This semester in BCM241, the concept of creating and developing an online persona in our chosen media niche was our goal and throughout the semester, I feel as though I was able to do just that. As the semester and my DA progressed, I was able to develop a humorous persona on my TikTok account for my chosen media niche- the Ariana Grande fan community. I knew going into the semester that I wanted to use participant observation for my research method as it would be the best method to see if the persona I had thought of would work within a public platform.
Participant observation is the process of entering into a group of individuals with a commonality connecting them to the community being researched. The process requires collecting data from the participants, their interactions and the events that may take place (Allen 2017). This research method allowed for feedback within my niche and helped me develop the persona and make changes to it as I progressed with the DA.
My mode of analysis for this semester’s DA was to use communication analysis. Communication analysis investigates the meaning of an event, speech or artefact by putting it under a magnifying lens of rhetorical questions and techniques. It involves investigating the data collected, summarizing the findings and creating theories that may help answer the findings identified (Morgan, 2021). My findings for this DA are identified as epiphanies.
As I began the process of content creation, I felt I had to change the persona I had initially described in my pitch to accommodate my busy schedule. I was fortunate enough to realise early on that ranking music was not something my persona could accomplish, with my favourite songs always changing. Luckily with this personal discovery, I was able to contribute to the niche in a way that felt genuine and suited my persona.
The biggest key takeaways from my research have to be my epiphanies. These epiphanies were outlined in my blog post titled, “An Update on my Research Approach- Let’s take a trip through Grande lane” and then further expanded upon in “Analyse with me- Epiphanies Edition”.
The first epiphany, the identification of eras within this niche, was the standout of the 3 epiphanies. An era is identified and defined as a period marked by distinctive characters or events (Dictionary 2021). Each era in this niche encapsulates each release of an album and is distinctive of the events that took place during the promotion and release of that album. There are currently 6 completed eras in this niche with the 7th speculated to be centred around the new beauty line, R.E.M Beauty, named after a song from her Sweetener album/era. Each of these 6th completed eras is unique from one another from the music produced, the fashion and even the events Ariana Grande had occurring at the time.
My research for this epiphany centred around the connection we have with music and our emotions. We are often able to admit that music is expressive, but what it expresses is determined by the listener. The listener may not be able to describe in technical terms what the music expresses, but they can identify if the music is sad or if it’s happy and therefore identifying an emotion they connect the piece of music to (Davis, 2003) or often the listener identifies the emotion of a piece of music as a certain way because that emotion is what they think the emotion sounds like (Langer, 1966).
I am in no way a musical expert and would not be able to correctly identify musical notes or be technical in my explanations but I can still appreciate the music by Ariana Grande and associate the emotion connected with the music produced from having been a part of this niche for the last decade.
I decided that the best thing for my persona was to create content discussing how particular Ariana Grande songs made me feel and how I connected my emotions to them. Surprisingly, I received feedback which was super exciting to see as I had mentioned in my Beta that I had not yet received feedback that provided any insight that indicated I was on the right path with my content. Seeing people agree with the statements I made in the videos was the thrill I had hoped for throughout my entire content creation and posting process.
The platform I used for my DA, TikTok, was a little difficult to see if I was able to reach my desired audience and therefore made analysing my analytics without receiving feedback harder than other platforms. But in this instance, no comments meant that I wasn’t doing anything bad because the views, likes and even the shares showed my content was being received well. TikTok’s algorithm is customised by the user and their interaction with content. Playing around with liking/unliking following and unfollowing (Abidin 2020) helps determine your feed and the feed of others who interacted with similar content which allowed me to observe and interact with my niche.
Observing my niche, I kept coming across the same content creators on my for you page who had large followings. I would describe them as micro-influencers as they played a role in inspiring the content I produced. A micro-influencer on TikTok is someone creating content in their content niche, who generally have a very specific and interactive audience (TikTok Influencers 2020), something I 100% noticed in the comments section of these micro-influencers who all had other or similar Ariana Grande fan pages commenting and interacting with one another.
Critically reflecting on my time developing my persona, I have to give credit to micro-influencers in this niche who helped me discover what style and type of content suited my persona. Being genuine and showing my personality was important to me to showcase and overall appears to have allowed me to grow my page and improve my content style. Having the ability to observe and analyse a niche I have grown up being a part of was also a very eye-opening experience allowing me to feel more connected to the niche. I feel as though to get further insight in this niche, it would be best to conduct further research with participants to discover to what extend this niche and its connection to Ariana Grande’s music has impacted participants through surveys or interviews.
Abidin, C 2020, ‘Mapping Internet Celebrity on TikTok: Exploring Attention Economies and Visibility Labours’, Cultural Science Journal, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 77–103, viewed 24 October 2021, <https://culturalscience.org/articles/10.5334/csci.140/print/>.
Allen, M 2017, Participant Observation, Sagepub.com, viewed 23 October 2021, <https://methods.sagepub.com/reference/the-sage-encyclopedia-of-communication-research-methods/i10297.xml>.
Langer, S 1966, The Cultural Importance of the Arts on JSTOR, Uow.edu.au, viewed 24 October 2021, <https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/stable/3331349?sid=primo&origin=crossref&seq=3#metadata_info_tab_contents>.
Morgan, K 2011, How to Write a Communication Analysis Paper | Synonym, Synonym.com, viewed 24 October 2021, <https://classroom.synonym.com/write-communication-analysis-paper-8506723.html>.
TikTok Influencers 2020, GameInfluencer, viewed 24 October 2021, <https://gameinfluencer.com/tiktok-influencers/>.