BCM 241

Digital Artefact – iwaste_ewaste

Contextual Report

For my Digital Artefact (DA) for Media Ethnographies, I created an Instagram account entitled iwaste_ewaste. This account is designed to raise awareness amongst my media niche, Australia’s Generation Z, (my generation, born 1996 – 2012), about the environmental pollution and social injustice caused by the smart device industry; particularly the impact of e-waste, with a focus on Apple devices. 

According to blogger Edina Zejnilovic’s 2018 blog, ‘3 Factors that Make Instagram the Best Social Media Platform’, “Instagram has better content display, allows you to build your brand image through pictures and videos far more effectively than Facebook or Twitter or any other social media website.” (Zejnilovic, 2018)

There are not many content creators in my subject area on Instagram – hence my choice of this platform. I uploaded 27 Instagram posts from 8 September to 27 October. (I posted behind schedule as iwaste _ewaste was not my pitch subject.)

I follow sustainability creators like ‘Greenpeace’ on Instagram, ‘The Verge’ on YouTube and ‘Apple Sucks’ on Reddit, and explore their treatment of e-device controversies, to gain ideas for my own posts and thus reinforce their messages. I also want to learn how they persuade their demographics, and adapt this to Gen Z.

My account focused on Apple just before and after its 2021 product release, However, inspired by Greenpeace, I also discussed ‘general’ e-device production problems and e-waste issues. I did this early in my posts, to educate my perhaps, somewhat uninformed media niche, about this subject. I used this post style throughout my posting timeframe. Before and after the Apple release, I concentrated on the theme of ‘informed, sustainable tech purchases’. After the release, when the controversies regarding the new Apple products were being publicised on Apple Sucks, The Verge, and in the media generally, I adopted these themes in my posts.

To maximise my posts’ persuasiveness, I researched how to market to Australia’s Generation Z. As well as the social media sites mentioned, I consulted other researchers on the topic, and adapted a communication style I hoped would attract Generation Z.

Social media is important to us digital natives, who value our peers’ opinions. I tried to create an empathic social presence that Gen-Zers could engage with. I needed to humanise my posts’ content and deliver a direct message with visual impact, concise text and though-provoking questions to convince my media niche of my message and to build the swift attraction and growth of a following amongst my social demographic. (Alexsalcedo, 2016)

I tried to create an online persona which reflected my real self that my media niche  could identify with; someone who cares about the environment, believes in social justice and wants to improve these. 

Posting often enabled me to communicate many persuasive appeals before Apple’s 2021 product release on 15 September. Thus, I could perhaps influence my media niche into making sustainable tech purchases. 

These factors were incorporated into my posting plan. To disseminate my ‘informed e-device purchase’ message to my media niche, I reiterated persuasive emotional appeals via different, confronting human images which criticised the tech industry. I posted pictures of destitute foragers in e-waste dumps, (Post 1), and photos of impoverished African child miners, (Post 17). I adhered to the maxim, ‘a good picture is worth a thousand words’. This suits the visual learning aspect of Gen-Zers. I also used visual intellectual appeals, like pictures of Rodin’s, ‘The Thinker,’ contemplating if he needed a new iPhone, (Post 4), and Apple being wealthier than the US Treasury Reserve, (Post 5). 

I extended both appeals in the accompanying attention-getting headlines and captions and kept the content penetrating yet concise. I used brief written text ending with thought-provoking questions. With this rationale I appealed to Gen-Zers’ desire to share and benefit by making the world a better place while wanting to make their own decisions. (McCrindle, 2016)

When I began posting, I had 26 ‘likes’, but no ‘comments’. Even though my small following was declining slightly, I used participatory observation, specifically sensory observation, (my perception), for my qualitative analysis. My interpretation was that my approach was working. So, I continued in the same post-style. (Moore, 2020)

However, my posts’ ‘likes’ declined. I decided more objective, accurate qualitative evidence, as well as quantitative data was needed. I created an Excel Spreadsheet to undertake a longitudinal, (observational), survey to interpret the findings. 

This subsequent, more detailed qualitative observation and combined quantitative analysis, revealed that a meme-style post, (Post 13), uploaded on 18 September, (a departure in post stye to test my media niche’s reaction), had delivered my first two ‘comments’.

This I took as the accurate measure of the successful reception of my sustainability message. This combined participatory observation interpretation and longitudinal survey analysis revealed that I did not react to the decrease in my message’s penetration soon enough. I made an error by not responding to my media niche’s feedback earlier. (Institute for Work & Health, 2015)

When I began posting again on 22 October, after a two-week break, (due to uni assessments), I used the results of participant observation and its quantitative analysis more effectively, which helped me devise more successful posts. I checked the media niche’s reaction closely regarding the construction and reception of the meme posts and noted their success, so I could adapt these for future posts.

I continued to upload in this more successful meme style. My following is still small, but all 6 subsequent meme posts, (Posts 22 to 27), have drawn a total of 30 positive comments. My media niche is now responding to my sustainability message. 

Through more comprehensive, accurate research, I learned that my online persona needs to incorporate some levity; that you can teach/persuade through using humour, even though the posts’ content is serious. Memes are funny and/or satirical and often feature celebrities or images from pop culture. These are important attention-getters and message-conveyers for Gen Z. 

