Problematising my approach:
For my digital artefact I am going to be doing research on lifestyle influencers on Instagram by comparing three of my favourites; Sarah’s Day, Elsas Wholesome Life and Cartia Mallan. The key issue I want to focus on is how these influencers impact my life, in both a positive and negative way. I have followed these influencers for over 4 years, so I have a personal connection with their content.
My research findings will be relevant to brands who are wanting to know the effectiveness of using influencer marketing when advertising their products. I see myself as someone who is heavily involved with influencer culture and is also likely to make a purchase based off of what I see on instagram. Therefore I feel that this research will be of value to any businesses wanting to invest in influencer marketing.
This research will open my eyes to the business side of Instagram. I am very aware of the monetary aspects, however as a consumer of this content, it is easy to turn a blind eye to sponsorships and brand deals (which is what they want). This research will show the transition of my mindset from seeing these influencers as cool people on the internet, to people selling them selves as a business. For example, Sarah’s Day as been reported to make up to $10,000 a month via social media.
My research plan:
My field work will involve my observations on Instagram and collecting this information in my field notes. Throughout this investigation I will be focusing on the method of participant observation where I will be engaging with these influencers’ content as well as their comments. I will also use the method of mapping to visually communicate my interpretation of this data.
My field notes will be written on a pages document on my laptop which is easily accessible at all times. As instagram is something I am also on when I am out of the house with out my laptop, I will also use notes on my phone to collect findings and will then transfer to this pages document when i come home.
The data I will be collecting will be based off of my experiences interacting with their content. However, to go deeper into the community of these influencers I want to record my experiences reading their comments, as well as exploring subreddits, facebook groups and YouTube comments regarding these influencers. These areas will be important to research to give me wider understanding of how I perceive these influencers and how influenced I would be to buy a product that they promote.
My field notes will include lots of screenshots and links, as well as my emotions whilst doing this research.
To help me interpret my findings, I am going to use Geert’z notion of ‘Thick Description’. This is where I will take my field notes and use them to describe the situation in a way that will produce new knowledge and original insight. This notion produces a rich, evocative description that engages a analytical take on the data I’ve gathered (Geertz, 1973).
When and how am I going to do this research?:
Every day for two weeks I am going to make sure I watch the Instagram stories and check any new posts of all three influencers. I am then going to make really quick notes on them. Then once a week (every Monday) I am going to sit down to explore the reddits, comments, facebook groups etc. and take notes on them. On this Monday I will also compile all my notes from the previous week to match with screen shots, links etc.
Geertz, C., 1973. Thick description: Toward an interpretive theory of culture. Turning points in qualitative research: Tying knots in a handkerchief, 3, pp.143-168.