Actors like interacting with fans

Social influencer

15.1 Introduction, objectives and procedure

YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are currently the most relevant social media platforms (Statista - The Statistics Portal 2018). On all three platforms, visual communication is an important or central basis for the success of the network. Texts are (mostly) only in second place on today's internet (Kuch 2013). As cameras are getting better and cheaper and the resolutions of the screens are getting better and better, this development of the importance of visual communication is intensified and accelerated.

In general, internet usage has increased significantly. According to the JAMES study, Swiss young people spend an average of 2 hours and 30 minutes on the Internet during the week (2014: 2 hours), and 3 hours and 40 minutes on weekends (2014: 3 hours). The daily internet usage times have increased by around 25% compared to 2014 (zhaw / Swisscom, 2016). At the same time, this trend represents great potential for new business models. For example, for social influencers. Social influencers are people who act as role models for a large social media community on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook or YouTube. Videos, images and texts are used to convey opinions and recommendations on products, services and holiday destinations, for example. They are bloggers, video makers, models, actors, but also journalists or athletes (Noah Zygmont 2017). These were able to record high growth in 2017 alone. For example, search queries for influencer marketing increased by 325% in 2017 (Firsching 2017).

Against this background, different questions arise about the phenomenon of “social influencers”: How is it possible that the audience numbers of social influencers, such as Julien Bam's YouTube video “Everyday Saturday (Parody)”, exceed the 24 million mark? This corresponds roughly to seven times the show "The Voice of Germany" on the TV channel ProSieben (Statista - The Statistics Portal 2015). In this context, there are new opportunities for marketing to reach specific target groups. This shows different advantages in this context: Firstly, influencer marketing usually reaches a much larger target audience than many "classic" marketing measures. For example, the influencer Caro Daur has 1.3 million followers on Instagram and the fashion magazine Vogue Germany only about 220,000. Second, the advertising is more credible from the target audience's point of view because it is conveyed through a well-known person. Social influencers are the "new stars" (on the Internet).

Celie O'Neil-Hart (Contributor, Video Marketing at Google) and Howard Blumenstein (Product Marketing Manager, Strategy and Insights at YouTube B2B) were able to show that 70% of American young people trust YouTube stars more than the usual celebrities (Celie O'Neil-Hart 2016). It is therefore not surprising that some companies, such as the traditional hotel Waldhaus in Flims (Switzerland), are already relying almost entirely on influencer marketing (Donati 2017). But what exactly are the prerequisites for someone to become so famous so quickly and be so influential through social media alone?

The present elaboration provides information on answering the previously asked question in the form of a visual and auditory analysis of selected videos from the most successful German social influencers on YouTube. The aim is to analyze and present the factors that lead social influencers to build “communities of several thousand to millions of people”, to be seen by them as role models and opinion makers, and thereby create a relationship. The in YouTube video analysis carried out in the empirical part based on defined visual and auditory analysis criteria. This analysis is supposed to Make patterns, similarities and differences apparent and together answer the questions asked on the basis of a short theoretical basis.

15.2 Theoretical foundations

15.2.1 Social Media Platforms and Social Influencers

The goal of a social media platform is to digitally network people with one another. Everyone is free to register on a social media platform with an Internet-enabled device and to publish information. The publication of the information works by means of news in text form, photos, videos from general to special interest topics. They serve, for example, the exchange of users, the discussion of topics, the sharing of tips and mutual help (Für-Gründer.de, no date). Fig. 15.1 shows a brief overview of the most widely used social media platforms. It should be noted, however, that the developments and the speed of change in this context are so high that the presentation is probably out of date when the article was published.

Although influencer marketing, social influencing and social influencer are current terms in connection with digital marketing, they can basically (in a different operational form) be traced back to the 18th century. As early as 1760, Josiah Wedgwood, founder of a pottery, used influencer marketing by being able to inspire the English royal family for its goods, which subsequently acted as an advocate. Brands later invented characters that were supposed to serve as "influencers". For example, the well-known white and red “Santa Claus” from Coca-Cola 1923 or “Tony the Tiger” from Frosted Flakes 1952 (noGRE 2017). However, with the advent of social media platforms, the term “social influencer” has grown in importance in recent years.

