Outcomes of personal branding in a virtual third place : A qualitative study on streamer-viewer relationships on Twitch.tv
Abstract: Personal branding has been central to the marketing field of study for the past few decades, as its flexibility has found a place in professional, academic, and social contexts. The relationship between loyalty and customer satisfaction has been explored throughoutexisting literature, where the concept of customer delight, or the act of exceeding customer expectations, has recently been the subject of many conversations regarding its effects on loyalty.The main purpose of this thesis is to develop a deeper understanding of the role that personal branding plays in relation to brand loyalty in the context of a virtual third place. We aimed to explore the outcomes of customer satisfaction and customer delight as the viewer’s emotional ties to the streamer’s brand, and their sense of belonging to the virtual third place assist in meeting and exceeding their expectations, and how these ultimately impact their desire to support the streamer. Personal branding, its effect on customer satisfaction and delight, and the outcome of loyalty can be of interest to streamers, and the attributes fostered in virtual third places can be important for society in general. We identified a research gap in terms of live streaming in connection to personal branding, as well as the concept of virtual third places being rather unexplored. There is a need to research the outcomes of personal branding in the form of loyalty and customer satisfaction and delight, as the digital context we live in has opened the possibility to pursue a variety of careers, one being live streaming, shaped by one’s personal brand.We have conducted a qualitative study in order to achieve the purpose of this thesis. We conducted a total of eleven semi-structured interviews with both streamers and viewers on the live streaming platform Twitch.tv. Through these interviews we gain deeper understanding on the central role that personality plays in a streamer’s personal brand, and how it is the leading driver for community interaction and engagement, as well as entertainment of viewers. The themes identified in our thematic network analysis were personal branding, virtual third places, customer satisfaction and delight, and brand loyalty. Our findings were summarized in a table that showcases the role of personality, as well as on a conceptual model that describes the interactions between each of the aforementioned themes. We concluded that while there are some differences between viewer and streamer perception, a personality-based personal brand seems to be key in order to deliver customer satisfaction and delight, as well as to develop a loyal following. Furthemore, we also concluded that a streamer’s online community has the potential to align with the attributes required for a third place, making them a viable option to search for genuine and fulfilling social interaction.
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