7th June 2013
1. Introduction a. Background b. Aims and Rationale c. Theoretical Approach i. Active Audiences ii. Reception Analysis 2. Literature Review 3. Research d. Research Methodology and Plan e. Ethical Considerations 4. Conclusion 5. Reference List
The rapid growth of social media in the past few years has been surrounded with associations of citizen journalism, community building and in some countries, a platform to mobilise masses and amplify conversations. Whilst these are all true characteristics of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, an area that is not as frequently addressed in academic discourse is how these platforms are utilised for advertising and marketing initiatives.
I find this a particularly intriguing research topic because it explores the theoretical concepts relevant to social media marketing, a practice I am very familiar with and scrutinise on Facebook especially with brands I associate with in online and offline environments. These brands are constantly seeking creative ways to engage with their consumers, draw them onto their online platforms and encourage the production of user-generated content that relates to their brand message.
Another key area explored in this honours thesis is how marketers and brands interact with their consumers, maximising the two-way communication of social media to engage with the evolving and active audience of the 21st century. This change in audience nature has altered the method and content that marketers send to their audience because ‘audiences and users are increasingly active – selective, self-directed, producers as well as receivers of texts’ (Livingstone, 2004, p.79).
Aims and Rationale The following research report will investigate the conceptual and practical ideas associated with marketing on social media to appeal to the active audience. However because this honours thesis is based on audiences, users and publics, I will also be analysing the reception of these marketing initiatives in relation to a case study on the highly successful global brand, Coca Cola and their social media campaign they launched earlier this year. For this thesis proposal it is necessary to ask: Are the audiences’ perceiving the content the way the producers implied? How are companies utilising new social media platforms to accommodate their audience?
I. Active Audience
The nature of the modern, evolving and active audiences is a key component that shapes how marketers maximise the use of these social media platforms, which is why I will be using the concept of the ‘active audience’ as the cornerstone of my honours thesis. However it must be noted that with the variety of academic sources used throughout this report, there are two distinctive literary differences in the meaning and association of the term active audiences. 1. The notion of the active audience in literature that discusses the relationship between marketers, user-generated content and participatory users from academics such as Papasolomou & Melanthiou (2012), Constantinides & Fountain (2008), Brennan (2009) and Kalpaklioglu & Toros (2011). They are often referring to the active audience as intermediaries, media producers and people that actively engage in sharing and commenting on producers content. 2. The active audience referred to by key thinkers such as Hall (2003), Philo (2008), Livingstone (2004) and Burton (2010) indicates the concept of audiences actively critising texts and media for coding and meaning inscribed by media producers. Not all the listed academics agree with Hall’s proposed