Researching microcelebrity: Methods, access and labour | Mavroudis | First Monday
Date: Subject terms: Instagram, Social media, Instagram marketing,. Micro- marketing tool for building brand awareness and brand recognition, as well as for secondary data about Instagram, micro-celebrities, celebrity endorsement, and gym The chapter concludes with a short summary of the whole. SUMMARY OF WHAT WE'LL COVER THIS WEEK: Senft, Theresa () Microcelebrity and the Branded Self. planetaokon.info Jan 6, CrossRef citations to date Camgirls: Celebrity and Community in the Age of Social Networks, Self-branding, 'micro-celebrity' and the rise of Social Media Influencers Overview · Open journals · Open Select · Cogent OA.
Making productive critical inroads to define microcelebrity is the work of Crystal Abidin. In particular, Abidin argues that we need a more nuanced nomenclature to capture the full range of structures, practices and platforms enabling this media form.
This latter term is an industry concept that Abidin suggests predates Internet culture and functions as an important aspect of microcelebrity. Abidin b defines an influencer as: What remains unsettled in the literature, however, is how adequately to define the boundaries which mark off microcelebrity from mainstream celebrity and the function of followers within this process. We now turn to consider these aspects.
Celebrities and followers A major focus in recent research is the relation between traditional celebrity and microcelebrity together with the role played by followers or fans. Many studies have grappled with the ways in which microcelebrity is changing the nature of what, hitherto, has functioned as the traditional understanding of celebrity.
Moreover, contemporary celebrities are now employing the same discursive strategies and material practices deployed by the wider public in their everyday social media lives. Nevertheless, they warn about applying overly simplified theorisations of the egalitarian power of social media in the construction of identity online.
Using discourse analysis and a case study framework, their investigation examines the exchanges between celebrities and their publics by downloading the feeds of the most popular Twitter accounts of These profiles included actors, musicians and politicians as well as media organisations.
Marwick and boyd then tweeted at some of these accounts to record the resulting correspondence and tracked the interactions between celebrities and their followers. One of the methodological issues grappled with was how to verify the authorship of these celebrity accounts. Because their paper was written before the Twitter verification tick was in widespread use, they needed to rely on other measures and criteria such as the use of first person, the prevalence of grammatical error and whether tweets were clearly sent by a PR team manager or assistant.
Framing her investigation is the recognition that neoliberalism creates particular kinds of social media subjects produced through a desire for fame. To boost social status, young professionals adopt self-consciously constructed personas and market themselves, like brands or celebrities, to an audience or fan base. This aspect chimes with our initial findings and is discussed below in relation to the interviews conducted by Jonathan.
For these authors, crowd generated intensity provides a better critical frame through which to understand new modes of participatory culture and burgeoning visibilities than those drawing on the curation of a personal brand. Instead, they argue that value is created by the affective power of crowds seen through the mobilisation of trending Twitter hashtags.
Their method involved a data set oftweets gathered between May to June of which included Directioner based retweets, mentions, hashtags and highly popular user profiles. While this work is productive for drawing out how microcelebrity is generated by collectivist, peer to peer logics, the relational aspect between followers and their affective objects of desire is underplayed.
Retaining Twitter as the methodological site, Bethany Usher is also interested in the interactions between celebrities and their publics.
In particular, she argues the traditional press interview functions as a precursor to contemporary patterns of engagement because it provides linguistic and thematic strategies to enhance the celebrity brand.
In her study Usher analysed the last 3, tweets of the top 20 celebrity Twitter accounts, measured by number of followers, during June However, she argues that this dialectic seems heavily weighted to favour the celebrity. Although these fan-interviewers play an active co-constitutive part in the construction of celebrity persona, according to Usher, their cultural capital remains tethered to and dependent on their ties with the celebrity.
Yasmin is herself something of a microcelebrity with nearly 30, followers on Twitter. Her account is called MinieKardashian which she curates with news and images devoted to the Kardashian family. Discussing the relation between Yasmin and the Kardashians, Usher finds that any leverage Yasmin gains from her proximity to the family is provisional. We are not so convinced of the sharp distinction to be made here.
Evaluating the contours of the celebrity-follower relation is a central task for future research. Moreover, persona studies shifts the conceptual lens from a collectivist model at work in typical audience studies to one that is firmly focussed on individual agency.
In order to carry out these research aims, the authors introduce a number of methods including discourse analysis, interviews, social network analysis and data visualisation [ 14 ]. In relation to these methods, Barbour conducted in-depth, semi structured interviews with a group of fringe artists in order to understand how their personae are constructed through a matrix of online presentational strategies.