The definition of the term “social influencer” is ambiguous and has many influencing factors. This is also clearly shown by the study by Olapic (2018) and the discussions by Connolly (2018). In the survey of 4000 participants between the ages of 16 and 61 in America, Great Britain, France and Germany, the following was found: 53% of the respondents were of the opinion that someone with more than 10,000 followers was on a social media channel may be called a social influencer (although 34% in Germany are of the opinion that this only applies to 50,000 followers). According to Connolly (2018), an influencer includes the following criteria:
  • At least 10,000 followers on a social media channel

  • Existing partnership with a company

  • Content of products or services is shared

  • The person concerned is familiar with their area

When asked what exactly constitutes a social influencer, 63% of those questioned said that the number of followers was the decisive criterion, 42% were of the opinion that the information content of the posts was decisive. Only 39% said that the posts on a social influencer were of higher quality. It was also realized that in Europe social influencers are often described as having a paid partnership with a company, whereas in America the popularity of the person is more decisive (Connolly 2018). According to Hugi (2018), however, a regular customer in a bar who is asked by the bar owner whether he can leave a good comment on Instagram or Tripadvisor is already an influencer. According to Hugi, the decisive factor is not the reach of the influencer, but rather his activity as an opinion maker (Hugi 2018).

15.2.2 Differences Between Celebrities and Social Influencers

Although both social influencers and celebrities have a wide reach and are viewed as role models by their fans, they are different. Celebrity fans love to know where they shop, where they go on vacation, and who are their designers. This creates brand awareness, but not direct sales. Fans of social influencers, on the other hand, form slowly and organically. They often follow them on their social media channels because of same interests and mindsets and can thus deal with them identify (Haines 2014). Influencers are "self-made" stars on social media channels, while celebrities have been made stars through traditional channels (Hitz 2018). This difference has some advantages for influencers. One of them is that The influencer's experience in their respective field. While Celebrities are not necessarily experts in the fields for which they advertise (e.g. Justin Bieber, who advertises Calvin Klein), the influencers are usually very familiar with the advertised products (Barker 2017). In the Relationship between influencer and follower is about common interests. The influencers encounter the followers as experts in their field, but at the same time are also perceived as "real people" with wishes, dreams and crises. Followers can identify themselves with the respective influencer (Faltl and Freese 2017). Another point is the difference between analog communication, as it is represented by conventional advertising by celebrities, and interactive communication, as can be observed with influencers. The influencer uses the opportunity to interact and communicate with his followers. Another important difference is “storytelling” and “content creation”. Celebrities are often the face behind a campaign, but they are not the creators of the content. This is different with an influencer: Since they are experts in their fields, they also create the right content and stories behind the products and brands (Barker 2017).

The result is a relationship that (supposedly) does not take place on a commercial level, as is the case, for example, with a campaign by Calvin Klein by Justin Bieber, but is based on common interests (Faltl and Freese 2017). However, both groups often have a large reach. However, this is different. While an advertisement by a celebrity reaches a mass audience, with an influencer this is a niche target group for the respective topic. In some cases the difference can fade a little or there is an overlap. For example, when an athlete who is considered a celebrity advertises a sportswear brand. This could also be viewed as influencer marketing (Barker 2017). The YouTuber “LeFloid” also sees a difference between celebrity and influencer. For him, an influencer is “on an equal footing” with his fans, whereas this is completely different with a celebrity (LeFloid 2014). This leads to the topic already presented at the beginning that Social influencers are given more trust than the "usual" celebrities. (Celie O'Neil-Hart 2016).

The definitions of the term social influencer are not entirely clear. Nevertheless, regardless of the quantifiable category sizes of a possible classification of social influencers in groups, assigned core competencies of social influencers can be presented.

15.2.3 Core competencies and USP of social influencers

The possible core competencies of social influencers in the selected research context follow the following areas: "Target audience young people, personal relationships, credibility, expert knowledge, role model function, reach, storytelling, authenticity, photography and image processing or films and video processing, appearance and interaction":

Target audience young people

According to Andreas Hugi, it is very difficult nowadays to reach young people using conventional advertising such as poster advertising, television advertising, print media advertising, etc. Influencers, however, act on social media platforms and thus represent great potential for companies and their marketing efforts (Hugi 2018).

Personal relationships

Subscribers and followers of influencers often identify with their idols on social media channels. YouTubers such as Bianca Heinicke from the YouTube beauty blog "BibisBeautyPalace" are treated like a star by their subscribers and are considered an absolute idol. The interaction between community and influencer creates personal relationships, so-called parasocial relationships (Visscher 1998).

credibility

According to statistics from the statistics portal Statista, 57% of those surveyed in Germany in 2016 said influencer marketing was credible. In comparison, “classic” advertising does worse at 47% (Statista.de 2016).

Expert knowledge

According to the study by Olapic (2018), 45% of the Americans surveyed state that the posts by influencers have more information content than other posts. Influencers would deal with the niche they are in on a daily basis. This makes them experts in this field (Marco Nirschl 2018).

