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

This is part 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 Part 1 and @sortofobsessed‘s content in Part 2, I decided to look at another prominent skincare account on Instagram; @gothamista.

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.

So, who is @gothamista?

@Gothamista, aka Renée is a skinthusiast, who posts skincare reviews on products. Her content mainly aesthetic imagery of skincare products or her with the products.

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

FIELD NOTES #1

The content:

What? – An image of Renée holding the product. The caption is fairly brief but identifies the product and what it does.

Sponsored? – No, this post doesn’t seem to be sponsored unless she had disclosed in another post that the @theboxwalla October box was gifted to her.

Persuasive? – Not really. I give it a 3/10 on my persuasion scale. This post is quiet brief and there isn’t a lot of information to peak my curiosity. Also Renée did not specifically offer an opinion on the product’s effectiveness.

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 5pm.

My reaction – This post was not particularly persuasive or interesting to me. There wasn’t a lot of information about the product, ingredients or benefits and Renee didn’t really offer an opinion on it, aside from it smells nice.

Audience reaction – This post currently has 1049 likes and 54 comments. I gauged the audience reaction mostly by conducting Netnographic research using all 54 comments. The majority of comments featured positive feedback, asked questions about the product, talked about skincare or tagged someone. Renée replied to most users, either answering their questions or thanking them. The following pie chart generally illustrates the feedback loop for this video.

Pie Chart: Analysing Comments (Content #1)

Message purpose & audience behaviour – It seems that the designed purpose of this post is to promote the skincare product and the @boxwalla October box. The audience behaviour in response is interesting as the comments seemed to focus on positive feedback about Renée and the post in general and not the actual skincare product.

FIELD NOTES #2

The content:

What? – This short video features close ups of the products as well as Renee using the skincare products. The background music is calm and text has been used to identify the products and their ingredients. The caption describes the different products and their ingredients and has the #ad hashtag.

Sponsored? – Yes. The #ad hashtag indicates that Renée has been compensated for this post.

Persuasive? – Not really. I give this post a 3/10 on my scale of persuasion.

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 6pm.

My reaction – I didn’t find this post particularly interesting. Whilst the ingredients were identified there wasn’t much information on what they did. Personally, I like to know everything about a product before I purchase it, which is perhaps why this post didn’t really appeal to me. It did feel very calming though.

Audience reaction – This post currently has 12,400 watches and 817 likes. I gauged the audience reaction mostly by conducting Netnographic research using all 60 comments. The majority of commenters for this post expressed positive feedback about the products and/or the review. A lot of users also asked further questions about the products. Again, Renee replied to most of her followers. The following pie chart generally illustrates the feedback loop for this video.

Pie Chart: Analysing Comments (Content #2)

Message purpose & audience behaviour – This post was seemingly designed by Renée (in collaboration with the product brand) to promote the products to consumers. The audience’s behaviour in reaction to this post was almost entirely positive and users had a lot of further questions about the products/ ingredients.

FIELD NOTES #3

The content:

What? – A close up image of the skincare product. The caption features the #ad and #netrogen_partner hashtags and focuses on discussing retinol skincare products.

Sponsored? – Yes, the #ad and #neutrogena_partner hashtags indicate that this post is sponsored.

Persuasive? – Not really. I give it a 3/10 on my persuasion scale. There isn’t a lot of information to peak my curiosity on this post.

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 2pm.

My reaction – This post was not particularly persuasive or interesting to me. There wasn’t a lot of information about the product and whilst I related to Renée’s confusing experience with retinol products, she didn’t answer any of my questions in this post.

Audience reaction – This post currently has 1890 likes and 86 comments. I gauged the audience reaction mostly by conducting Netnographic research using all 86 comments. The majority of comments were positive interactions between Renée and her followers, with quite a few users asking further questions about the product. The following pie chart generally illustrates the feedback loop for this video.

Pie Chart: Analysing Comments (Content #3)

Message purpose & audience behaviour – This post was seemingly designed by Renée (in collaboration with the product brand) to promote the product to consumers. The audience behaviour mainly consisted of asking further questions and providing positive feedback about either the content or products.

FIELD NOTES #4

The content:

What? – A stop motion video of Renée holding the product. The background music is simple and the #ad hashtag has been used. The caption focuses on describing the product and Renée’s experience with it.

Sponsored? – Yes, the #ad hashtag indicates that this post is sponsored.

Persuasive? – Again, not really. I give it a 2/10 on my persuasion scale.

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 –I feel like this post is a bit generic. I don’t really understand what skincare concern this product targets. Whilst the video is aesthetically pleasing, overall this post feels too much like an advertisement to me. The fact that it is sponsored also makes me sceptical of how genuine this recommendation is.

Audience reaction – This post currently has 1781 likes and 71 comments. I gauged the audience reaction mostly by conducting Netnographic research using all 71 comments. The majority of comments are positive conversations between Renée and her followers. There was also some comments from the product brand company as well. The following pie chart generally illustrates the feedback loop for this video.

Pie Chart: Analysing Comments (Content #4)

Message purpose & audience behaviour – This post was seemingly designed by Renée (in collaboration with the product brand) to explain why this product would be of benefit to consumers. The audience behaviour for this post mainly consisted of users expressing positive feedback about the recommendation/ brand/ products, users offering their own opinions and advice or users asking skincare related questions.

FIELD NOTES #5

What? – A series of looping images of Renée holding and using the product. The caption focuses on explaining the product, it’s ingredients and why it’s good. Renee also shares how to use the product and her own experience using the product, however this is quite brief. The #ad hashtag has been used as well as seven other skincare related hashtags.

Sponsored? –  Yes. The #ad hashtag indicates that Renée has been compensated for this post.

Persuasive? – Kind of. I give this a 4/10 on my persuasion scale. The description Renée has provided makes the product sound appealing to me. However, the fact that it was sponsored makes me sceptical of how authentic her review is.

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 6pm.

My reaction – I find the images to be very professional looking- almost ad like. The language that Renée has used in the caption makes me feel somewhat interested in the product. However the lack of detail and the fact that it is sponsored doesn’t make me want to find out more.

Audience reaction – This post currently has 2188 likes and 76 comments. I gauged the audience reaction mostly by conducting Netnographic research using all 76 comments. The majority of users provided positive feedback on the skincare product and/or Renée’s review. The following pie chart illustrates the main themes within the feedback loop for this post.

Pie Chart: Analysing Comments (Content #5)

Message purpose & audience behaviour – This post was seemingly designed by Renée (in collaboration with the product brand) to explain why this product would be of benefit to consumers. Interestingly there was no negative or critical comments on this post, the audience behaviour consisted of agreeing with Renée and providing positive feedback about the product.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON @GOTHAMISTA

Ultimately, I found Renée’s skincare (particularly EWoM) content seemed to be somewhat authentic. I didn’t come across any content that I knew for sure wasn’t sponsored and I felt as though her recommendations were kind brief of generic. I would’ve liked more information. Also her images and videos were very professional and polished which made me feel like they were advertisements. My observations about her content (based off the five pieces I analysed) include:

  • Renée often replied to skincare or product questions her followers asked.
  • Almost all of Renée’s posts about a specific skincare product/s or brand were sponsored.
  • When the content was sponsored, Renée indicated that is was by using the #ad hashtag.
  • On average I rated Renée’s content 3/10 on my persuasion scale.
  • On average 39% of comments on these five Instagram posts were positive feedback on the content/products.
  • 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, most comments in Renée’s feedback loop was directly skincare related.
Image credit: @gothamista 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. 3)

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