Creating Brand Personality and Engaging Users in Instagram for Marketing Purposes
A Multimodal Discourse Analysis
Keywords:Instagram, marketing discourse, multimodal discourse analysis, brand personality, engagement
This paper presents the findings of a pilot study regarding the ways in which the communicative potential of Instagram can be harnessed for marketing purposes. In particular, by adopting a multi-method approach rooted in Multimodal Discourse Analysis (Iedema 2003; Jewitt 2016), the study explores how an Italian fashion start-up company, D1 Milano, expresses its brand personality (Aaker 1997; Crawford Camiciottoli 2018) and engages its followers.
The research objective is pursued by investigating a corpus of 1,137 posts published between 15 August 2015 and 30 September 2019. These are examined focusing on three areas. The most frequent linguistic patterns are analysed using Sketch Engine in order to determine how brand personality is verbalised. The metadata are explored in the light of Zappavigna’s (2015) metafunctional framework, according to which hashtags can fulfil an experiential, a textual, and an interpersonal function. As regards visual representation, the study concentrates on the creation of interpersonal meaning between the image producer, the represented participant, and the viewer through choices in subjectification (Zappavigna 2016).
The results indicate that the personality of the brand combines traits belonging to the dimensions of excitement and sophistication, which are conveyed both linguistically and visually. Moreover, since the company frequently reposts pictures taken by its customers/followers, the audience is expected to identify with the brand, especially in the case of those images where the presence of the photographer can be inferred by the inclusion of his/her body parts (almost 25% of the entire corpus). Finally, hashtags mainly serve an experiential and an interpersonal function: one the one hand, they evoke D1 Milano’s personality by foregrounding the features of the brand, while also thematising the followers’ attitude, desires, and ambitions; on the other, they promote engagement by inviting users’ metacomments.
Aaker, Jennifer L. “Dimensions of Brand Personality.” Journal of Marketing Research 34.3 (1997): 347-356.
Adami, Elisabetta and Gunther Kress. “Introduction: Multimodality, Meaning Making, and the Issue of ‘Text.’” Text & Talk 34.3 (2014): 231-237.
Bacile, Todd, Charles Hoffacker and Ally White. “Emerging Challenges in Social Media.” International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications 6.1 (2014): 34-51.
Bernstein, David. Creative Advertising. London: Longman, 1974.
boyd, danah. “Social Network Sites as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications.” Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites. Edited by Zizi Papacharissi. London: Routledge, 2010. 39-58.
Cook, Guy. The Discourse of Advertising. London: Routledge, 2001.
Crawford Camiciottoli, Belinda. “The Nuances of Brand Personality: A Corpus-assisted Linguistic Analysis of Web-based Communications of Fashion Brands.” Hermes 57 (2018): 141-159.
Danesi, Marcel. The Semiotics of Emoji: The Rise of Visual Language in the Age of the Internet. London: Bloomsbury, 2017.
Das, Gopal, Hillary J. D. Wiener and Ioannis Kareklas. “To Emoji or not to Emoji? Examining the Influence of Emoji on Consumer Reactions to Advertising.” Journal of Business Research 96 (2019): 147-156.
D1 Milano. “Welcome to Our Manifesto.” D1 Milano, 2022. https://d1milano.com/pages/inside-d1. Last visited 19/04/2022.
Edelson, Steven A., et al. “What Did I Just Tweet?!: The Need to Address Digital Emotional Literacy in Corporate Communications.” Digital Business Discourse. Edited by Erika Darics. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. 189-207.
Ellison, Nicole B. and danah m. boyd. “Sociality through Social Network Sites.” The Oxford Handbook of Internet Studies. Edited by William H. Dutton. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. 151-170.
Enberg, Jasmine. “Global Instagram Users 2019.” eMarketer 12 Dec. 2019. https://www.emarketer.com/content/global-instagram-users-2019. Last visited 15/04/2022.
Evans, Dave and Jake McKee. Social Media Marketing: The Next Generation of Business Engagement. Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing, 2010.
Eytan, Declan. “Meet the 22-year-old Who Is Set to Launch the World’s First Thermochromic Watch.” Forbes 18 February 2015. https://www.forbes.com/sites/declaneytan/2015/02/18/meet-the-22-year-old-that-is-set-to-launch-worlds-first-thermochromic-watch/#d9aa7b23c227. Last visited 19/04/2022.
---. “The 10 Startups Redefining Italian Fashion.” Forbes 29 February 2016. https://www.forbes.com/sites/declaneytan/2016/02/29/the-10-startups-redefining-italian-fashion/#2d404baa493b. Last visited 19/04/2022.
Firsching, Jan. “Mehr als Cat Content und Selfies: Erfolgreiches Instagram Marketing für Unternehmen.” Social goes Mobile—Kunden gezielt erreichen. Edited by Heike Scholz. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien, 2017. 85-103.
Garzone, Giuliana. “Social Media in Corporate Communication: Focus on Text and Discourse.” Discourse in and through the Media: Recontextualizing and Reconceptualizing Expert Discourse. Edited by Marina Bondi, Silvia Cacchiani and Davide Mazzi. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015. 214-241.
