Surfing the Instagram Wave : How surf brands can use Instagram to communicate with the surf tribe
Abstract: Background: The communication between brands and customers has shifted fromtraditional media like television to social media. This led to the emergence of social media brand communication. One of the best known and fastest-growing social media platforms is Instagram. Furthermore, social media enabled users to form online communities like consumer tribes, who group around a shared activity or passion. However, these consumer tribes are self-willed and need their own marketing approach. Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to explore how social media brand communication of surf brands on Instagram is experienced by the surf tribe. For this purpose, it is investigated whether Instagram is a suitable medium and which characteristics define the surf tribe. Then it will be examined how social media brand communication on Instagram has to be designed in order to create successful communication strategies. Method: This research followed an explorative research design. The research approach combined desk research for the literature review and qualitative semi-structured interviews with 15 participants of the surf tribe. Snowball sampling was used to identify participants. The empirical data was analyzed with the approach of thematic analysis. Conclusion: Instagram is a suitable platform to reach out to the surf tribe. The surf tribe shares common characteristics in terms of Instagram usage and consumption behaviour, which are relevant for creating appealing marketing messages. Surf brands should use firm generated content that focuses on the activity of surfing and encourage their followers to create and share user-generated surf content to increase their popularity and reach amongst the tribe.
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