Understanding the legitimation efforts and persuasion tactics of food bloggers

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: The understanding of WOM has greatly developed due to the growth of Internet meaning that the traditional WOM theories are no longer valid in an environment where information flows freely between consumers and in which communication is based on relationships. As bloggers gain more power and are increasingly involved in sponsored WOMM campaigns they face similar pressures as Public Relation practitioners: at the same time they need to act as convincing persuaders and advocates of the product as well as remain their status as an objective reporter (Barney & Black, 1994). The aim of this study is to shed light on Word-of-Mouth literature and on how bloggers are legitimating themselves through persuasion in the context of WOMM campaigns. I examine how Food bloggers communicate WOMM campaigns and more precisely the process of how they gain legitimacy through their persuasive actions. METHODOLOGY: The study is qualitative and interpretive in nature and uses netnography as a data collection meth-od. Rhetoric discourse analysis is used to analyze the data gathered from food blogs that are listed amongst the 100 top food blogs in Finland. FINDINGS: This study develops a new framework for understanding WOM and sheds light on the persuasion tactics used by bloggers in their legitimation efforts. My findings suggest that it is not only the marketers who have direct influence on the bloggers but that the bloggers are equally influencing marketers when participating in WOM campaigns. My study also reveals three legitimative dis-courses, Authenticity, Authority and Affinity, through which the bloggers strengthen their position in the eyes of their audience, reaching a position in which they can act without questioning. These discourses are further strengthened through the use of 9 different rhetoric tactics that arise from the legitimation strategies.
legitimation, word-of-mouth, word-of-mouth marketing, rhetorics, discourse analysis, blog, blogger, persuasion, marketing, marketing communication
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