Author: Zhang, Min
Title: Brand narrative by global airlines on social media: tellership, tellability and interaction
Advisors: Wu, Dongying Doreen (CBS)
Degree: DALS
Year: 2020
Subject: Communication in marketing
Branding (Marketing)
Social media
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Humanities
Pages: xiv, 247 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: With increasing human communication and exchanges based on internet technology, the past decade has witnessed a rapid development of online content marketing on social media. In the creation and distribution of branded content on social media, brand narrative has stood out as a powerful communication tool to help brands reach their consumers and develop meaningful relationship with stakeholders. Compared with consumer stories that are extensively shared and studied as personal narrative, there is a dearth of empirical research from the corporate end on brand narrative on social media. The present thesis thus aims to investigate the brand narrative practices on Twitter to uncover how discursive and visual resources are configured to manage heterogeneous narrating voices, narrative themes and interaction in the construction of corporate identity on social media. The present study proposes a conceptual framework to capture the brand narrative behaviors on social media as two discrete but interrelated cycles in the production and distribution of narrative content. A multi-dimensional discourse analytic framework is developed that draws on the model of dynamic narrative dimensions set out by Ochs & Capps (2001) to investigate the brand narrative on social media from the dimensions of tellership, tellability and interaction. An empirical corpus-based narrative discourse analysis has been carried out to verify the applicability of the framework on the narrative discourses produced and redistributed by corporate brands on Twitter. As a major player in the travel and tourism industry in which narration lies at its very heart on social media, the global airline industry was selected for its highly active and interactive space of storytelling for both the corporate and individual tellers. An Airline Narrative Tweet Corpus and an Airline Twitter Image Corpus were compiled which contain a total of 1000 authentic narrative posts and 656 embedded images collected from ten top corporate brands in the global airline industry on Twitter. The findings reveal that the corporate identities are incrementally constructed and dynamically shaped on social media by participatory discourses and represented participants from both the brands themselves and their stakeholders. In the meantime, the brand narrative practices on social media are featured by both proactive and responsive self-presentation and narrator-audience interaction.
It is found that the brand narrators reserve most of the narrating floor on social media and selectively open the rest of it to stakeholders whose stories are redistributed by the airline brands as collaborativeco-narrating voices. Brand narrators strategically switch between a suprapersonal institutional voice and an affiliative human voice. In addition, the interplay between the brand voice and the stakeholders' voices manifests the brands' visible attempts to enhance brand credibility and uphold sociality with audience. In terms of tellability, the narrative themes distribute around showcasing corporate abilities and promoting brand image as responsible corporate citizens. Concrete evidence has been found to uncover how the complex of tellabilities can jointly serve the brand identification need of the corporations that are positioned to target different market segments. It is also examined how the tellabilities are presented, elaborated and reinforced by the visualization of the participants depicted in the embedded images of the narrative posts. The study reveals that brand narrators constantly make decisions on the expected degree of interactivity on social media by using various linguistic and visual devices to involve the audience or detach themselves from the audience in the narration. Four major interaction management strategies are identified that involve the utilization of temporal, structural, intertextual and visual devices as a set of creative departures from the canonical narrative models. The study contributes to the growing literature of digital narratology on social media and provides robust support for the application of discursive approach to the study of brand narrative and corporate identity construction. The discursive approach proposed, and the multi-dimensional analytical framework developed for the study could serve the needs of researchers and professionals to evaluate brand narrative practices effectively on social media as a strategic branding process. Empirically, the study enriches the toolkit for analyzing brand narrative and empowers researchers to navigate a complex polyphonic storytelling context on social media. It also provides pedagogical implication for the enhancement of discursive competence for novice practitioners in the field of digital content marketing on social media.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: restricted access

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