Week Two: Branding & Celebrity
Informing the interviews she used a phenomenologically inflected approach which uncovers how profiles are interpreted and encountered across a broad range of spaces and practices. Whether artists can be defined as microcelebrities is not overtly discussed by the authors but their methods present fruitful avenues for further work. As Marshall, Moore and Barbour note, investigating the microcelebrities themselves is an under researched area and is one which our present project addresses [ 15 ].
Summary of the existing literature The purpose of this brief literature review was to demonstrate the breadth of definitions framing the research of microcelebrity. In particular, we highlighted the different approaches to the relations between microcelebrity, traditional celebrity and their publics or followers.
Debates emerge as to what kind of leverage may open up to the fan and how to understand the definitional limits of microcelebrity. In terms of methods employed, generally speaking, the study of microcelebrity has predominantly utilised discourse analysis and social media analytics. While interviews are utilised broadly these have not been directed substantially at the microcelebrities themselves. This means the various claims made in the literature about how microcelebrity identity is produced could be investigated by raising these topics with the microcelebrities.
Also relevant here is the issue of labour. As discussed above and explored in our initial findings, performing online, crafting a consumable image requires work. Moreover, followers seem able to demand this form of product.
Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy | Public Culture | Duke University Press
To some degree, this is in contrast with the existing studies which suggest the follower exerts little power over the microcelebrity. To explore the implications of the literature, we now outline our research project which seeks to extend the field of microcelebrity by talking to some high profile Instagram users directly about their experiences of internet fame.
We argue the issue of access is a challenging aspect that has not been considered in detail. To explain the project, we discuss methods and reflect upon the utility of autoethnography. Life as a microcelebrity: Methods and scope As mentioned, this paper is reporting on the early findings of a project researching the untold stories of those living their online lives as microcelebrities from their own perspective. The focus of this paper, however, is on the research methods being employed to study the microcelebrity sample which has proven to be a difficult and intricate process, with access being the largest hurdle.
In the following sections we reflect on our methodological approach while Jonathan describes his journey, from his perspective, as both an Instagram microcelebrity and Instagram researcher.
Before beginning this project he predicted that the best way to understand the insta-famous would be to completely immerse himself within their world. He knew that he would not be able to interact with them on a meaningful, honest level unless he became one of them. After several failed attempts to interact with various microcelebrities, Jonathan realised that they seem only to respond to other microcelebrities.
At this point, he had an Instagram account with approximately followers. With this goal in mind, he begun to understand the culture of the platform and learnt what he would need to do to gain status and ultimately achieve insta-fame. He created a consumable depiction of himself that resembled those used by popular microcelebrities.
It quickly became an obsession. By the time Jonathan reached over 10, followers it had become an integral part of his life and identity and as predicted, he received the attention of the microcelebrities he had been trying to contact. The self presentation techniques he used and continues to use as well as the impact it has on his offline life is a story for a future paper, what we focus on now is how Jonathan gained and continues to gain access to the microcelebrities being studied in this project.
A qualitative, visual ethnographic approach was undertaken as this research is interested in understanding the microcelebrities experiences in online spaces from their point of view. Semi-structured one-on-one interviews along with participant observations of both their off-line behaviours and their online activities were conducted. In conjunction with the ethnographic fieldwork an autoethnography is being conducted which is explained below.
Recruiting the microcelebrities Participants aged 18 to 30 who had a public Instagram account with a significant following over 10, followers were contacted through the site.
Accessing these microcelebrities required insider status as often the only way to get in contact with them is through direct message DM through the site. Users only receive a DM notification when the message is sent by a user that they follow. Possessing a microcelebrity status enabled Jonathan to attract the attention of prominent microcelebrities such as Aaron Rhodes, who could be messaged once he followed Jonathan back.
Through DM, the research interests were then discussed. Once the subjects showed interest in the research they were briefly advised about the nature of the project. They were told that Jonathan was interested in how fame and microcelebrity is experienced through visual social media and how this may affect identity formation in young people. They were asked to contact Jonathan on his Swinburne University e-mail if they thought they might be interested in participating. Once contact was made, participants received an information form and a consent form via e-mail.
We then negotiated a suitable interview time and location. At the time of the interview participants were given the option to remain anonymous in publication or choose for their actual names to be used. So far Jonathan has made contact with 15 prominent microcelebrities.
On his first research trip to Los Angeles in July he interviewed three: Aaron RhodesfollowersMichael Turchinfollowers and Patrick Belaga 14, followers. All three chose that their actual names be used in publication.
