With the expanding rise of the technological world that has seen a wealth of new developments over the past few decades, it is safe to say that ‘vlogging’ has taken off by storm. A vlog is a type of blog that consists of videos, which are typically no longer than five or ten minutes in length (Luers, 2007). These are most often published to YouTube or Vimeo, and maintain focus on a specific point of interest, for example, beauty and fashion; lifestyle; food; games, plus many more. These videos do not require a team of editors since the author maintains their own freedom to control the content and scheduling of the publication. Vlogs allow viewers to re-wind sections, add subtitles and leave text comments, ultimately creating a more intimate and interactive experience than traditional media forms, such as broadcast television.
The growing trend of online video blogging allows individuals to take on more freedom to express their opinions or views and interact with their audience more directly and interactively, as reaffirmed by Miller (2003). Video blogs indeed exhibit a real sense of community and belonging, especially in regards to the fact that each video follows a set focus, and many vloggers themselves seek a close connection with those who have similar interests or mind set – in some cases by producing collaboration videos with fellow vloggers, and by asking likeminded viewers to comment or react on their videos. This online community of video bloggers exhibits a ‘core periphery’ structure, whereby it is formed based on shared interests and active interactions (Warmbrodt et al., 2012). Ultimately, this can be linked to the idea that consumption, in this case vlogging, is an active and creative process through which consumers continuously produce and reproduce their own identity (Gabriel and Lang, 1995).
In actual fact, the concept of self-presentation of vloggers and the way they present themselves through virtual platforms is one of significance. As stated by Kiesler (1986), virtual communities, including online vlogs, provide a way for people to socialise with others but also maintain a distance from them, and can usually break down societal and organisational barriers. This is due to the fact that individuals may use their vlogging platform as a way to vent their views, or even seek closure from the outside world. In some respect, the fact that one expresses personal opinions about a certain matter highlights a level of narcissism, especially since vlogging is focused on one’s self in relation to self-promotion and self-absorption. To some extent, Goffman’s (1959) ‘notions on the presentation of self’ reinforces this, in which three main themes were identified for creating online performances. Vloggers in fact utilize one or three of these themes, including the employment of vlogs as diaries, vlogs as a means to indulge in narcissism, and media for identity expression.
Jones (1990) identified that there are a number of self-presentation methods that one may use when aiming to create a desired impression towards their audience, which range from ingratiation, competence, intimidation, exemplification and supplication. Each strategy highlights the aim that one may have in presenting themselves online and their desired outcome, for example, ingratiation refers to when the desired goal is to be liked by the audience. Competence is used when an individual wants to be perceived as talented or capable to the viewer. Vloggers utilise these means in order to create a desired response after publishing their video, and this could be as a means to engage the viewer. Proctor and Kitchen (2002) stated that “Communicators need to have access to extensive and ongoing data gathering and information services in order to provide a degree of predictability as to which messages to deploy to inﬂuence which customers.” Vloggers are fully aware that the message they send out can influence a level of predictability, especially after they begin to understand and gain a level of awareness about what their audience perceives as good, engaging content, and this ultimately may have some impact on the way vloggers present themselves via this online platform.
Through extensive means of self-presentation, vloggers exhibit their personal lives in a virtual form and utilize these methods in order to gain a desired response from the audience. In actual fact, each vlogger shapes their own reality and identity through their vlogs, and seek to be fulfilled through this online video blogging platform through numerous means. Their presentation of self is important in conveying the message they wish to put across, by means of engaging the viewer, and thus creating likeminded communities.
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