Academic Theory

Audience Profile


  • The Social Media User

Meet your average social media user. Someone who regularly browses their newsfeed, maybe uploads their own content occasionally, but generally uses social media to keep in contact with friends, view funny videos or images people post and just to pass time when their bored. The average user knows that there is hype surrounding social media but neither gets flustered by it, nor ignores it. Their the middle of the road type of user, can live with it and can live without it. They are the ones who will stop and interact with The #Life. Its important to reiterate that The #Life is not trying to portray a bad or good opinion of social media, it is just a visual representation of the behaviours carried out online and offering an interesting perspective. Therefore, the target market of viewers will be those with an interest in viewing something a bit different, someone who is not so involved with social media that they have a very firm opinion of it and somebody who can take a step back and appreciate the observation/representation. Note how I haven’t referred to the user as either a he or a she,  because my project is not gender specific and can be appreciated by all.

  • The Non Social Media User

Due to the comparison elements of the project I feel that even non social media users will be able to relate to what is trying to be portrayed. This section of the audience I would assume to be slightly older, or those who are not that familiar with Social Media directly but are aware of it and what it has become. Social media is such a big thing now that it is impossible to have not come across it… even my 84 year old Grandad has Facebook and him and my Nan regularly sit and see what their grandchildren are getting up to.


Although the target market stated is quite broad, I don’t think should be seen as a bad thing. Social media is a big enough topic to be understood by most and the creative aspect off the mini pieces included within the project will be appreciated in their own right. Kelley and Ugenheimer (2008) highlight how “arriving at the right audience appears on the surface to be a simple exercise” (p.59), however their must be careful crafting and planing to get the best results. Kelley and Ugenheimer (2008)  suggest that the target market can appreciate a given piece from a number of different ways depending on their own circumstances. For example, some may “make sense of it from a business perspective, a marketing perspective, a media perspective, and a creative perspective” (p.59) . The aim of this project has always been for the audiences to arrive at their own conclusions and take from it what they see fit, so although defining a target market is possible, the nature of the project makes it more of a “media exercise” (Kelley and Ugenheimer 2008, p.59).

Sound Recognition Test


A collection of common media sounds have been collected in order to test if people recognise them, and to see the effect in which they have on them. This small test aims to consider how sound plays a key part in our connection to the online world.  This research hopes to reveal  whether the user feels more inclined to respond to a notification if they hear the sound, and if they keep hearing the sound.

IMG_7697 IMG_7698

The decision to include a sound recognition text was to take a slightly different direction instead of just asking people outright how they feel about social media. This overcomes ideas that people will say what they think you want to hear. By proving or disproving that people were aware of theses social media sounds and what the meant meant that it did not matter if they were pro social media or anti social media, it meant that they were still aware of it and has still developed this idea that people are living simultaneously in a blurring online and offline world even if they are not prepared to admit it.

I feel like sounds will play a large part in the final project because, sound if used correctly can cause a range of psychological responses.



Identity Theory and Social Media Participation

Identity Theory in regards to Social Media participation:

Individuals employ a social identity online…. Tajfel (1981) combines   “four linked concepts: social categorisation, social identity, social comparison and psychological group distinction” to construct better understanding of self-identity.

The social categorisation process is the “bringing together social objects or events in groups which are equivalent with regard to an individual’s actions, intentions and system beliefs” (Tajfel 1981, p.254). So this means that for a transmedia story to work, it needs to “bring together social objects or event in a group” in order to make it desirable by a large audience.

Leary and Tangney (2005) explain how social identity is when the representation of the self is recognised as part of a social group, suggesting that social media users construct an appropriate ‘self’ to portray themselves online.

Ashmore et al. (2001) highlights the complexity of self and identity concepts, offering a further breakdown of social identity as the belief of group belonging, in which receiving acceptance from other group members is deemed an important facilitator of successful group membership. In terms of social media, this could be represented by the number of Facebook ‘friends’ or Twitter ‘followers’.

Leary and Tangney (2005)  states how social identities are “not simply individual cognitive constructions” (p.480), instead they are developed with shared attributes and beliefs of other individuals in mind.

Tajfel (1981) includes a relevant description of ‘social actions’, which play in construction of the social self.

The social comparison concept offers explanation linking social identity theory with social categorisation (Tajfel 1981). Leon Festinger (1954) concludes that social comparison is the drive humans have to evaluate their own opinions and abilities, by measuring them against the opinions and abilities of others who make theirs available. Social media facilitates communication between one to one, and one to many, allowing for social comparison to take place. The active users, are either consciously or unconsciously offering information about themselves to other users, hence making social comparison in an online space possible.

The social comparison theory offers insight  into social media networks “as a system of orientation which creates and defines the individual’s own place in society” (Tajfel 1981, p.258). Users are able to participate online and  in order to construct themselves socially and personally.

Social identity is very complex and social groups cannot necessarily be defined fundamentally. Psychological group distinction discusses how social attitudes; intentions and actions can be used to express the characteristics of a particular group (Tajfel 1981). The benefits, opportunities and other “consequences of membership” within a group can only achieve true satisfaction and status if defined in relation to an alternative group because “groups are…capable of any definition because of their insertions into a multi-group structure” (Tajfel 1981, p.259).

