The world is getting smaller. It is now more accessible and familiar to everybody: it has become a ‘global village’. Global village theory has been impacting the way that businesses view their connections to consumers for over 50 years, and with the continuing rise of social media influencers, the relationship a brand has to its global audience continues to evolve.
What is ‘global village’ theory?
Marshall McLuhan coined the term ‘global village’ in 1964 to describe the phenomenon of the world’s culture simultaneously expanding and shrinking as a result of technological advances. These allow for an instantaneous sharing of cultures, ideas and products in a way which could not have taken place otherwise. This means that the business world has gone global, and can interact across thousands of miles instantaneously. Additionally, air travel advances mean that business interactions can take place face to face in many different locations.
McLuhan contrasted global village theory with what he called the ‘book world’ that we were leaving behind, using the phrase ‘with it’ to illustrate what he meant. In the book world, people’s opinions were isolated and largely unknown. In the media age, on the other hand, we are all ‘with it’ because new media powers have made the world into the single unit. In the movement out of print culture, we have become concerned with what the group knows and what the group is doing.
There was backlash against this conception of commerce and business, as globalisation was dubbed as a form of cultural imperialism,creating hegemony. Global brands were seen as taking standardisation of advertising so far that they lost their sensitivity to individual markets.
However, if maintained with an understanding of social and cultural differences (including language), global village theory remains a useful way of interpreting the social and economic interdependence of different countries.
The changing world
In the 54 years since McLuhan introduced the idea, our view of the world has dramatically changed. We now live in a world of electronic interdependence, with more information available to more people.
Recently, social media has become an increasingly important part of this globalising society. Social media provides a context in which people across the world can communicate, exchange messages and share knowledge, regardless of the distance that separates them. Social media encourages dialogues and increases our understanding of different opinions and perspectives.
Equally importantly is the use of social media for community interactions. People engage in an inter-cultural dialogue with their own peers, families and friends, as well as with people they may never have otherwise had the opportunity to connect with. Social media links people through their knowledge, interests, and a sense of belonging to a global community of like-minded people. According to a study by Statista, which tracked social media usage from 2010, it is predicted that there will be 2.95 billion active social media users.
This is where influencers come in, fostering niches of this global community.
In the global village, what is an influencer?
As a result of widespread internet access, a huge percentage of people now have the ability to broadcast their lives and opinions from their smartphones. Social media influencers can leverage the power of this connectivity to generate an engaged online following in a particular area of expertise or interest. Influencers move beyond successfully entertaining their niche, towards becoming a fully fledged brand.
Influencers, particularly micro-influencers, who create content geared towards a specific nice, unite people across boundaries of personal affiliation. For example, Instagram influencers in the health and wellbeing genre will demonstrate their lives ‘as lived’. They post pictures, stories and comments showing they ways they incorporate their passion for wellbeing into their everyday lives, and this may include showcasing products and brands which they enjoy. This is in order that their audience, predominantly already seeking to learn more about the niche, will see the lifestyle as accessible and emulatable. The investment of interest of the audience into the knowledgeability of the influencer gives influencers the power to affect the purchasing decisions of the community through collaborative relationships with other brands.
We’ve talked more about what defines an influencer elsewhere on our blog: give it a read if you’d like to learn more.
What is their role in the global village?
The bulk of social influencer marketing todays occurs in social media such as Instagram, because bloggers and influencers on these platforms have the most authentic and active relationships with their audience. Influencers appropriate and mobilise connections: their responsiveness to people across the globe constitutes a form of bridge building between different cultures and ethnographies.
The intimacy between an influencer and their audience can be curated as long as followers feel familiar with, and emotionally attached to, influencers. The community feeling this generates is an imprint of how small communities would have privileged brands and products through localised word of mouth marketing. In the age of the global village, however, the influencer’s power extrapolates this to a much larger scale.
A combination of the impact of online and digital technology with the enterprising connectivity of social media gives influencers the power to create connections across the global village. These links can then be used in business strategy, to promote brands, products, or venues within the luxury hospitality industry.
If you’re an influencer with global connections, interested in collaboration opportunities, check out how you can promote your favourite leisure businesses here. If you are part of a leisure business wishing to connect to audiences across the global village, get in contact here.
By Shannon Collins