Role model function

Kiener (2018) justifies the role model function of influencers with the fact that young people often lack their own experience and sense of achievement. Influencers thus serve as behavioral models that can be recommended and given a certain level of security (Kiener 2018).

Range

The range can vary widely and ranges from a few thousand (but very target group-specific) subscribers to several million subscribers. With this reach, the influencers almost exclusively reach subscribers in the relevant niche market (Marco Nirschl 2018).

Storytelling

In storytelling, the human brain wants to relate what it has heard to its own experience. The islet cortex of the human brain is activated, which helps people to make the story they have heard more vivid by means of what they have experienced themselves (Widrich 2012). The influencer's storytelling forms the connection between the brand or product and the consumer, which is an advantage for the company (Casellas 2017).

authenticity

Authenticity means “authenticity” and “perceived as original”, and is therefore a basic requirement for the credibility of an influencer. While Hollywood stars are perceived by the majority of people as untouchable and aloof, social influencers act at eye level and are, for example, perceived as “the friendly girl next door” (Kamal 2018). The authenticity is achieved through awareness, honesty, consistent action and sincerity (May 2013).

Photography and image processing or filming and video processing

Influencers rarely only take photos or film with their smartphones, but use digital, single-lens reflex or compact cameras to do so. Desktop image processing software such as Adobe Lightroom and / or Adobe Photoshop or apps such as Snapseed, Square App, etc. are used for image processing (Perry 2017).

Appearance

While some influencers now act as a beauty image, other influencers gain recognition value in other ways. A good appearance is very important for an influencer. So he needs a certain recognition value in order to be able to build his own branding (Affiliate Deals 2016).

interaction

The interaction serves the influencer to build up a large amount of target group knowledge. It is used to assess which content and topics are currently exciting for the community and which are not. Florian Mundt, alias LeFloid, explains in an interview that it is precisely this interaction that makes YouTube so interesting compared to television. From the fan side, a so-called is created Parasocial relationship, a perceived friendship with the influencer (Koschig 2016).

15.2.4 Visual and auditory aspects of communication

In order to be able to build relationships with their target group or their target groups, the social influencers need to communicate via their respective social media channels. Videos include a variety of visual and auditory aspects such as:

Mimic gestures

Facial expressions are visible movements of the face, which are used as support for communication. The basic functions of facial expressions are mainly the conveyance of emotions, the recipient's feedback for a message to the sender, an opinion on other events and people and the reaction to verbal statements (Glück 2010). According to Metzler Lexikon Sprache (2010, p. 240), the term gesture is designated as follows: “Repertoire and system of body movements and postures used for communication, v. a. Hand and arm movements ”. The gesture thus represents a set of non-verbal signals that are communicatively relevant as an expression of body movements (Glück 2010).

Speech speed & speech volume

The speaking speed and the speaking volume are part of paraverbal communication and are important aspects for successful communication. At the same time, the speed of speech is the interface between the articulation organ, neurolinguistics, neurophonetics and language itself. Depending on how quickly a person speaks, this influences the message that is transmitted (Pfitzinger, Phonetic Analysis of Speech Speed). The speaking volume also influences the message that is transmitted.For example, a volume variation can have an activating effect (Linnenbürger et al. 2018). The psychologist Howard Giles proved that people who speak quickly or who speak loudly are perceived as competent, personable, good-looking and interesting (Giles 1994).

Communicative modes of action

The communicative mode of action describes the effect a person tends to have on the other person when speaking. The activating effect is achieved through the use of activating words (terms that implement implementation and action) as well as the use of prosodic elements such as voice variation, volume variation, targeted pauses and a diverse speaking rhythm. There is an activating and dynamic effect on the listener. The appreciative effect is generated by a positive attitude towards others. The speaker has a social effect and the audience feels comfortable and in good hands. A authoritarian effect can be generated in that personal views and points of view are brought to the fore and clearly disclosed. Thus, a dominant attitude is adopted and authority radiates. A balanced effect however, is achieved through a calm approach. The result is a relaxed and serene atmosphere, which can bring heated discussions to a factual level. In the distant effect Premature emotional involvement is avoided and independence from what is happening and from interlocutors is emphasized. To a informative effect to achieve, emotions are dispensed with, arguments and factual information are in the foreground. Own views are conveyed in a thoughtful and objective manner. In the goal-oriented effect the conversation is steered by the protagonist in the desired direction. In this way, a conversation can be started at another point and then steered in the desired direction. To a emotionally open effect To achieve this, one's own views and feelings are expressed emotionally rather than rationally. This leads to an emotionally open and inspiring effect. In the responsible effect communication is characterized by a personal perception of one's own statements. The supportive effect requires a direct interlocutor. Their views want to be understood and are not influenced. He feels personally recognized and supported. The confident effect is characterized by the fact that positive elements related to a specific goal are brought to the fore. Optimistic elements are used to create the basic belief that a challenge can be overcome. To a self-revealing effect To achieve this, many personal characteristics are revealed; For example, personal experiences, backgrounds and private events play an important role (Linnenbürger et al. 2018).

