe Social Impact Theory: strength, which questions how powerful is theinfluencing group comparing to the target group; immediacy, examines theability of influencing group and the target group to contact each other at anytime; number, questions the number of people in the influencing group. Powerfulindividuals are causing social impact because they can persuade people tochange their perceptions, emotions, beliefs and behaviors (Latane ,1981, p.343). Although influencers are few and people are the majority, the strength ofthese influencers defeat the number of people. As figure 1 illustrated, peoplebecame a small circle compared to the circles of the influencers. The result isthat people will start unconsciously to join the influencer’s ingroup circle,and make it more bigger and more powerful. Thus, the influencers’ ideologybecame naturalized and even common sense. On the other hand, the people’soutgroup circle will diminish gradually.
Snapchat application had become a fertileground for cosmetics advertisements. Users of this application are allowed toexchange photos and videos called “snaps”. A photo or a video couldbe viewed for 10 seconds or less before it disappears from the device, unlessthe video is uploaded on the story page, where the followers can view it for 24hours.
Social Impact Theory Recently,women became obsessed with their appearance due to the emphasis of women’simage in different media channels (Lupinetti, 2015, p.38). Cranny-Francis,Waring, Stavropoulos and Kirkby (2003) claimed that female image is seen in allforms of media showing us what a beautiful woman is, and providing instructionon how to become pretty. This means that advertisements construct identities,attitude and change ideologies about women’s image (Cook, 2001). They do notonly sell to consumers, but change a society ideology about beauty in order tomake people buy unnecessary things (Eagle, 2000, p.122-123). These ideologiesand beliefs are spread and naturalized through powerful people until theideology became a common sense (Fairclough 1985, p.
739). In local context,cosmetics advertisements are employing the dominant influencers in Snapchat toemphasize the importance of beauty. The contents presented, tend to affectpeople’s decisions and beliefs. This phenomenon is explained by referring it toa social psychology theory called Social Impact Theory (1981).II. Literature Review The aim ofthis paper was to shed light on how invisible ideologies in the discourse ofSnapchat advertisements shaped the ideas of the women in Saudi Arabia. Thisstudy addressed the following research question: 1) What are the textual,social and discursive techniques employed in the advertisement of beautyproducts to manipulate women in Snapchat? 2) How does these techniquescontribute in affecting women idealized image? The findings of this researchwould contribute further to the field. Also, the significance of this study isthat it draws attention to such ideologies implied in social mediaadvertisements.
Purpose of the studyThrough decades advertisements have played a significantrole in building the ideal image of women through different sorts of media.Thus, the study of advertisements from critical discourse analysis CDAperspective has received considerable attention, to understand how ideologieshidden in the advertisements construct the individual’s beliefs, and shapepeople’s realization of the world (Iqbal, Danish, & Tahir, 2014). In SaudiArabia, the ideal image of women has been extensively emphasized by cosmeticsadvertisements, especially after the emergence of the social media application,Snapchat. This application has increasingly spreads between women in SaudiArabia (“Most snapchat users are women”, 2017). Thus, cosmetics companiesexploit this application to spread their values, ideologies and beliefs inorder to increase their profits, and make women buy a style of life as well asa product (Kaur, Arumugam & Yunus, 2013).
This is done through employingSnapchat influencers to present their products and attract consumers. In theseadvertisements, the influencers use their dominance to stereotype the idealwomen. They do that by employing image and language to manipulate Saudi women’sbeliefs and make them think that the ideal image is to apply many beautyproducts and use set of professional brushes.
Consequently, Saudi Arabia becameone of the biggest cosmetics markets in the region (Al-Fawaz, 2016). This mightlead to repercussion at different levels; thus, studies that investigates thisphenomenon is required. However, up to the researcher’s knowledge, few or nostudies have been conducted in investigating the social media advertisements inthe Saudi context from a critical discourse analysis perspective. Also, most ofthe international studies on advertisements’ discourse analysis are conductedto analyze how images are used to manipulate consumers, while the textual aspectis somehow underestimated (Alperstein, 2015; Davies, 2016; Featherstone, 2010;McCabe, Malefyt & Caleidoscopio,2017; Wagner, Aguirre & Sumner, 2016).This is justified to an extent since the image is much more powerful than theword; however, in Saudi Arabia the situation is partly different.
Due to theconservative of the society, women are advertising in Snapchat through textsand not using their body image. Thus, this study examines the use of languagein Snapchat cosmetics advertisements from critical discourse analysis (CDA)perspective. CDA have been employed because it helps to improve and change thelives of ordinary people by making the relationships of power that “oppress anddiminish” more transparent (McKenna, 2004, p.
21). Also, to raise the awarenessof these hidden ideologies which become at the end naturalized (Fairclough,1985, p. 739).