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“We are all just actors trying to control our public image”

29.01.2019Comments are closed.

On Monday, 22 January 2019, the Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana welcomed Prof. Dr Peeter W.J. Verlegh from Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam to present the article “How consumers use brands to show off on (visual) social media”. Since social media is becoming more and more visual, we (consumers) have started to use different status brand prominence and platforms to present ourselves. This conveys a favourable impression of self to others and shows the ideal picture of us. Research suggests that the effects of self-presentation activities may be regarded as “bragging” (showing off) and therefore disliked by others.

The highly experienced professor gave us some interesting facts about this topic. For example, if you get information from people who are similar to you, you tend to listen to them more, and conversely, if you get the information from dissimilar people, you still get the information but you use it in a different way. He continued that consumers spread positive word of mouth about brands they use in order to self-enhance and are congruent with actual or ideal self. Further on, in connection with luxury goods, we notice that when the logo of a brand is bigger, the product itself is consequently cheaper.

During the seminar the professor also presented studies, experiments, and results in this area. If we compare high-status brands (Luis Vuitton, Harley Davidson) with low-status brands (H&M, Hyundai), it is notable that prominence and staging are more likely to appear in Instagram posts for high-status brands. So, if you use high-status brands to self-present in visual social media, the audience tends to identify your behaviour as bragging. On the other hand, these people change their perception of people that use low-status brands.

Prof. dr. Verlegh concluded that “more research on visual media is needed and concepts of this content need to be more defined. However, the question that remains unanswered is when, or under what conditions are social media posts about brands interpreted as bragging and how do they influence impression formation online.”

Anja Puc, EFnews

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