New additions to DigitalMe collection are …

New additions to DigitalMe collection are contestants for this year’s BU Research Photography competition. This year Charlie Simmons and Elizabeth Falkowska are taking part in the research photography competition.


Charlie’s work is digital tethering and in particular understanding Digital Immersion. Charlie is studying digital immersion within the Streaming and E-Sports context.





Elizabeth’s work is about challenges the advertising industry is facing due to emergence and adoption of RAISA (Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Service Automation).


Vote for their entries via:

More about these studies you will be able to hear at the Digital Me Exhibition: Chapter II, on 16th June at Bournemouth University.


Slacktivism to Activism conversion is possible and leading to success

by Elvira Bolat

Original content was published via LinkedIn:

Launched at the red carpet events the Time’s Up movement is gradually moving it audiences towards discussing further the issues of gender inequality, abuse of power and sexual harassment in workplaces and industries. It is not about awareness anymore but about taking actions, hearing stories of others and supporting victims.

From the  Time’s Up campaign example we see that social media campaigns are leading to more than just slacktivist behaviour. Society and audiences are listening and acting on information; they express empathy and they learn to be cautious. In the past two years my research colleague @FreyaSamuelson-Cramp and I have been looking into issues around outcomes achieved by social media marketing when it comes to promoting and engaging audiences and society with social causes, i.e. child abuse, poverty, immigration etc. Over the course of these two years we conducted empirical research into slacktivist behaviour and of course we have interpreted and followed through results achieved by famous social marketing campaigns such as IceBucketChallenge and KONY2012. In most of these cases we have seen amazing results in terms of awareness. Our study does show that slacktivists are engaging with the online social marketing campaign due to participatory and solidarity culture of social media. Psychological and emotional motives are strongly utilised by most social marketing campaigns, hence, they do achieve number of likes, shares and reshares – activity metrics of social media engagement. However, most of these campaigns, just like any social media content, are eventually lost in timelines of content, forgotten and dusted. What is different about Time’s Up? Below are some headings that I believe make Time’s Up a truly successful and different social media campaign.


Time’s Up movement created from the #MeToo campaign brings to light stories of sexual harassment in workplaces, entertainment industry and overall gender inequality issues where males are abusing own rights and power to undermine, disrespect and take advantage of women. The story of Men Power, and gender inequality (or should I say, Women Powerlessness) is documented in fairytales such as Cinderella (only prince can make cinderella a princess), Red Riding Hood (only the hunter could save the poor girl and her granny) is accompanying young children, leading up to embedded into upbringing differences in girls and boys. Today, however, stories are changing with Elsa relying on her sister to rule her land and Moana being the only person to save her people and in fact give back a demigod abilities to ‘powerful’ Mawi. And quite frankly these stories are not about battle of powers but the partnership of genders. #MeToo campaign, in light of these new stories, is not about females or males but about a suffer that abuse of power creates. This story united people, families, celebrities and their fans. Solidarity, community and emotions are three components that were critical stimuli to make #MeToo campaign a relatable story.


Time’s Up movement is a continuous campaign that is reactive and carefully planned at the same time. However, its success is hugely depends on utilising omni-channel communication with events marketing at the heart. Major entertainment events such as Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Grammys are platform to talk to all people across the world using celebrities are transmitters of the message. This time, however, victims themselves play a role in communicating their messages and having a community of supporters by their side. The show embeds solidarity and partnership – this makes a positive attitude and support unavoidable. Watch my favourite speech by Janelle Monáe during Grammys: 

Powerful, is not it? So, I can watch this speech over and over and share, reshare and comment because of social media channels like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc. TV channels, magazine covers, bloggers, any social media user have now shared their opinions and created own content to demonstrate solidarity and support. Bundle of channels and, hence, webs of conversations enable the Time’s Up to bring in financially and capabilities viable and critical partners (i.e. volunteer lawyers) together to help victims of sexual harassment and deliver a justice. Content and ubiquitous conversation enable victims to feel supported and speak out without feeling ashamed and hope to be supported.

