From user-generated content to a user-generated aesthetic: Instagram, corporate vernacularization, and the intimate life of brands

Liron Simatzkin-Ohana*, Paul Frosh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper calls for renewed critical examination of the representational practices of commercial brands on social media, in particular their appropriation and adaptation of user-generated “amateur” or “vernacular” cultural styles. It proposes that this appropriation parallels processes of professionalization, influencer culture, and self-branding on social media. Focusing empirically on the official Instagram accounts of 12 leading fashion brands, we identify three distinctive patterns: (1) Regramming: sharing and crediting users’ photographs on the brands’ official feed; (2) Vernacular celebrity: posting the amateur-style photographs of a celebrity or model associated with the brand; (3) Brandfies: selfie-style images created by corporations where the brand appears to be a “self” performing its own representation. We argue that these appropriations position brands more fully as social beings, as tech-savvy cultural amateurs familiar with platform affordances, and as physically embodied selves. Self-branding is thus systematically complemented and brought to fulfilment by brand-“selfing.”

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1235-1254
Number of pages20
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Volume44
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

Keywords

  • Instagram
  • amateur
  • brands
  • commercial appropriation
  • fashion
  • selfie
  • user-generated content

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