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Understanding Electronic Word of Mouth: Instagram Field Notes (Pt.2)

This is part 2/3 of my Instagram 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 into @jadeywadey’s content in my previous post, I then turned to a smaller, different style of skinfluencer who’s account focused more on product reviews rather than them personally; @sortofobsessed.

So, who is @sortofobsessed?

@Sortofobssessed is an Instagram account run by Adri, a skincare enthusiast. Her content mainly consists of aesthetic photography of skincare products and reviews.

The Process:

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

  • 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?
  • What was the purpose of this piece of content and how did the audience behave in reaction?
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1.png
My scale of persuasion.

FIELD NOTES #1

The content:

What? – Two images of the product with the ocean in the background. The caption provides fairly detailed information about the product and Adri’s experience.

Sponsored? – Yes, the ‘*gifted’ seems to indicate that Adri was given this product free of cost to review.

Persuasive? – Yes! I give it a 7/10 on my persuasion scale. Adri provides detailed information about her experience with the product and even though she was given it for free I feel like her review is genuine.

When & where? – I viewed and analysed this content in my bedroom, on the 24th of September 2020, using the Instagram app on my phone. I viewed the images at approximately 2pm.

My reaction – This post was really convincing for me. Adri’s review feels genuine and authentic to me, despite being sponsored. She provides detailed information and context about her experience and why it worked for her. This has definitely interested me and I want to know more about the product.

Audience reaction – This post currently has 1634 likes and 104 comments. I gauged the audience reaction mostly by conducting Netnographic research using all 104 comments. Unlike other (and bigger) accounts, @sortofobsessed replies to almost every comment made on her post. The majority of comments made by users are positive feedback about the review or about the product. The following pie chart illustrates the comment section of this post.

Pie Chart: Analysing Comments (Content #1)

Message purpose & audience behaviour – Adri has seemingly designed this piece of content with the purpose of providing information about the product, advice and her personal experience using it. Through looking at the audience members who engaged with this post (specifically those who commented), it seems as though the consumers really appreciated the detailed information Adri provided in the review.

FIELD NOTES #2

The content:

What? – An image of the product. The caption includes a detailed product review.

Sponsored? – Nope, doesn’t seem like it. There is no clear indication that Adri has been compensated for this post.

Persuasive? – Yes! I give it a 8/10 on my persuasion scale.

When & where? – I viewed and analysed this content in my bedroom, on the 24th of September 2020, using the Instagram app on my phone. I viewed this image at approximately 2:30pm.

My reaction – Once again, I felt like this review was really authentic! Adri provided a lengthy explanation and lot’s of reasoning as to why she recommends the product, which is super convincing.

Audience reaction – This post currently has 1393 likes. I gauged the audience reaction mostly by conducting Netnographic research using all 68 comments. Adri seems to be diligent about replying to all comments made on her posts, with 50.7% of all the comments on this post being replies to other users (sometimes multiple replies). The audience’s reaction to this post seems to be overwhelmingly positive, with the majority of comments praising Adri’s review. The following pie chart illustrates the comment section of this post.

Pie Chart: Analysing Comments (Content #2)

Message purpose & audience behaviour – Again, it seems as though Adri has designed this post for the main purpose of sharing information about the product and her experience with it. Through the comments the audience has expressed praise for the review and asked further questions, signalling tome that they trust Adri’s skincare knowledge.

FIELD NOTES #3

The content:

What? – An image of the product. Long caption focusing on the Adri’s experience with the product.

Sponsored? – Nope, doesn’t seem like it. There is no clear indication that Adri has been compensated for this post.

Persuasive? – Yes! I give it a 7/10 on my persuasion scale. Adri provided detailed information about the product and her experience, and fully disclosed her personal context and what she didn’t like. Her review appears really genuine to me.

When & where? – I viewed and analysed this content in my loungeroom, on the 25th of September 2020, using the Instagram app on my phone. I viewed the image at approximately 3pm.

My reaction – Again, Adri’s review seemed authentic. She disclosed the difficultly she found in applying the product, and how she didn’t like the product’s scent, which made the review seem more honest and believable to me.

