The Self-Presentation of Vegans on Instagram: Using Visual Content to Brand Oneself Within the Vegan Online Community
Laar, M.L. van 't
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This research paper sheds light on how self-presentation is afforded by social media application Instagram. The social group of vegans has been taken as case, as this group of people is known to be very active in the sharing of photos and videos on Instagram. In particular, this research looks at how veganism is presented as part of the online identity of vegans. Several theories and concepts that cover the subjects of self-presentation, persona and personal branding have been used to analyze two Instagram profiles belonging to Dutch vegans. The two profiles have been chosen according to degree of popularity: one has about forty thousand followers, while the other has four thousand. Four recurring frames have been recognized and discussed based on the posts found on the user profiles; personal branding, product placement, intimacy and ethicality and health. By referring back to the theories and concepts presented in the theoretical framework, like Erving Goffman’s theatrical approach to self-presentation and the phenomenon of personal branding, it has been concluded that the vegans used in this research are actively working on their personal brands that distinguish them from other vegans. Instagram plays an important role in this as it affords its users to present their most important values (veganism) to the public in a way that may not be possible in real life.