The way media user engages to media has been shifting from consumer who response to the media i.e. discussing the media to produser where the user is at the same time generating and creating content. This shift that indicates a strong participation should be deemed as a help especially for marketing managers to engage with the communication on social media and manipulate it for the brands benefit.
Social networking sites, such as social media, become increasingly ubiquitous (Boyd, 2012). The increase, as suggested by Hinton and Hjorth (2013, p. 18 – 21), is triggered by the fact that social media enables the user to share and create content. Berthon, Plangger, and Shapiro (2012) explains that Web 2.0, which defined as social networking sites by Hinton and Hjorth, is the platform that enables “collective media” and consumer-generated content. From these arguments, it can be inferred that participation has become the prominent quality from social media.
Hinton and Hjorth (2013, p. 57 – 60) further argues that the participation is more than just public responses i.e. public discourse, but the fact is the participation has turned the user to become the media producer too or in Bruns’ term: ‘produser.’ Similarly, Berthon et al. (2012) argues that user is the one “who produce much of the value-added content in social media” and share it to the networks. They further compile the findings from different studies and draw a spectrum of user creativity. It is begun from informal discussions about products and services; the next step is a structured review and evaluations in text or video; then trough their own creation of advertising videos, the user actively promotes or demote brands; and then at the end of the spectrum the user involved in the innovations of the product and service.
Having said that, it can be concluded that one of the communication behaviour of social media user is to produce media and share it. Such behaviour should be embraced especially by marketing managers so that they can share the burden of promoting their brands with the public with the aim to reach bigger number of audience. The conclusion inspires the #celebratingYOU campaign, a campaign established for Ulos by Oti.
In setting up the campaign, Ulos by Oti believes on the idea that people are on social media because they want to be present and they want to share their presence to others (Hinton and Hjorth, 2013, p. 16 – 17). The idea shapes the communication behaviour of social media user as explained previously. Ulos by Oti is a fashion brand that engages with a specific audience which is fashion community. If the general social media user portrays as produser, according to Pihl (2014) the member of fashion community on social media also act as produser with strong ties between the members of the community and certain degree of centrality where one member might influence other members. This makes it possible for Ulos by Oti to manipulate the electronic Word of Mouth and share the burden of promotion with its audience.
Departing from the finding above, the campaign incorporates a selfie contest which the winner of the contest is the selfie with the most likes. The contest functions as a game that provides an avenue for the audience to create a content i.e. a selfie as well as to generate a content i.e. share their selfie to collect likes. The campaign tries to utilise almost all available features on social media, especially Facebook, to increase participation that might results in higher reach. A similar campaign strategy has been done by the Burger King in New Zealand in 2014. The theme of the campaign is Cheat on Beef with the new chicken burgers and this theme was previously used in the US and the UK but with much less significant result. The reason why it was not as successful in the US and in the UK is because they did not involve social media that indicates less participation. The New Zealand campaign optimised the use of social media that triggered participation. It created a hype that encouraged people to take part.
In the campaign, the Burger King set up a motel that is dedicated for their customer to cheat with chicken burger from their partner, beef burger. To book the room in the motel to eat, the customer needs to tag their friends on the Burger King Facebook page. Once the booking is done and they arrive at the motel they check in on Facebook using the geotag locative feature. Afterwards, when the meals are served, they take selfies of them enjoying the burgers or their cheating moment.
The Burger King campaign is considered successful with a significant increase of engagement on Facebook that amounts to 587%. The campaign managed to reach two million people which is almost half of the New Zealand total population. Something that is worth to note is the fact that the campaign not only attracts the people in New Zealand but interests has also shown in other countries which then support one of the axioms that is summarised by Berthon et al. (2012) that “in the age of social media, local events seldom remain local.”
Although it is not as extravagant as the result of the Burger King campaign, the #celebratingYOU campaign can also be considered successful. After the campaign that was hold for less than two weeks, the number of followers on Instagram increase by 2% while the reach on Facebook increase up to thousands which is considerably good considering the actual number of people liking the page is under 200 people.
One of the key takeaways from both campaign is it is important to observe how the intended audience communicate on social media. The theory posits that the social media user communicates by generating and creating the content. To manipulate the communication, the campaign should provide an avenue for the communication to occur. Another thing that is important, according to the study conducted by Crowdtap in 2015, the user generated content is more believable compared to other media. Hence, if the campaign is established appropriately, it may boost user generated content that serves as electronic word of mouth that in the end increase the consumer confidence towards the brand.
The discussion of participation, be it in the class or based on independent research, is intriguing. It is very useful to observe the participation progress from a mere response to creation. The observation can be further developed into a research that seek to answer a question such as with the power to create media, would it be possible for the people to reclaim the public sphere, particularly on social media, from the big media corporates. The progress itself might radically shift media creation or production. It is noticeable that the current pattern of media production is getting shorter e.g. from blogging to microblogging (WordPress to Twitter), from long footage to clip (YouTube to Vine), from text to picture (Twitter to Instagram). But it is not impossible the future of media production might be a combination of picture (or video) with a narrative as offered by a new social media platform, Steller.
Berthon, P. R., Pitt, L. F., Plangger, K., & Shapiro, D. (2012).Marketing meets web 2.0, social media, and creative consumers: Implications for international marketing strategy. Greenwich: Elsevier Advanced Technology Publications. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2012.01.007
Boyd, D. (2012). Participating in the Always-On Lifestyle. In M. Mandiberg (Ed.), The Social Media Reader (pp. 71-76). New York: New York University Press.
Hinton, S. & Hjorth, L. (2013). Understanding social media. London: SAGE.
Crowdtap (2015). Social Influence: Marketing’s new frontier. Retrieved from http://corp.crowdtap.com/socialinfluence
Pihl, C. (2014). Brands, community and style – exploring linking value in fashion blogging. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 18(1), 3-19. doi:10.1108/JFMM-10-2013-0108