The Olympic Games are by far, the greatest sports event in the world with more than 187 million Tweets, 1.5 billion interactions on Facebook and 916 million interactions on Instagram (http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-networks/how-2016-rio-olympics-dominated-social-media-infographic), and here in Australia, free channel 7 transmitted Olympic events 24/7 for three weeks in a row.
Aimed by the reading of the paper “An investigation of how the Australian brewing industry influence consumers on Twitter” I wanted to do some research of my own about how Olympic athletes use social media to influence fans and promote their personal brand. According to Parmentier & Fischer, a “person brand consists of the associations one ascribes to a particular person, and is a common concept regard to athletes in the sports industry”.
Pictures, a way to communicate yourself
Erving Goffman, one of the most important sociologists regarding self-issues, proposes an approach, a dramaturgical model, where I found two important concepts very useful to analyze social media content: The font stage and the back stage. The font stage occurs when we interact with others in public or professional situations. By contrast, backstage performances are those that occur in one’s private environment where there is a more familiar audience or not audience at all.
Instagram is the major picture social platform with more than 300 million daily active users and an average monthly follower growth of 16% (http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/important-instagram-stats/). Trying to read some more about it, I found and interesting paper: “Communicating via photographs: A gendered analysis of Olympic athletes’ visual self-presentation on Instagram” (http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.lib.monash.edu.au/science/article/pii/S1441352315000285) that came up with some interesting results. The goal of the study was to investigate Olympic athletes’ self-presentation on Instagram to understand how these public figures use this platform as a personal branding tool. One of the most surprising findings for me was that personal life pictures were the most popular, compare to business life or athlete’s sport, which for me should have been the most popular ones. Linking this to Goffman’s model, personal life would be backstage performance and business life would be font stage behavior. For me personally, I see Olympic athletes as real life heroes, so yes I want to know about them, what they eat, how they train, how is their life like, what they do besides training and winning gold medals. To see find about their business or sports life we have television news, newspapers, and internet, to find out more about their private life we use Instagram, so I think is not such a thing as a private life anymore.
It’s all about likes and followers
Now days we get questions like..How many followers do you have on Instagram? How many likes did your proposal picture get? all the time, but for me, the real question is: Why is that so important? What are we trying to prove? Are we really showing the backstage of ourselves or is just a modified version of how we want people to see us?