It is not ends on communication and promotion only, we see changes in products and services – the whole marketing industry is reacting to #MeToo story with wearable gadgets being introduced to help victims in the incidents of attacks.

Overall, it is because of one single story and consistent and coherent multichannel transmission of the story, Time’s up, through crowdfunding vis-a-vis likes and shares, is building an army of supporters and people who truly can make difference to victims’ lives and build in policies and regulations, and change attitudes.


Time’s up through awareness and move to interest and education is now slowly taking its audiences to stage of action and meaningdul engagement. This campaign is not about one reaction but Time’s Up aims to achieve a gradual combination of emotional and behavioural changes. With the global events at heart, the campaign is bringing in to spotlight the Story. However, behind the scene it enables others to conduct further research and form own opinion vis-a-vis social media conversations and follow-up media coverage. Now, gradually we see key stakeholders being involved in making visible and actionable changes that are to affect all of us via policies and cultural value shifts. This is what drastically differentiates Time’s Up from other social marketing campaigns. Here we see gradual journey, that all of us within the audience, conduct: from Awareness stage to Interest, Desire and now Action. Integrated marketing communications and careful mapping of audiences’ behavioural journey enables that conversion of slacktivists into activists.


Social media listening is important part of a marketing research. It is mostly used in pre-campaign phases to shape story and make it relevant, current (or timely), choose channels and personas. However, in my article about Universities marketing I did write that social media listening needs to be everyday job of today’s T-shaped marketers: social media listening is not just about research but it is part of content development and social media storytelling – sensing when to release next chapter of your story, who to be the hero of your chapter. Time’s Up is doing this quite well and quite frankly it is not channel or event related. For instance after Golden Globes, Grammys and BAFTA events could easily shift attention to different phase of audience journey (as per above). However, Time’s Up did listen and learnt that audience was not ready yet and education (interest, desire) phase was to be prolonged.


Although the campaign is aimed at everyone, there is a key persona for the Time’s Up – a victim (past, present and future) of sexual harassment. This persona is not narrowly described by her/his social media networks and other touchpoints, demographic and lifestyle profiling; this persona is defined by his/her journey in relation to the Story (as per above). This is quite different to other nonprofit or for profit marketing campaigns. Time’s Up is becoming a gradual part of its personas’ journeys, hence the campaign is underpinned by engagement approach. For instance, we see now gradual changes in attitudes that make victims of sexual harassment to be open about their stories. Next, Time’s Up is aiming to build a strong and leading to actual results support ecosystem that will enable victims to ‘break the silence’ and come forward. Future personas or these to be educated, and hence not to ever be victims, are part of the journey through education and learning and reassurance that this topic is no longer a taboo subject.

We are still to observe and learn about the Time’s Up campaign. However, one thing is clear about this social marketing campaign, it places key characters at the heart of its story, listens to conversations and evaluates readiness of audiences to proceed to the next phases of customer journey. It clearly uses a nonconformist – slacktivist – activist conversion as a foundation for its phased but continuous communication.


Universities need to adapt commercial brands-led marketing practices of social media listening and user-generated storytelling

by Elvira Bolat

UK universities still need to come to terms with the fact that the whole sector is experiencing great changes triggered by marketisation of higher education (HE) sector. However, given the changes are impacting the sector with such a speedy pace, commercial brand and marketing communication practices need to be adopted immediately – to remain competitive. In times of Teaching Excellence Framework when each UK university is graded for its commitment to teaching quality and student service, we now admitted that students are consumers. However, we still may argue that consumption of higher education is still a different process where prosumption, co-creation of experiences and students’ active role within the consumption process are significant elements of the educational journey. This is not the point we have tried to make in our recently published paper at the Journal of Marketing Management. Instead, we are calling higher education institutions (HEIs) to adopt “market-driven business practices” and attempt “to listen to and leverage student-generated social media content” (Bolat and O’Sullivan, 2017). “However, the power of content creators needs to be left or shifted to students, whereas the role of HE marketers, educators and other stakeholders is in listening and engaging via students as brand personas, students who truly believe in a specific HEI brand but also are able to generate authentic stories and conversations with current and prospective students” (Bolat and O’Sullivan, 2017).

