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Understanding Electronic Word of Mouth: TikTok Field Notes (Pt.3)

This is part 2/3 of my TikTok field notes for my ethnographic research project about online skincare communities. I am looking to better understand how audiences’ reactions to Electronic Word of Mouth (EWoM) content differs across different social media channels, by analysing a variety of skincare influencers (or skinfluencers if you will) on Instagram and TikTok.

After looking at @skincarebyhyram‘s content in part one, and @yayayoung in part two, I decided to look at another prominent skincare content creator; @dermdoctor.

Field notes: the process

To ensure I collect a consistent amount of information when analysing content, I ask my self the following questions.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1.png
My scale of persuasion.
  • Who created the content?
  • How is the message communicated? (The video and/or image/s as well as the caption and/or hashtags used).
  • Is this message sponsored?
  • How effective was their persuasion? (Using a my own scale of persuasion)
  • What is the time & date I am viewing the content?
  • Where am I viewing this content?
  • What is my response to the message?
  • How did other users respond to the message?

So, who is @dermdoctor?

@Dermdoctor, aka Dr. Shah ia a popular TikTok skincare account with currently two million followers. Dr. Shah is a licensed doctor who specialises in dermatology, making him a unique creator in the TikTok skincare community as he is professionally qualified. Most of his content focuses on skincare topics and he is almost always seen wearing his scrubs.

Image credit: @dermdoctor via Tikok

I have analysed the following five pieces of Dr. Shah’s content in an effort to better understand this part of the TikTok skincare community.

FIELD NOTES #1

The content:

What? – A one minute TikTok video which consists of Dr. Shah using the product while discussing the ingredients and features of the product with a voice over. The #ad hashtag is used in the caption.

Sponsored? –  Yes. The #ad and #ceraveparneter hashtags have been used indicating that Dr. Shah has been compensated for this TikTok.

Persuasive? – A little. I give this a 5/10 on my persuasion scale. While he explains the product and why he likes it, it also feels a bit like an advertisement.

When & where? – I viewed and analysed this content in my bedroom, on the 7th of November 2020, using the Instagram app on my phone. I viewed the images at approximately 5pm.

My reaction – I felt like this TikTok was informative and somewhat persuasive. I would like to find out more about the product. However, I also felt like it came across as an advertisement and whilst I think Dr. Shah genuinely recommends the product it I feel like he hasn’t disclosed all of his thoughts on it.

Audience reaction – This post currently has 36,500 likes, 714 comments and 838 shares. I gauged the audience reaction mostly by conducting Netnographic research using a random selection of 100 comments. The majority of comments were users asking skincare related questions or expressing positive feedback about the video. The following pie chart generally illustrates the feedback loop for this video.

Pie Chart: Analysing Comments (Content #1)

Message purpose & audience behaviour – This TikTok was seemingly designed by Dr. Shah (in collaboration with the product brand) to explain why this product would be of benefit to consumers. In regards to audience behaviour, it seems that the majority of users were interested in the product and wanted to know more about it or wanted to share their own experiences with it.

FIELD NOTES #2

The Content:

What? – This TikTok video features Dr. Shah explaining how to minimise a skincare concern suing a specific product. The caption includes eight hashtags relevant to the content.

Sponsored? – No. It doesn’t appear as though Dr. Shah has been compensates in any way for this post.

Persuasive? – Yes! I give this an 8/10 on my persuasion scale. Although Dr Shah hasn’t gone into detail about the product, he has framed it as the solution to the skincare concern.

When & where? – I viewed and analysed this content in my bedroom, on the 7th of November 2020, using the Instagram app on my phone. I viewed the images at approximately 6pm.

My reaction – I thought this TikTok was simple but effective. Dr Shah identified the skincare concern (blackheads) and identified the solution (the product). He also provided information on how to use the product and which product he didn’t recommend using. I felt as though his recommendation was genuine and as such I was interested in learning more about the product.

Audience reaction – This post currently has 2, 200,000 likes, 7660 comments and 80,800 shares. I gauged the audience reaction mostly by conducting Netnographic research using a random selection of 100 comments. The majority of user feedback were questions either about the product or other skincare concerns. Dr. Shah replied to the most popular comments/questions. It’s interesting that so many users shared this video with a friend/s, it seems that this video contained valuable information. The following pie chart generally illustrates the feedback loop for this video.

Pie Chart: Analysing C omments (Content #2)

Message purpose & audience behaviour – This piece of content was seemingly designed with the main purpose of helping users with their skincare concerns. The audience behaviour of asking questions seems to suggest that dr. Shah’s fans/followers place significant value on his advice about skincare.

FIELD NOTES #3

The Content:

What? – This TikTok video features Dr. Shah showcasing and using a skincare product. He discusses why the product is good, how to use it and its ingredients in a voice over. The caption includes the #ad and #naturlumpartner hashtag and several other hashtags related to the content.

Sponsored? – Yes. The #ad and #naturlumpartner hashtags indicate that this is a paid promotion.

Persuasive? – A little. I give this a 5/10 on my persuasion scale. It’s interesting but I don’t have a desire to buy it.

When & where? – I viewed and analysed this content in my bedroom, on the 7th of November 2020, using the Instagram app on my phone. I viewed the images at approximately 8pm.

