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‘Money-Making Media’: Making a Case for a fifth and Current Phase of Participatory Culture

Updated: Jan 13, 2019

The concept of the Four Phases of Participatory Culture was first defined by Delwiche and Jacobs Henderson in 2013, and describes the eras of this culture from its birth in 1985, to around the time this concept . These phases include Emergence, from 1985-1993, Waking up to the web, from 1994-1998, Push-button Publishing, from 1999-2004, and Ubiquitous Connections, from 2005-2011. I have been encouraged to come up with a fifth phase for defining the present day, to be in keeping with the other phases of the culture.

The idea I’d like to present for this fifth phase is the ‘Money-Making Media’.

The name comments on the nature of present day social media platforms, which are continuously evolving to accommodate commercialisation, particularly through ad posts from social media. Whilst the second phase of participatory culture, ‘push-button publication’ comments on social media as a means for the average individual to contribute to this culture, my current current phase concept is more implicative of social media as a means for businesses, brands and companies to push their products onto other users. Social media marketing has evolved from a somewhat unconventional technique, to one of the most influential digital marketing tactics, and sites such as Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat and Facebook are now so heavily saturated with advertisements and sponsored promotions, that creating content for these sites as an 'influencer' can be highly lucrative profession.

This shift can most likely be credited to the exponential growth of social media users from the previous phase, with the number of worldwide social media users worldwide rising from 0.97 billion in 2011, and said to rise to 2.72 billion at the start of 2019. As a result of this companies are adapting their marketing strategies to acknowledge this expansion and keep on top of current trends from one of their main sources.

However, whilst for brands and businesses, social media marketing enables a far greater reach on potential consumers and, for the consumer, trends and products that would likely appeal to them are far more accessible, there are downsides to this phase. Excessiveness in product-pushing from celebrities and trusted influencers has brought increasing controversy, due to their endorsement of products, such as weight-loss pills and detox-teas that can be harmful to the mental health of to their often young and impressionable audiences.


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