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Narrowing it down & finding my field site!

In my last post ‘My media niche: Skincare, Makeup and TikTok!‘, I realised that the media niche I want to learn more about is the beauty community on TikTok.

However, this niche is still super broad! There is all different kinds of content such as makeup tutorials, skincare journeys, product reviews, there’s even a micro-niche known as #ShowerTok where people share their shower time routines.

woman putting makeup in front of mirror
Image credit: Kevin Laminto via Unsplash

Jenna Burrell; an academic specialising in ethnography, explains that, “Through the work of constructing a field site, researchers define the objects and subjects of their research.” (Burrell, 2009, p.1).

As such, it’s super important that I narrow down the scope of my media niche so I can concentrate on a specific aspect of TikTok beauty content and develop a more detailed understanding.

Skincare content is an area of the TikTok beauty community I am particularly drawn to. I love learning about all the new products and ways that will give you that glowing healthy skin.

assorted-labeled cosmetics bottles near pink petaled flower
Image credit: Charisse Kenion via Unsplash

My field site: Skin Care by Hyram

One of the most prominent personas creating this type of content is @skincarebyhyram.

Hyram has a strong social media presence and shares his content on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and his website Skin Care Junkie.

The nature of the intent and social media often means that everything is interconnected. So, when studying a media niche online Jenna Burell explains that a field site has transformed from, “a bounded space that the
researcher dwells within to something that more closely tracks the social
phenomenon under study.” (Burrell, 20009, p195).

As such, I have mapped out the various channels and spaces where Hyram shares content and interacts with his audience.

See Skincare by Hyram’s network map below.

Despite focusing mainly on YouTube, Hyram has amassed almost double the number of followers on TikTok. His biggest audience is found on TikTok, where, using the app’s unique ‘duet’ feature, he shares his reactions to people’s skincare routines and offers advice.

Hyram’s persona is consistently positive across all his channels, and he often promotes self-love and self-care. Interestingly, the comment section on his TikTok videos are full of very positive and supportive messages which is unlike other skincare videos where users usually just ask questions or state opinions.

The dynamics between Hyram and his followers is also intriguing.

The majority of Hyram’s audience seem to be girls aged between 14 and 24, which is one of TikTok’s core demographics. According to Omnicore , 41% of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24 and 44% of users are female.

However, despite having no professional expertise or qualifications these TikTok users place significant value on his skincare advice, so much so that they are willing to discard products they have bought and purchase new ones. (If you’re interested check out this article about how Hyram turned the skincare brand CeraVe into a cult favourite).

TikTok video featuring @skincarebyhyram and @abbyrartistry

After looking into who and what the main participants, personas, spaces, interactions and dynamics were in regard to Skin Care by Hyram I was able to better understand what my objectives for this research task were and how I was going to achieve them.

My objectives for this research:

To gain a better understanding of how skincare content on TikTok differs from similar content on other social media channels.

Subject of research:

I will be focusing on documenting my own experiences (using auto-ethnographic research practices) consuming Hyram’s skincare videos on TikTok, YouTube and on all the other channels where he shares his content. Particularly focusing on how the experience is different for the audience.


So, now that I have narrowed it down and found my field site, it’s time for me to think about what processes I will use and plan my approach…

Make sure you subscribe if you want to keep up to date with what I discover!

References:

Burrell, J 2009, ‘The Field Site as a Network: A Strategy for Locating Ethnographic Research’, Field Methods, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 181-199

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