Interview time and locations are currently being negotiated with the remaining twelve microcelebrities. Procedure Interviews with the microcelebrities were semi-structured.
All interviews were conducted in a quiet hotel lounge in West Hollywood, California. Each interview was digitally voice recorded. Interviews took approximately one hour and were then transcribed so that the manuscripts could be manually coded using thematic analysis within a constructivist framework. All transcripts were coded according to key themes that are emerging through the research process.
Since the initial three microcelebrities granted permission for Jonathan to analyse their Instagram content, online ethnographic observation of the material the participants publicly post has been undertaken. Jonathan observes their photos and videos, taking screenshots and keeping notes of what they are doing online to complement the data collected from interviews.
Conducting fieldwork of this nature allows the researcher to experience the lived realities within a particular social context Wolf, by exploring the world of the people the ethnographer wants to learn from Liamputtong, Instagram Instagram is a mobile application available for the iOS and Android mobile operating systems.
As a result, the vast majority of activity goes on through the mobile app. Because Instagram photos are typically taken via mobile phone, they tend toward the documentary, since mobile phones are continually present as users go about their day-to-day lives.
The presumption is that users will post photos as they happen, as indicated by the hashtag latergram, which implies that the photo was taken earlier than it was posted. However, while Facebook and Twitter encourage constant streams of updates, Instagram requires more selective posting. Most users post only a few times a day, and posting several times in a row is disfavored.
Following on Instagram is unidirectional; unlike Facebook, a user may follow another without permission, and, like Twitter, there is generally no mutual expectation of following. As on Twitter, hashtags are frequently appended to photos and are not necessarily descriptive, and while hashtags may be used as metadata indicating location, subject of photo, etc.
The most popular Instagram tags in September were love, instagood, me, cute, and follow Webstagram Photographs are especially good for impression management, since the myth of photographic truth lends photography a credibility that text lacks. This situation is especially true on Instagram. Since the site consists primarily of photographs, it intensifies the importance of visual self-presentation.
In addition to photographs, Instagram offers a few other identity cues: Filters instantly transform a picture taken today into a faded s Polaroid or grainy s black-and-white snapshot.
Photos taken using the Instagram app are square, like Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid photos, rather than rectangular, the latter the result of the Many users further edit their photos using mobile apps such as ProCamera, A Beautiful Mess, and Hipstamatic, which allow additional filters, visual effects, borders, collages, text, and clip art. As Dong-Hoo Lee writes about digital photography in a study of young Korean cameraphone users: I conducted the analysis myself, but I worked with undergraduate students to locate and contextualize highly followed Instagram accounts.
Such accounts were also collected by browsing secondary sites devoted to Instagram such as Web. The goal in searching for highly followed accounts was not to collect a representative sample of Instagram users but to view a diverse array of popular users. Instagram has a binary model of privacy, in which users may set their accounts to either public or private, affecting all of their photos.
All of the accounts analyzed for this project were public, as are virtually all of the most popular Instagram accounts. We found it especially challenging to explain why some accounts had become so popular. Recently, Instagram introduced a feature giving its users the ability to create short video clips. The short videos have increased rapidly in popularity since they were introduced and frequently appear in the explore feature. They are skewed to those popular with youth; stars like Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts do not have Instagram accounts.
An analysis of the top one hundred Instagram users based on number of followers as of September found the following breakdown: Another category of highly followed Instagram users is composed of those who have achieved microcelebrity on another platform, such as the four YouTube stars in the top one hundred. The top one hundred also boasts a wealthy Dubai businessman hhhofficial ; a Brazilian social media strategist who posts pictures of action figures; a company that sells Twitter and Instagram followers; and several themed accounts, such as SneakerNews and CelebrityHollywoodGossip.
But while tweets are easy to ghostwrite, Instagram photos are not; a publicity photo is easily distinguished from a revealing candid. Bieber, the second most popular user on Instagram, recently came under fire for a photograph in which a member of his entourage held a bag of what was alleged to be cocaine.
Micro-celebrity and the Branded Self | Theresa (Terri) Senft - planetaokon.info
As on Twitter, many celebrity accounts may be highly managed and controlled by entertainment companies, but markers of authenticity are harder to falsify given the norm of posting documentary photography on Instagram. First, most young Instagram users use the app to connect with their peer group.
While few of the highly followed users we analyzed used more than one or two hashtags, users actively seeking followers frequently append dozens to their photos, hoping to attract users who use the explore feature to browse by hashtag. Young iphoneography enthusiasts may be as focused on building fame as microcelebrity practitioners are, but they aim to do so through appreciation for their artwork rather than through promotion of a celebrity self-image.
