Final Report

Overall, I think my project went well, though it wasn’t without a few setbacks. The first week I wanted to look at the social media rhetoric of the vegan shoe brand Cult of Coquette.  I had read an article about them and thought they were more well-known than they are.  Part of the reason why they aren’t so well-known, I quickly discovered, is their gross lack of an online presence.  I’m not sure if this is intentional and part of the branding itself, trying to create an air of mystery and pique the interest of those who hear of the brand, but given what I have learned throughout this project I don’t think it’s a very good marketing tactic.  Instead, I covered Stella McCartney, because it is a similar brand as both are vegan friendly.

Some of Stella McCartney’s rhetorical appeals include the use of ethos. The end of her About Stella page on her website states, “Stella McCartney’s commitment to sustainability is evident throughout all her collections and is part of the brand’s ethos to being a responsible, honest, and modern company.” This page also states that she is a lifelong vegetarian and that she never uses real leather or fur in any of her designs.

Overall her presence seems distant and intentionally aloof. She is a very busy woman, of course, but her posts tend to have short descriptions – often only one sentence – and she uses very few hashtags. She only posts about herself and her brand, which is a good way to keep her fans updated on the two topics, but she does not, for example, use trending hashtags or post photos that are amusing, which are tactics that some use to gain more fans. She uses the same hashtags across sites, which is part of her branding but also makes content that is specifically hers easier to find. For the most part, she is very consistent with her content. She posts regularly, and tends to post the same updates on each of her pages.

Her punctuation changes depending on the content she is posting, regardless of where it is posted. She takes a formal, informative tone when introducing designs from her collections, and ends sentences with a full stop. Personal posts, such as the one about her jacket, tend to use a more excitable tone along with exclamation marks. She also signs the personal posts with “x Stella”, making the posts seem even more personal.

BatDad primarily utilizes pathos in his content. This can particularly be noticed in content that includes his wife being annoyed with him or his children causing mischief. While these are regular occurrences meant solely for comedic effect, there is a level in which the viewers connect because they understand how frustrating or aggravating certain situations can be. His other posts also use pathos through word choice.

BatDad’s content is almost always titled with one to five words. There is only one post that differs from the rest by having a lengthy text post included with the photo. This is found on his Instagram page. There are eleven sentences, three of which, toward the end of the post, end with exclamation marks. The same photo on his Twitter page has the typical short description, merely informing the audience that BatDad t-shirts are back in stock without offering any of the backstory that was found on the Instagram post. Also, this photo was not found on his Facebook page, however a link to buy BatDad shirts was found in the About section of the page. He also encourages fan submissions by posting or sharing content that is submitted and thanking the original poster or creator of the content. This may drive people to create content for BatDad in the hopes that he will share it and give them credit publicly.

Lowe’s uses both logos and ethos. Logos can be found in posts directed toward consumers to convince them to buy a certain product or try a do-it-yourself project with items purchased at Lowe’s. Lowe’s presents itself as a one-stop, more-than-just-hardware store. Lowe’s also spends time creating a business ethos. This is noticed most on Lowe’s website, which provides several links and photos to good deeds that are being done directly by those who work for Lowe’s, or improvement and research projects funded by Lowe’s.  They also play up the roles of tradition and family through photographs and some word choice.

Monster Energy primarily uses pathos, because almost all of their promotions involve a passion for activities such as travel, skiing, and skateboarding. Monster Energy also caters toward the younger generation with a use of emojis, such as a crown, in their posts. They also use slang, even in their hashtags, such as “#killinit”. This is their way of promoting their brand as youthful, energetic, relevant, and “cool”. Part of their energy also comes from their punctuation as they tend to use exclamation marks.

Primarily, the brands seemed to use pathos the most often, ethos second most often, and logos the least often.  It depended on the brand and the type of content they were posting, and each brand had tendency to stick with one type of appeal.  It seemed as though brands would change their appeals according to platform.  Stella McCartney mentions her vegan friendliness on her About page, and Lowe’s talks about charitable works on their About page, but both rarely talk about those things on social media.  The tone used on the websites for Stella McCartney and Lowe’s were also different than the tones they use on social media, but Monster Energy kept the same tone.

The websites themselves are also telling.  Monster Energy is all black with bright green accents.  This is part of their branding as the main product they sell also comes in these colors, but it also makes everything on the page stand out and appear energetic.