Audience reaction – This post currently has 851 likes and 62 comments. I gauged the audience reaction mostly by conducting Netnographic research using all 62 comments. Again, the feedback was all positive, with some users asking further questions and offering their own opinions and advice. Adri replied to pretty much every comment made, either answering questions or thanking them. The following pie chart illustrates the comment section of this post.

Pie Chart: Analysing Comments (Content #3)

Message purpose & audience behaviour – It seems as though the purpose of this post is to provide honest and helpful information about the product and how to use it. In the comments, Adri’s commitment to replying to almost every comment suggests she is genuinely trying to help others. As such most of her comments praise her reviews.

FIELD NOTES #4

The content:

What? – An image of the product with a lengthy caption detailing her experience with the product.

Sponsored? – Nope, doesn’t seem like it. There is no clear indication that Adri has been compensated for this post.

Persuasive? – This post is a little different as she does not recommend the product. In terms of her persuading me, I would say 10/10 I wouldn’t buy it.

When & where? – I viewed and analysed this content in my bedroom, on the 25th of September 2020, using the Instagram app on my phone. I viewed this content at approximately 4pm.

My reaction – This post was interesting as she talked about her experience and concluded that she wouldn’t recommend to buy it. I think that for me, I am quicker to believe negative reviews over positive reviews. However, I also think that Adri has provided detailed information about the ingredients and how she used the product which makes her review feel more genuine. She definitely has persuaded me not to buy this product.

Audience reaction – This post currently has 592 likes and 23 comments. I gauged the audience reaction mostly by conducting Netnographic research using all of the 23 comments. The majority of comments were positive feedback about the review or questions about skincare. The following pie chart illustrates the comment section of this post.

Pie Chart: Analysing Comments (Content #4)

Message purpose & audience behaviour – It seems the purpose of this post was to discuss and share information about the product and Adri’s personal experience using it. Her followers seem to appreciate the effort and detail she puts into her reviews which is reflected within the comment section.

FIELD NOTES #5

The content:

What? – An image of the product as well as a length caption about her experience with the product.

Sponsored? – Nope, doesn’t seem like it. There is nothing to make me think that Adri has been paid (or been given free/discounted products) to make this review.

Persuasive? – Yes! I give it a 7/10 on my persuasion scale. Adri has seemingly disclosed all aspects of her experience with this product, and I believe her review is genuine.

When & where? – I viewed and analysed this content in my bedroom, on the 26th of September 2020, using the Instagram app on my phone. I viewed this content at 5pm approximately.

My reaction – I believe Adri’s review to be authentic and feel as though she is genuine in her recommendations. I thought that the image she used was aesthetic and appealing and I liked how much detail she put into her review.

Audience reaction – This post currently has 381 Likes. Out of the 65 comments, 37 of them were from users other than @sortofobsessed, all together there were 29 different users that commented on this post (at least 8 users commented more then once). The majority of comments were asking about the product, expressing their views on the product or complimenting the review. It seems @sortofobsessed is particularly good at creating conversations with her followers and other members of the skincare community. The following pie chart illustrates the comment section of this post.

Pie Chart: Analysing Comments (Content #5)

Message purpose & audience behaviour – Once again, it seems Adri’s purpose in posting this was to share hew own knowledge and experience. The users seem to find Adri’s review interesting and of value, which is reflected in their comments.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON @SORTOFOBSESSED

Ultimately, I found Adri’s skincare (particularly EWoM) content seemed to be really authentic. To me it felt as though she really wanted share her knowledge with others, and that her reviews and recommendations were honest and genuine that convincing. My observations about her content include:

  • Adri always replied to the comments on her post especially any questions about the product.
  • The majority of Adri’s posts about specific skincare products were not sponsored, however some were which she indicated in the caption by writing ‘*gifted’.
  • All the content was high quality images featuring the product, a styled background and sometimes props.
  • On average I rated her content 7.8/10 on my persuasion scale.
  • On average 34.9% of comments on the five posts were positive feedback about the review.
  • On average Adri 40.6% of comments on the five posts were replies to other users from Adri.
Image credit: @sortofobsessed via Instagram

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: Instagram Field Notes (Pt.2)

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