Me, my brands and I - Self-presentation through brand-related UGC
School of Business | Master's thesis
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AbstractObjective of the study The aim of the research is to investigate how consumers tell stories about creating visual brand-related user-generated content (UGC) to identify themes that appear most comprehensive and most revealing for explaining the individual and collective experiences. First objective is to explore in-depth how consumers engage in this process of creating brand-related UGC in order to gain a better understanding of the concept of UGC itself in terms of consumer research. Second, the objective is to study how creating visual brand-related content and sharing it on social media plays a role in individual's identity construction and self-presentation. Research method This research is qualitative and adopts the narrative paradigm, as it allows forming an intimate and unique understanding of consumers' personal experiences. The research seeks to extend the existing research on self-presentation in nonymous (the opposite of "anonymous") online environments; therefore it examines identity construction on social photo-sharing network Instagram. The data was collected thought narrative interviews of eight participants, with total of 32 stories. The data was then analyzed by using analysis of narratives to identify commonalties and themes that exist and appear most comprehensive and most revealing for explaining the individual and collective experiences of creating visual brand-related UGC. Findings The data revealed multiple motivations why consumers produce brand-related photos to Instagram that were categorized to five broader themes: 1) Entertainment, 2) Documentation 3) Social interaction 4) Empowerment 5) Identity. Consumers may have simultaneously multiple motivations and the motivations may change through out the process. The consumers evaluate their motivations and possible outcomes and make a decision whether to move on to the next stage of the process of creating brand-related photos: 1) Initial impetus 2) Creating the photo 3) Sharing the photo 4) Social interaction 5) Leave it or remove it. These steps do not necessary follow in this certain order and can jump from one to another forwards and backwards. Through the photos, consumers intended to communicate and tell something about who they are; what matters to them; and, how they want others to perceive them. The research identified six self-presentation strategies that were used to when presenting self through creating and sharing brand-related photos to Instagram: 1) Culture, Rules and Norms 2) Publicity vs. Privacy 3) Constructing Digital Self 4) Digital Association 5) Real Self vs. Ideal Self 6) Narrative Memory. In conclusion, the research introduces a model (Figure 1, p 45) that combines the process, the motivational drivers and the self-presentation strategy as illustration of the process of producing brand-related photos to Instagram as mean for self-presentation.
user-generated content, UGC, brand-related, identity construction, self-presentation, photo, social media, Instagram