Stella McCartney’s website is white and clean, with everything neatly organized and easy to find.  This makes sense as she is a designer and so she would want things to be aesthetically pleasing but also functional.  She does make herself out to be a self made woman, and presents her many achievements in the forms of text and a timeline.  I think this is partially because she is a woman in what has long been a male dominated career, and wants people to take her seriously.  However, I think even more likely, is because her father is Paul McCartney, and she does not want her success to be because of her relation to him.  She is setting herself apart.  She retains the simplicity in her social media posts by keeping the text short and to the point.  Her hashtag use is minimal as she allows the photo to be the focus of the viewer’s attention.  Also on her About page, she has two photos, one black and white and one in high key, muted colors.  I feel the black and white is more about her being a designer – she has a serious, partially covered face, the collar of the top she is wearing is more fashionable than an every day look, and the photo is in black and white, which is sometimes viewed as being more artistic.  The color photo is more natural, and I feel reflects her as a person rather than a designer.  The color adds life to the photo, and the photo is a selfie, which has a more personal feel.

Lowe’s presents the opposite on their About page.  Even the first sentence of their description mentions “home”.  They also give a brief history of the company, which makes them not only seem established but also like a hub for family and traditions.  Like Monster Energy, their website has a lot of white and blue, which are the brands colors.  It helps to keep the site appear more organized and allows the products to stand out.

In my own blog, I tried to mimic some of what the above brands did to promote my own brand for this project.  At the end of this project, my blog has 14 followers.  But, my Facebook page for this brand has 63, and is growing a little each day despite the fact that I have not posted new content in a while.  Part of the reason for this I think must be because a Facebook person with a couple thousand Facebook friends shared my page’s profile photo.  However, this was also a couple weeks ago, and in the past week I have had 33 new followers.  Only about 8 of the likes on my page are from people I actually know.  I noticed that being more personable and allowing people into my life, like BatDad, was more successful than keeping distance, like Stella McCartney.  The recipes were the most successful posts, and do-it-yourself projects were the second most successful, so I can see why Lowe’s posts so many DIY projects (aside from also sometimes advertising their products to be used in the projects).  Posts that use exclamation marks seem to get even more attention.  Overall I wish I had been a little more successful, but due to time constraints and having too many irons in the fire I was not able to put as much into this part of the project as I would have liked.  Still, I did learn a lot over the course of this project.

Week 1: Getting Started

This week, I started my research project.  I set up this blog and made my first post, which is basically just stating what my intention is with this blog.  I edited the About page, but because I already have a post on what this blog is about, I kept the description short.  Then I began looking up the brands I chose to look into over the next six weeks.  I thought it would be easiest to start out with a page listing the different brands.  I chose to create a separate page rather than putting this information in a blog post because the page is static and won’t be moved when I post more content so the information will always be easy to find, both for me and for others who come across this blog.  I organized the information in order of which brand I will look at from first to last, and linked to each of their websites and social media pages, keeping these in the same order for each brand so it’s consistent and organized.

I chose brands and companies that I am not very familiar with so I have no previous bias or other information. I also chose brands that are in very different categories – a vegan high fashion clothing line, an online persona, a hardware store, energy drinks, electronics, and a company that does just about everything from Post-Its to aircraft to animal care.  Similar companies may use similar rhetoric, so I thought the variety would be the best way to see differences between brands, as well as to see patterns between them.

Because I chose brands that are so different from each other, this made compiling the links on the Brands page an interesting task.  I wasn’t sure I would be able to find some of these brands on certain social media sites.

The most difficult one to find was Cult of Coquette.  Even their About page on their website was only a short definition of what the word “coquette” means.  It didn’t say anything about what products they sell, a mission statement, or anything else.  I also had a difficult time finding them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  I had to use Google to find these pages, and none of them linked to each other.  I am guessing that this is either because they are a somewhat newer brand, though it’s hard to tell how new since I haven’t found any information about this company.  It could also simply be the way a high fashion, vegan couture company handles things – a secretive, somewhat strange presence to draw people in, similar to what is expected of other high-fashion companies and designers.

BatDad is everywhere, except on Pinterest.  This is probably because Pinterest is primarily used by women, but also because it doesn’t fit into his funny BatDad persona.  Aside from this, BatDad is all over the internet and has millions of fans.  I have seen his videos shared on Facebook so I am looking forward to seeing how he uses words to make some kind of impact rather than just videos.

I wasn’t expecting to find the Lowe’s company page on Pinterest, but I wasn’t surprised as many Pinterest posts are known for being Do-It-Yourself projects, and Lowe’s offers products that can be used in such projects.

I was surprised to find Monster Energy on Pinterest, though it doesn’t look like a very active profile, as well as on Instagram.  So far it seems like a very high energy, action packed type of marketing, so I’m looking forward to examining how their rhetoric differs from other companies.

The easiest to find was Samsung Mobile.  The About section of their Facebook page provided external links to a few of their other online profile, such as Twitter, which made searching easier.

