Skip to main content

Strong and Weak Ties in Social Media Advertising

At its inception, social media was a way for friends and family to connect online. Now, it is becoming increasingly common for users to interact with people with whom they have either weak ties or no ties. The shift is becoming increasingly relevant for advertisers who rely on social media to increase brand awareness and reach out to potential customers.


Advertising executive James Cole states that, “When Instagram started, it was a place you looked at images posted by your friends or other people you trusted.” However, as Instagram has grown, the strength of ties between users and the accounts they follow has been diminishing.


Ipsy, which was among the first companies that successfully worked with social media influencers to market their products, pays social media influencers to be associated with their brand. However, as advertising with social media influencers becomes increasingly popular, the effectiveness of this marketing tactic has decreased. Marcelo Camberos, Ipsy’s chief executive, notes that users’ trust in influencers has decreased (the ties between users and influencers have gone from strong ties to weak ties), harming the companies who rely on marketing with social media influencers.


Further eroding the impact of advertising through social media influencers is the fact that influencers often buy followers to create the illusion of having a wider network (and thereby higher ability to reach out to and influence people). A Good Company, an online retailer, sent out an anonymous survey to its influencers. The survey found that almost two-thirds of its influencers had paid for likes, comments, or followers. Overstating the strength and size of their networks causes companies to misevaluate the effectiveness of collaborating with these social media influencers.


As the relationship between users and influencer diminishes from a strong to weak tie (or even no tie), the users are less likely to be swayed by sponsored posts. The impact that the strength of relationship ties have on marketing and advertising reveals the importance of strategically evaluating the strength of the tie between the person paid to promote a brand or company and the network of people they can actually reach and influence.


Leave a Reply

Blogging Calendar

October 2019