Ashmore, R.D., Ussim, L.J., Wilder, D., 2001. Social Identity, Intergroup Conflict and Conflict Reduction. London: Oxford University Press

Leary, M., Tangney, J., 2003. Handbook of Self and Identity.  NY: The Guildford Press

Tajfel, H., 1981, Human Groups and Social Categories: Studies in Social Psychology.  Cambridge USA: The Cambridge University Press

Online Character Development: Twitter Users

Types of Twitter User

1. The Egg. Every user starts Twitter life as an egg but many of those Twitter Eggs never hatch. Studies have shown that a quarter of Twitter users have never Tweeted. Some eggs may send a few tweets but then give it up and go quiet when they receive no responses

2. The Lurker. Studies have shown that 40% of uses logged in during a given month but did not tweet during this time. There is an overlap of eggs and lurkers, but lurkers tend to be active users just consuming news through the twitter feed without actively tweeting

3. Contester. Users who only really use there profile for the sole purpose of entering competitions or running promotions

4. Retweeter. Less confident Twitter users who only share other peoples posts. They may feel a bit daunted by the whole concept and struggle to let their true personality shine through

5. Bot. The non human twitter account posting automated tweets

6. #TeamFollowBack. Those wishing to embark upon world domination by having a most ridiculous amount of followers. Tweets include too many hashtags, particular ones encouraging a follow or a retweet. High number of followers and high number of followees.

7. Celebrity. Celebrities can include musicians, athletes, actors, the prime minister… anybody known by the masses. Celebrities have millions of followers and with have anything they post retweeted hundreds of times so they can use this influence to do good or purely for self promotion

8. Social Star/”Guru”. Those who have amassed a serious following on twitter and become pseudo celebrities online. Provide a string of content.

9. Business. Advertisers engaging with the world in a way not possibly before social media

10. The steady eddie’s. Core user base of Twitter. Some tweet, some don’t, but they are generally engaged and are essential to the success of twitter as they act as the main audience that advertisers are going to reach with their promoted tweets. Usually very socially engaging on a regular bases with all types of users.

Research: Narratives and Storytelling

Oxford Dictionary Definition:



plural noun: narratives

1. a spoken or written account of connected events; a story. 

As human beings we have related and communicated with one another through the method of story telling for years and years. Listening to one another enables the broadening of culture and allows for better self construct in relation to a wider social environment.

Storytelling can be educational; formed, informed and re-formed in order to suit those surrounding them. Narratives are a form of discourse, the discursive way in which we organise, account for, give meaning to, and understand. The way in which people choose to organise their self identities are based on the experiences they have had, and by using narration of their lives they can develop a better understand the past the present and the future.





Multiple linked Narratives:

– Entertaining but only when full attention of audience has been achieved.

– Requires fast pace storyline, maintaining suspense and large quantity of narrative materials

Multiple Independent Narratives under the same topic:

– Free standing, more engaging, short and sharp so better hold attention of audience.

Realistic Fiction:

–      Stories that have their characters, settings and plot lines displayed as if they could really exist in reality

–      Requires detailed scripting and total audience engagement

Artistic Non Fiction:

– Allows audience to “be the story”, to put themselves within the content.

Fixed Single Narrative:

–      Good for clear interactivity

–      Bad for immersive experience, unspecified narrative pathway

Unstructured Pathway Narrative:

– See multiple independent narrative.


Theoretical Paradigms



–      Human culture is analysed, semiotically – as a systems of signs. What signs that we are connected to an online world?

–      Roman Jakobson, Claude Levi-Strauss, Jaques Lacan, Michael Foucalt, Louis Althusser, Roland Barthes

Post Structuralist:

–      Approach to textual analysis – reader replaces the author as the primary subject of enquiry.

–      History/culture/external factors need to be understood as well as the object itself because they can cause bias and misinterpretations.



Transmedia Storytelling:

–      Multiplatform method of narration

–      Knowing the audience is already out there – social media users, haters, lovers…everyone wants to have an opinion regardless of what it is.

–      Content is important but context and finding are key.

–      The transmedia, i.e. video, sound, image, links, colors, etc, requires the user/viewer/player to transform the content into context by engaging his or hers own, natural cognitive psychological abilities, and enables the meaning and realisation gained to surpass the actually medium and content itself.



–      Poetic. Historical material/lyrical

–      The Expository Mode = social issues, argumentative

–      The Observational Mode = social factors/freedom

–      Participatory – reliant on audience input/feedback, honesty and enthusiam

–      Reflexive – audience present

–      Performative – emotional and subjective context.


Media Theory:

– Self Identity, subjective identity, social identity (Barker 2008)

– Anti essentialist (changeable – target, those on the fence   about social media and could have their opinion swayed one way or the other. )

– Essentialist (Fixed opinion – those who will either love or hate the process, concept and idea)

– Semiotics – Saussure (1974) “signifier and signified”

– Barthes (1968) “denotation and connotation”

– How meaning is created from something   simplistic. This is essential because the project work mimics social media processes, functionalities etc.

– Sosnoski (2010) Cultural Configuration – “the performance of a cultural practice so that the listener or reader can learn how to behave as a member of the culture” – creating an insightful relatable experience.

– Gerbner (1960) Cultivation Theory – Cultivation of media technologys leaves people with a misperception of what is true in our world.