Do to others what you want them to do to you

10 Dec 2015

Virtual worlds, social media gaming, celebrity branding and personal branding

I recently attended the ANZMAC (The Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy) 2015 conference which was hosted by the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. It ran from the 30th of November to the 2nd of December.

I presented a paper titled "Lady Gaga goes virtual: Social network gaming communities’ response towards virtual branding efforts" which I co-wrote with Dr. Ezlika Ghazali, The University of Malaya and Dr. Bang Nguyen, East China University of Science and Technology.

Here is the abstract of the paper:
"This study examines community members' response towards a one-off online personal branding campaign of Lady Gaga. Using a qualitative content analysis approach, the study critically examines forum messages from the official Zynga forums of the social game, Farmville. The findings reveal that in the context of social network games, the marketers' role is, to some extent, reduced, while the roles of consumers, especially opinion leaders, become paramount. Theoretical and managerial implications are also discussed."
The background of how I thought about doing a research on this topic is quite interesting (at least to me). While doing my PhD a few years back, I was introduced to Farmville, a game on Facebook. I think that this game as well as other social games helped me through some of the most stressful times during my PhD journey. It was around the time I was writing up my thesis that American
singer and songwriter Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, who brands herself as Lady Gaga, partnered with Zynga, the creators of Farmville to launch and promote her album 'Born this way'. As far as I know, she was the first artist to ever launch an album on a social media game.

I did a bit of preliminary research and realised that this campaign presented several research opportunities to examine the response of members of an online community towards a branding campaign.

Most studies on virtual worlds have focused on Would of Warcraft and Second Life and no one have actually looked at looked on games on Facebook. The gaming communities are different from the Brand communities on Facebook and present a totally different context. I also discovered that studies on celebrity branding mostly examined their role as a brand ambassador and specifically how the brand image fits with the personality of the celebrity. There was a lack of studies on the celebrity as a brand - which I feel is linked to concept of personal branding. To my surprise, when I looked at pesonal branding literature and how I could link to celebrity branding, I discovered that most of the papers were in human resource journals and linked to personal development.

There is of course the question of methodology. I could have used the increasingly popular Netnographic techniques made popular by Robert Kozinets. However, in the end I used content analysis method for this research.

I would love to hear from and to collaborate with other researchers who are researching in any of the areas listed here.

1 comment:

  1. As more people play games over the internet instead of on a games console there is now a rapidly growing online games community.

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