#lifeisgood: Understanding Social Currency in the Female Commercial Blog Industry in Singapore

Commercial bloggers in Singapore, predominantly self-taught young women who weave advertorials and advertisements into personal blog entries, have proliferated and have been making good money. In essence, they are selling a lifestyle to their readers, seemingly attainable through the goods and services marketed. As an effective means of youth advertising for local and international corporations, commercial blogging is becoming a professional industry with blog talent agencies and managers surfacing in recent years.

Apart from the goods and money circulated, commercial bloggers seem to depend and trade on ‘social currency’, that is, their virtual world reputation taken as a unit of trade in the commercial blog industry. On the surface, the number of ‘Likes’, ‘Follows’, ‘ReTweets’, ‘Favourites’, ‘Friends’ and ‘Readers’ that these bloggers boast on their blogs and various social media accounts measure this. Whereas business and marketing research have examined the impact of such ‘social currency’ in terms of numbers and audience reach, this paper focuses on the bloggers’ individual construction and circulation of this form of social capital.

Within a Singaporean context situated in the mid-2000s to mid-2010s, this paper traces the manufacturing of social currency by deconstructing female commercial bloggers’ readership and analysing their digital dissemination of content. It argues that it is the translation of ‘material embodiment’ in the physical world to ‘material presence’ on the web that allows these women’s social currency to travel as a unit of taste in encouraging conspicuous consumption. This occurs when the women’s appearance, dress, and possessions are digitally archived and broadcasted on their social media feeds, thereby inciting desire and envy among a mass audience. Finally, hinging on their brand image as online micro-celebrities and capitalising on the mass audience’s admiration and aspiration to emulate them through advertorials, I trace commercial bloggers’ circulation of social currency across interfaces, geographies, images, persons, and values.

Abidin, C. (2013) “#lifeisgood: Understanding social currency in the female commercial blog industry in Singapore” CCI Winter School 2013, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. Jun 24 – 28, 2013.

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