Halliday, Michael A. K. and Christian M. I. M. Matthiessen. An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Arnold, 2004.
Hanna, Richard, Andrew Rohm and Victoria Crittenden. “We’re All Connected: The Power of the Social Media Ecosystem.” Business Horizons 54 (2011): 265-273.
Iedema, Rick. “Multimodality, Resemiotization: Extending the Analysis of Discourse as Multi-semiotic Practice.” Visual Communication 2.1 (2003): 29-57.
---. “Verified Badges.” Instagram Help Center, 2022b. https://help.instagram.com/854227311295302. Last visited 12/04/2022.
Jewitt, Carey. “Multimodal Analysis.” The Routledge Handbook of Language and Digital Communication. Edited by Alexandra Georgakopoulou and Tereza Spilioti. London: Routledge, 2016. 69-84.
Jones, Nory, Richard Borgman and Ebru Ulusoy. “Impact of Social Media on Small Businesses.” Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development 22.4 (2015): 611-632.
Keller, Kevin L., et al. Strategic Brand Management: A European Perspective. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2008.
Kilgarriff, Adam, et al. “The Sketch Engine: Information Technology.” Sketch Engine 2004. https://www.sketchengine.eu/wp-content/uploads/The_Sketch_Engine_2004.pdf. Last visited 19/04/2022.
---. “The Sketch Engine: Ten Years On.” Lexicography 1 (2014): 7-36.
Lee, Eunji, et al. “Pictures Speak Louder than Words: Motivations for Using Instagram.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 18.9 (2015): 552-556.
Lexical Computing Ltd. “Statistics Used in the Sketch Engine.” Sketch Engine 8 July 2015. https://www.sketchengine.eu/wp-content/uploads/ske-statistics.pdf. Last visited 08/08/2022.
Lillqvist, Ella and Lena Louhiala-Salminen. “Facing Facebook: Impression Management Strategies in Company-consumer Interactions.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication 28.1 (2013): 3-30.
Malär, Lucia, et al. “Emotional Brand Attachment and Brand Personality: The Relative Importance of the Actual and the Ideal Self.” Journal of Marketing 75 (2011): 35-52.
Mangold, William G. and David J. Faulds. “Social Media: The New Hybrid Element of the Promotion Mix.” Business Horizons 52 (2009): 357-365.
McCann, Margaret and Alexis Barlow. “Use and Measurement of Social Media for SMEs.” Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development 22.2 (2015): 273-287.
Ortner, Christina, Philip Sinner and Tanja Jadin. “The History of Online Social Media.” The SAGE Handbook of Web History. Edited by Niels Brügger and Ian Milligan. Los Angeles: SAGE Publishing, 2019. 372-384.
PwC. “It’s Time for a Consumer-centred Metric: Introducing ‘Return on Experience.’ Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019.” PwC Global, 2019. https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/consumer-markets/consumer-insights-survey/2019/report.pdf. Last visited 12/04/2022.
---. “The Consumer Transformed. Global Consumer Insights Survey 2020.” PwC Global, 2020. https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/consumer-markets/consumer-insights-survey/2020/consumer-insights-survey-2020.pdf. Last visited 12/04/2022.
Stelzner, Michael A. “2021 Social Media Marketing Industry Report.” Social Media Examiner 10 May 2021. https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-marketing-industry-report-2021/. Last visited 15/04/2022.
Tajvidi, Rana and Azhdar Karami. “The Effect of Social Media on Firm Performance.” Computers in Human Behavior 115 (2021): 1-10.
Thurlow, Crispin. “Digital Discourse: Locating Language in New/Social Media.” The SAGE Handbook of Social Media. Edited by Jean Burgess, Alice Marwick and Thomas Poell. Los Angeles: SAGE Publishing, 2017. 135-145.
Tran, Tony. “How to Regram on Instagram: 5 Tried and True Methods.” Hootsuite 8 April 2020. https://blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-regram/. Last visited 19/04/2022.
Virtanen, Henrik, Peter Björk and Elin Sjöström. “Follow for Follow: Marketing of a Start-up Company on Instagram.” Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development 24.3 (2017): 468-484.
Voorveld, Hilde A. M., et al. “Engagement with Social Media and Social Media Advertising: The Differentiating Role of Platform Type.” Journal of Advertising 47.1 (2018): 38-54.
Zappavigna, Michele. “Ambient Affiliation: A Linguistic Perspective on Twitter.” New Media & Society 13.5 (2011): 788-806.
---. Discourse of Twitter and Social Media. London: Continuum, 2012.
---. “Searchable Talk: The Linguistic Functions of Hashtags.” Social Semiotics 25.3 (2015): 274-291.
---. “Social Media Photography: Construing Subjectivity in Instagram Images.” Visual Communication 15.3 (2016): 271-292.
Zhu, Yu-Qian and Houn-Gee Chen. “Social Media and Human Need Satisfaction: Implications for Social Media Marketing.” Business Horizons 58.3 (2015): 335-345.
Copyright (c) 2022 Emanuela Tenca
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Iperstoria is an Open Access journal.
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 BY-NC License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of their work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal. We require authors to inform us of any instances of re-publication.