In the following case studies, I examine three highly followed Instagram users who are using microcelebrity techniques to achieve attention and popularity online: These individuals all use the social media platform to create personae, share personal information through their photographs, and strategically appeal to their audiences. While we found several highly followed accounts that do not fit this mold— everydayim cheerleading, for instance, hasfollowers but primarily posts pictures of cheerleaders around the world—for the purposes of this essay we focus on the Instafamous, who use digital pictures, particularly selfies, to create affective bonds between audience and microcelebrity subject.
Her Instagram is full of selfies, along with pictures of friends, food, and concerts. The blog Cayla Friesz Fashion caylafriesz-fashion. Instead, she is admired for her ability to attract attention.
The profile of a Twitter account called Freeeezyfans reads: I am NOT her! This is just a site for us fans, to show our LOVE!! With only pictures to go by, fans debate and argue over the facts of her life. That sounds very stalker ish lol I dont usually do that I only wanted to know what state. Typically, this effort involves answering comments, e-mails, and instant messages or at least making an effort to acknowledge and foster fan relationships.
Because Friesz is Instafamous, she does not fit this aspect of the model, which has as its basis blogs, websites, and Twitter. Tumblr all the time and. The least you could do is just say thank you sometimes. Think about it would ya? Friesz does not respond. Even for those who consider themselves off the grid with regard to social media use, some basic facts seem increasingly clear. First, there seems to be growing consensus that surveillance is the order of the day, especially when speaking about the time one spends on the Internet.
Of course, employees have long understood how employers discipline their online behavior through instruments such as firewalls. Social media architecture also encourages users to monitor the activities of others, all in the name of social connection. Media, Naming, Doing If microcelebrity is so fraught, why engage in it?
First, there is the identity of the Internet itself. Just as they do offline, users identify themselves, and are identified by others, through a range of overlapping categories such as gender, sexuality, race, age, religion, language, ability, nationality, and diaspora. Most began their careers doing identity-oriented work off the Internet and transferred that knowledge gained offline to online venues as the Internet grew in popularity.
When identity is conceptualized in this way, language about performing, writing, reading, interacting, gaming, participating, lurking, and so forth comes up. Obviously, the second and third identity categories supplied above overlap: The Internet as Marketplace; Users as Sellers, Buyers, Goods Of all the identity changes the Internet has undergone over the last 40 years, perhaps the most contentious one has been its recent shift into a means for creating, buying, and selling goods, driven by online advertising and e-commerce.
Morgan, over one-third of all shoppers now buy something online more than once per month. Ten years ago, it was possible to almost entirely avoid the increasingly commercialized aspects of the Internet. Today, ideologies of buying and selling are too deeply rooted online for that.
It is not that older categories such as race, gender, or nationality have disappeared; rather, they have now been complicated by the fact that users are now also asked to think of themselves in categories such as smart shoppers, reputable vendors, trusted citizen journalists, popular fans, reliable information mavens, essential humor portals, and so forth. To complicate matters further, on the Internet, production, distribution, and consumption tend to be interlocking affairs.
In addition to serving as a marketplace, the Internet contributes to a dynamic by which users frame themselves simultaneously as seller, buyer, and commodity. Each of us engage the notion of buying and selling the self online differently: Some ask friends to critique their on-camera presence for an upcoming interview over Skype.Creating an Attractive Online Dating Profile
Others attempt to delete cruel or unflattering comments or worse — spam advertisements from their blogs. Still others are busy calculating their popularity based on status update comments from high-school friends this last example could apply both to those actually in high school and to those long graduated. The Branded Self Online: The Paradox of Late Capitalism To some extent, what appears as a relatively recent fixation with the branded self is actually the result of a long-blossoming growing paradox within late capitalism.
Desperate to figure out new ways of profiting from the few products consumers will or can buy with their increasingly limited funds, companies are bankrolling media products they anticipate will be hits e. These exercises in crossplatform convergence are usually executed at the same time the original media material is scripted and shot, so as to minimize labor payouts to performers, writers, editors, costume directors, and so forth.
On the Internet, it is common to see young people likewise curating, rearranging, and recirculating what they consider to be their best pictures, videos, and status updates in multiple venues online while dropping off their worst, carefully cultivating what in a professional venue would be a concerted audience-segmentation strategy.
From Subculture Stars to Microcelebrity Practices To some readers, everything said above will appear to be trafficking in the logic of celebrity. In truth, Internet celebrity is not a new phenomenon: And not all those discussions have been entirely of an amateur nature: As a social practice, microcelebrity changes the game of celebrity.