The paper itself is based around a social media artefact, ‘This Is Where I Study’ (TIWIS) Facebook page, created by students in the form of dialogues and content.


Oxford as Student Destination: TIWIS team’s field trip to Oxford, May 2015. Photographer: Mahmut Bolat

Extract from the paper adds:

“TIWIS is essentially a ‘social journalism’ artefact that caters for international students seeking to study in UK universities. TIWIS utilised the social media and marketing expertise of BU journalism and marketing staff and students to produce reportage that prospective foreign students can draw from… BU students worked with teams from other UK HEIs for content production. The BU journalism team was drawn from MA Multimedia Journalism students, with the marketing team drawn from MSc Marketing Management students. The ultimate intention of the TIWIS project was to create student-related and relevant content with the intention of stimulating continuous students’ conversations which would first benefit and improve experiences of international students studying in the UK and second enable the generation of student-generated data that can be analysed and underpin the UK HEIs’ marketing initiatives as well as other business decisions.” (Bolat and O’Sullivan, 2017).

We have adapted three-stage analysis of netnographic data related to engagement with TIWIS page and content and found that:

“students’ engagement with social media platforms such as Facebook is dynamic in nature. It comprises behavioural expressions (manifestations and actions such as likes and shares as well opinion comments) and individuals’ experiences (subjective in nature stories and comments of personal experiences and views). Hence, netnographic analysis allows capturing actual behaviours via longitudinal ‘big data’ sets and support HEIs in proactive branding. Analysis of social media data demonstrates the value of encouraging and making accessible authentic conversations in order to create student-centred content.” (Bolat and O’Sullivan, 2017).

Read full paper at:

Full reference: Bolat, E. and O’Sullivan, H., 2017. Radicalising the marketing of higher education: learning from student-generated social media data. Journal of Marketing Management, pp.1-22.

HENRYs paper is presented at the Academy of Marketing 2017 Conference

Gemma Kennedy has travelled to Hull this week to present results of exciting research on the role digital tech plays in the luxury consumption process of millennials. This project adopted innovative elements of netnographic research within focus group study. To communicate results of this research we have used original illustrations contributed to us by Lucy Turnbull, Arts University Bournemouth graduate.

Read full conference paper via

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Let us present HENRY family :-)

by Gemma Kennedy

This exploratory study examined the influence that social media has on the consumption of luxury products. We all know that social media has created a different dimension of consumers in various categories of products and services, and for luxury products in particular. That being, the ‘aspirational consumer’, whose desires for luxury derive from content produced on social media. Often, despite their strong yearning for luxury goods, due to economic reasons, aspirational consumers are unable to frequently purchase luxury. Social media provides an avenue for aspirational consumers to conspicuously consume without the need to purchase, enabling them to use luxury brands to create value amongst themselves. Aspirational consumers are mostly found amongst HENRYs (high earners, not yet rich).

Would you consider yourself one of HENRYs?

Research into the consumption of luxury goods has frequently been studied through the prism of Veblen’s (1899) Theory of Conspicuous Consumption (Truong and McColl 2011). Studies around the influence of social media on conspicuous consumption are fragmented. The literature reviewed revealed there is a need for an in depth understanding of the influence that social media has on HENRYs consumers behaviour prior to purchase. A hybrid qualitative approach using online and face-to-face focus group data was utilised within this study to map a journey of HENRYs consumption behaviour. WhatsApp was used as a focus group facilitation tool and this in fact is considered as originality of this research as no published studies report on the use of messaging apps as the qualitative research tools.

The map that we have developed as per illustration below reflects the role that social media has amongst the conspicuous consumption of luxury brands.

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 19.23.17

HENRYs’ map of conspicuous consumption, original illustrations by Lucy Turnbull

Findings highlight that status consumption is prevalent amongst HENRY consumers. The proliferation of social media usage further encourages HENRYs need for status goods. Social media provides individuals with an immediate environment for luxury conspicuous consumption. Social media influencers and user-generated media allow individuals to demonstrate their luxury status through the creation of social media content. HENRYs wish to emulate these behaviours from status influencers to produce their own social media content as evidence of their own luxury possessions. The reactions that derive from status posting satisfy their narcissist ambitions.