My autoethnographic research revealed my media niche is responding to my sustainability ideas. By using my Gen Z-self as a barometer, I have selected meme posts which appeal to other Gen Zers. Thus, my sensory/perceptual observations are working.  

Overall, as shown, I adhered to the theoretical concepts in the lecture material and research in designing and evaluating iwaste_ewaste, particularly by utilising mainly participatory observation. In doing so, I learned from my mistakes, responded to feedback and adapted/changed the contents’ ‘sustainable tech purchase message’. 

Now that I have achieved the correct formula for these posts, I hope this will expand my Instagram following. I have also posted my sustainability message on Facebook and Twitter and hope to enlarge my media niche in the future. 

References:

Alexsalcedo, 2016, ‘Marketing To Generation Z (It’s time to forget about Millennials)’, MNI, weblog post, 6 June, viewed 7 October 2021, <https://www.mni.com/blog/author/alexsalcedo&gt;.

Moreau, E 2021, ‘The Best Time to Post on Instagram in 2021’, Lifewire, weblog post, 19 January, viewed 6 October 2021, <https://www.lifewire.com/best-time-of-day-to-instagram-3485858&gt;.

Hamilton, I 2019, ‘Instagram has avoided Facebook’s trust problem, beating its parent as app of choice for Generation Z’, Business Inside, weblog post, 17 March, viewed 5 October 2021, <https://www.businessinsider.com.au/instagram-is-more-popular-among-generation-z-than-facebook-2019-3&gt;.

Lopez, B 2021, ‘2021 Social Media Trends: Meme Marketing’, Greenfox, weblog, viewed 13 October 2021, <https://greenfox.io/2021-social-media-trends-meme-marketing/&gt;.

McCrindle 2016, Generation Z defined; the five characteristics of today’s student, online video, 19 April, McCrindle, viewed 6 October 2021, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvCwcQmnyfE&gt;.

Chris Moore 2020, BCM241 Media Ethnographies: Methods and Methodologies Part Two – Observation and Autoethnography, 8 August, Chris Moore, viewed 11 August 2021, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7s3vpvCw4MA&gt;.

Institute for Work & Health, 2015, ‘Cross-sectional vs. longitudinal studies’, Institute for Work & Health, August, viewed 1 November 2021, <https://www.iwh.on.ca/what-researchers-mean-by/cross-sectional-vs-longitudinal-studies&gt;.

3 thoughts on “BCM 241

  1. Hey really liked the idea of your digital artefact. I think you have done a great job in being vey clear in your timeline of production for this digital artefact. You didn’t include much in your plan on how you plan on completing the ethnographic part of your digital artefact. Would suggest to be more clear on that moving forward, I do like how you included a lot of links regarding the topic. Overall I’m very excited to see the future of this DA.

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  2. Hey Adrian, The concept of cooking to bring people together is brilliant and definitely needed during these times. The video you have created provides a great overview of Cooking on the bright side and the need for it. When looking over the blog I have a couple of things that you might want to incorporate as you go along these include:

    Linking to the statistics you have used in your blog post. This allows people to visit the post and get an updated message keeping the post relevant and useful for individuals looking.

    Next is linking to your media niche and Feild site post in order to show the scope of your ethnographical research.

    On the topic of ethnographical research, you haven’t particularly referenced how this fits into your ethnographical research, such as the frameworks you are using and how you will be interacting with your media niche in relation to ethnography. This could be a key thing you can add in the following posts you are making.

    I have also done some exploring into your topic and I believe you could benefit from exploring this blog post that covers many recipes and Instagram accounts related to your topic. here

    https://www.thestudentfoodproject.com/post/8-student-foodies-you-need-to-follow-on-instagram

    Overall I am excited to see the progression of cooking on the Brightside. All the best with it and I will be watching regularly to see what you come up with.

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  3. Hi Adrian, I thoroughly enjoyed watching your beta presentation and learning about what you have done so far. Changing your digital artefact mid way through the semester can be a scary thing to do but I think you have made a good decision as I could hear the enthusiasm when you were talking about your new DA about e waste. I enjoyed how you described your ideal target demographic in detail as knowing who exactly your target audience allows you to conduct clear and precise auto-ethnographic research on your niche. I found that you incorporated your peer comment as well as your understanding of the lecture materials effectively as you gave a couple of examples of how your peer comments and lecture material made you think about what you could do to improve DA. The use of hashtags in your Instagram page is great as well as it is allowing your niche to view your content.

    However, I did find reading through your blog post having watched your presentation that it was a bit repetitive as you had already mentioned the ‘6 Steps to Build a Good DA’ in your presentation. I think perhaps you could have mentioned some different readings from the lecture material possibly including how you incorporated some analytical framework techniques as this would have improved the professionalism of your post. Although you gave a brief explanation of the types of content you have been posting I feel as though you need to define your persona a bit clearer. One other thing I would add to your blog post would be tags as they can invite a larger audience to view your content which can ultimately lead to more engagement on your Instagram page. Overall I really enjoyed watching your presentation. Good luck with the rest of the digital artefact!

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