3M was difficult to find only because they appear to have so many offshoots of their company, which makes sense because their company offers such a wide variety of products.  Also, just typing “3M” isn’t always good enough to locate the company, because many other profiles unrelated to the company show up in the search results, since it is only one number and one letter.

Most of my focus this week was in setting up this blog, but also in developing my personal blog.  Since part of my project will be observing other brands and applying what I learn to my personal blog, I thought I should start by posting some content. This way I will have some preexisting content for people to see because I think that would seem more legitimate than a blog that may only have one or two posts.  I have already noticed that recipe posts seem to get the most attention, but I will also be posting other content such as art projects and outdoor adventures.  Since I am looking at social media rhetoric, I thought my blog should have the same social media connections that I will be looking at for other brands, so I created a Facebook page (four page likes so far), designed a profile photo and cover photo for the Facebook page using Canva and began linking content from my blog.  I also connected my Tumblr (five new followers, eight shares) and have been linking to my blog posts on Twitter (eleven favorites, one retweet), Instagram (40 likes, one comment), and Pinterest (nothing yet).  My blog itself has received 55 likes, 1 comment, and 12 followers.  Now I have a starting point for my online persona and will develop it using rhetorical strategies I observe over the next six weeks.

This upcoming week, I will be diving into Cult of Couture.

My Research Project – An Overview

My intention with this blog is to show progress on my research project for my electronic writing minor.  I will be studying social media marketing rhetoric, providing information on how users promote their brands through social media and how this promotion varies between sites. I will compile and present information in the forms of text, images, and links, and it will be used as a resource for anybody who is interested in learning more about this subject or perhaps to learn how to use social media for marketing.
I will be looking closely at how social media is used in marketing companies, products, and people. Specifically, I would like to examine six brands that use multiple social media websites to promote their brand, analyze their rhetoric, note patterns I find, and report on how this all varies from site to site. I would like to know whether these brands change their marketing rhetoric depending on the site used, or whether they use one post across all sites. I would also like to study whether they utilize tools such as hashtags to create campaigns and promote their brands, and note how the reactions to this may vary from site to site.

I will be taking this research a step further by applying it in real life to a personal blog of my own.  I will utilize many of the same tactics to promote this blog and will report once per week (minimum) on how effective these tactics have worked for me by keeping track of my blog analytics and interactions through views, likes, comments, and shares.
As I will be discussing five distinct brands, I will cover one type each week, aiming for at least 500 words per blog post to start and posting at least three times per week on each brand. For the first week, I will cover Cult of Coquette, a high-fashion vegan clothing brand. First, I will provide an overview of what the brand is, including photos and links to real examples. Next, I will look at the presence of this brand on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and possibly the presence on other sites such as Tumblr and Pinterest if applicable, noting specific rhetoric used and how often they post. Then, I will compare and contrast the data from these sites, noting patterns and changes each brand made from each site.
The second week I will cover BatDad, popular for his comedic videos portraying himself as Batman, a father in everyday situations, with the same analysis and posting schedule as before. The third week I will study Lowe’s, a hardware store. The fourth week I will study Monster Energy Drinks. The fifth week I will study Samsung Mobile. The sixth week I will study 3M, maker of things such as Post-Its and Scotch tape.

I will provide weekly reports each Sunday by 11:59 pm, on this blog. Each weekly report will cover what I accomplished during the previous week and be between 750-1ooo words in length.  I will also include a paragraph of 500 words (minimum) on how I have applied what I learned to my personal blog in an attempt to create a brand of my own, and whether the tactics I applied the week prior had been effective.
Time after this point in the project will be spent doing additional study, refining and expanding on the existing information, continuing with my personal blog, and preparing my final report.
While searching the internet, I have found multiple websites on how to use social media to market a brand. However, I have not found much on how brands should vary their tactics from site to site given the rhetoric expected for that website. I believe this blog could give more detailed information and further insight about this subject.
I will organize my blog by post, and by category, which in this case would be brand. I will create a page that lists and links back to each brand I am studying, as well as to each of their social media pages.
With this project, I intend to achieve a compilation of at least basic information on these brands and how their rhetoric varies between social networking sites, providing information for others or myself to expand upon or use.
I envision my project report being a blog post about my project as this will continue to keep my blog organized. This project report will cover what I have accomplished and what I have learned, through my research, through input from others who may possibly contribute through blog comments, and through my own learning about use of proper rhetoric on various sites to market a brand. In this project report I will provide one to three images from each brand as examples to show the differences in the rhetoric used between websites. I will explain what I originally set out to accomplish with this project and I will discuss any changes I may have made to the project along the way, and why those changes may have taken place.