This research has been peer-reviewed and presented at the Academy of Marketing 2017 Conference in Hull, UK. The paper was praised by all attendees of the Consumer Behaviour track.

Reference for the conference paper: Kennedy, G. and Bolat, E., 2017. Meet the HENRYs: A hybrid focus group study of conspicuous luxury consumption in the social media context. In: Academy of Marketing 2017 3-6 July 2017 Hull, United Kingdom.

Full version of the conference paper can be found here:

Below, see presentation slides from the Conference.

Parallel Worlds

by Samreen Ashraf

Men have become the tools of their tools”

Henry David Thoreau

Walking down the road you might see someone wearing a Manchester United t-shirt, taking sips from their Starbucks cup while face timing on their iPhone. An onlooker might conclude that this person is an avid football (more precisely Man United) fan with a strong taste for coffee who loves the innovative side of Apple.

In a second scenario you come across various social media accounts of a successful manager where all of these accounts portray her differently. For example, she is a party goer on Facebook, twitter shows her a well-informed individual, snapchat indicates her crazy stories, Instagram shows her photographer side (and hence the attached picture) whereas LinkedIn has her all achievements listed.

By going through these two scenarios it can be easily inferred that almost everybody is living two lives these days, an online vibrant life and an offline real life.

Whether or not these people know that by consuming certain products offline (the first scenario) or online (the second) they are creating their persona about who they are, what they are like and what they enjoy the most depending on their situations. These personas lead to certain labels attached to these people which can be also termed their identities and these impact their decisions including consumption.

Thus consumption provides a chance to the consumers to build and express their self-image and identities through their product/service choices not only to themselves but to the people around them.

Consumer identity might not have been as relevant a topic before but now due to the explosion of social media, mobile technology and big data; it impacts on everyday aspects of life.


Parallel Worlds, photographer: Joao Sousa, model: Samreen Ashraf

This whole scenario has changed marketing communications throughout the globe and hence the ways companies interact with the consumers.

A significant difference is evident between the interaction methods used by the companies currently and ten years ago. There is a revolution in the way organisations are developing their marketing messages knowing what consumers stand for and the labels they attach to themselves. Consumer identity is also referred to as the core of customer relation management that means attracting the customers on the basis of congruence between them and the company. For example the Lloyds tag line and their TVC appeals the customers on the basis of trust and security which assures the consumers that the bank will always be with them regardless of their life situation. In another example, a person who considers him/herself environment friendly (green) would rather opt for an e cigarettes than traditional tobacco.

With examples like these, it can be concluded that incorporating consumer identities in marketing messages can be a way forward for companies to succeed in the global market place.

Digital Every Day

by Maria Musarskaya 

We live in a digital era, which can be described in various aspects: the digitalisation of information storage, the emergence of web society, the replacement of face-to-face interaction with digital social networks, the decrease in the influence of traditional media, and the constant need to be in-the-know of what is happening in the world. There are many characteristics of what the digital era is and what it offers the consumers and some of such characteristics are contradicting, for example: interactivity, dissociation, momentariness, timeless, and convergence. The discussion of social network phenomenon and traditional media crisis serves in revealing the following relevant issues of the information space: the information content creation, dissemination, and changes in consumer behaviour.


Digital Every Day, photographer: Andrea Gette, model: Maria Musarskaya

A recent trend in any business practice is to fulfill the need of transforming customer experience and customer engagement through mobile devices. As is seen in the relevant photograph, the consumer is present in a social setting, yet is using a digital device to communicate and to share her experiences with people other than those she is surrounded by. In this instance the real world and the online existence of the consumer are converged and her life is being lived yet is being transmitted online. The consumer is more connected than ever before, yet the social interaction in a physical setting is hindered by the presence of technology.

Maria’s life in the real world and online has merged as almost every aspect of her life in some way depends on her connectivity to the digital world.