My reaction – I felt like this TikTok was interesting but not very persuasive. Although I did like that it was informative. To me, the video felt very mellow. Dr. Shah talked slowly and calmly and the background music was also calm. I think that my lack of interest might have something to do with the fact that Dr. Shah wasn’t excited or passionate about the product.

Audience reaction – This post currently has 34,400 likes, 514 comments and 1972 shares. I gauged the audience reaction mostly by conducting Netnographic research using a random selection of 100 comments. The majority of comments were skincare questions. The following pie chart generally illustrates the feedback loop for this video.

Pie Chart: Analysing Comments (Content #3)

Message purpose & audience behaviour – This TikTok was seemingly designed by Dr. Shah (in collaboration with the product brand) to explain why this product would be of benefit to consumers. In regards to audience behaviour, it seems that the majority of users were interested in the product and wanted to know more about it.

FIELD NOTES #4

The Content:

What? – This TikTok video features Dr. Shah

The text provides instructions to treat the skincare concern. The background music is electronic dance music. The caption tags the product brand and includes the #ad hashtag.

Sponsored? – Yes. The #ad hashtag indicates that Dr. Shah was paid for this promotion.

Persuasive? – Yes. I give it a 7/10 onmy persuasion scale. However, I think that this rating would probably be higher if I had this skincare concern.

When & where? – I viewed and analysed this content in my bedroom, on the 2nd of November 2020, using the Instagram app on my phone. I viewed the images at approximately 8pm.

My reaction – Again I thought this TikTok was simple but effective. The text clearly explained what steps to take to treat this skincare concern. I think that if I had this skincare concern the video would have been more persuasive to me.

Audience reaction – This post currently has 50,300 likes, 498 comments and 3184 shares. I gauged the audience reaction mostly by conducting Netnographic research using a random selection of 100 comments. For this video, the majority of users were asking skincare questions. The following pie chart generally illustrates the feedback loop for this video.

Pie Chart: Analysing Comments (Content #4)

Message purpose & audience behaviour – Again, it seems that this TikTok was designed by Dr. Shah (in collaboration with the product brand) to explain why this product would be of benefit to consumers. In regards to audience behaviour, it seems that the majority of users were interested in the product and had more questions.

FIELD NOTES #5

The Content:

What? – A video featuring Dr. Shah as he applies the product. The text includes “Amazing Fall/Winter Moisturiser”, then the product name and finally a discount code to buy the product. The caption identifies the product as one of his favourites. The caption also includes several skincare and product hashtags.

Sponsored? – Kind of? There is no clear disclosure of a sponsorships in the video, however Dr. Shah expresses in the comment section that he is not sponsored by the product’s brand company but he does have an affiliate link with a discount code. I assume he receives a commission every time that code is used for a purchase.

Persuasive? – Not really. I give it a 3/10 on my persuasion scale. There’s not a lot of information about the product or why it’s his favourite.

When & where? – I viewed and analysed this content in my bedroom, on the 2nd of November 2020, using the Instagram app on my phone. I viewed the images at approximately 7pm.

My reaction – To me, this piece of content felt like an advertisement. I would’ve liked to know why the product was good, what ingredients it had, how do you use, etc. Generally more information would’ve been better for me.

Audience reaction – This post currently has 28,800 likes, 588 shares and 468 comments. I gauged the audience reaction mostly by conducting Netnographic research using a random selection of 100 comments. The majority of comments were skincare questions and positive feedback about the product. However, there was also some users who expressed negative feedback about the product. Dr. Shah didn’t reply to many users on this post. The Following pie chart generally illustrates this TikTok’s feedback loop.

Pie Chart: Analysing Comments (Content #5)

Message purpose & audience behaviour – The purpose behind this TikTok is sort of unclear. On the surface level it seems Dr. Shah is just recommending this product. However, he also includes an affiliate discount code, suggesting the purpose might be to encourage users to buy this product using the code. In regards to the audience behaviour, most users expressed their own opinion on the product (whether that was positive or negative) or asked a skincare related question.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON @DERMDOCTOR

Ultimately, I found Dr. Shah’s skincare (particularly EWoM) content seemed to be mostly authentic! I believe that he was being genuine about his skincare recommendations as he put in the same level of effort into non-sponsored content. To me, it seems as though Dr. Shah is trying to help users in the TikTok skincare community achieve their goals. My other observations about Dr. Shah’s content include:

  • Dr. Shah replied sometimes to the most liked skincare or product questions.
  • The majority of Dr. Shah’s posts about a specific skincare product/s or brand were sponsored.
  • When the content was sponsored, Dr. Shah indicated that is was using the #ad or #sponsored hashtag.
  • On average I rated Dr. Shah’s content 5.6/10 on my persuasion scale.
  • On average 59% of comments on these five TikToks were skincare questions.
  • Generally the audience behaved in correspondence with the content’s designed purpose, i.e. users asked more questions about brand and/or the product or asked more general skincare questions.
  • It appeared as though, almost every comment in Dr. Shah’s feedback loop was directly skincare related.

If you’re interested in my research into the skincare community across social media platforms make sure you hit follow!

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2 thoughts on “Understanding Electronic Word of Mouth: TikTok Field Notes (Pt.3)

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