Greetings / farewell formulas

Greetings and farewells can express real appreciation for the recipient (careerloft 2016). Influencers, especially YouTubers, often greet their subscribers with a greeting and farewell formula such as "Hello everyone" and "That's it for me, we'll see you again tomorrow".

15.2.5 Research questions and hypotheses

On the basis of the theoretical background of the social influencers described as well as the various aspects of visual communication, three questions arise in the context of the study:
  • Q1: Which styles lead to social influencers being seen by their followers as role models and opinion makers?

  • Q2: How do these styles lead to the fact that the social influencers are seen by their followers as role models and opinion makers?

  • Q3: How does a parasocial relationship develop between social influencers on YouTube and viewers without real encounter?

Although the present study is a qualitative study, hypotheses were formulated for the empirical study and thus the research context. The three hypotheses created are as follows:
  • H1: The influencer's dialogues are emotional, active, provocative, activating, self-revealing and sometimes informative. The emotional, active, provocative form of expression should create a unique and eye-catching appearance. The self-revealing effect is intended to support a relationship with the subscribers. It should increase the authenticity of the influencer, especially when it functions as storytelling. The informative effect should make the influencer look like an expert and the activating effect should promote the interaction between viewers and YouTubers.

  • H2: The influencers speak quickly and loudly. This should leave a competent, personable and clever impression. Targeted gestures are used to emphasize what has been said. This is to provide strong credibility and strengthen the appearance.

  • H3: Happy emotions are in the foreground. This should guarantee an expressive appearance and thus increase authenticity.

15.3 empiricism

The empirical part of this thesis deals with the implementation of a visual and auditory analysis of YouTube videos. On the one hand, the analysis consists of a visual part: The focus is on the visual analysis criteria of facial expressions and gestures. In addition, the analysis consists of an auditory part. The focus is on the analysis criteria of speech speed, speech volume, communicative mode of action and greetings / farewell formulas. It is important to find out how the dimensions described appear in the videos and what effect they have.

15.3.1 Procedure and process description of the methodology

15.3.1.1 Analysis criteria, objects, reference values ​​and methodology

The factors examined in this empirical (exploratory) study were media and communication sciences, for which surveys, content analyzes and observations are the most common survey methods (Möhring and Schlütz 2010). Interviews would also be a way of obtaining the required data. However, it would be difficult to arrange an interview with the relevant influencers. It would also be unclear whether the influencers in question would reveal their styles or even success factors in an interview. As a result, observation is classified as the best variant, with an analysis of the YouTube videos making the most sense.

15.3.1.2 Video analysis

The analysis of the YouTube videos was divided into a visual and an auditory research. The results of the visual and auditory examination of the YouTube videos should then enable conclusions to be drawn about the styles. The analysis criteria according to Tab. 15.1 were defined as reference values ​​for the analysis. Table 15.1 shows the criteria for the visual and auditory analysis defined for the empirical study.
Tab.15.1

Criteria for visual and auditory analysis

15.3.1.3 Analysis objects

Randomly selected videos of the 5 most successful German YouTubers according to Socialblade.com were defined as analysis objects. It is about:
  • BibisBeautyPalace

  • Julien Bam

  • Dagi Bee

  • ApeCrime or ApeCrimeTV

  • Simon Desue

Due to the theory, which is largely based on German sources, German analysis objects were also chosen for the empirical part of the research. For homogenization, only YouTubers were examined who placed themselves aurally and visually in dialogue form as the main motif in the video. All other forms of self-presentation, such as gaming videos, music videos, etc., were excluded in order to enable a uniform analysis procedure.

15.3.1.4 Analysis procedure

For the selection of the YouTube videos of the various YouTubers, all YouTube videos of the YouTubers that existed online at the time of the investigation were listed and numbered in an Excel list. Then 10 different random numbers were generated by means of a random generator (computer online). The sample size was limited to 10 videos per YouTuber due to the fact that a qualitative analysis was available and due to limited resources. The videos selected at random were then downloaded using an MP4 converter and transferred to the MAXQDA analysis software (online video converter). MAXQDA is software for qualitative data analysis such as transcribing and coding audio and video files. With the help of MAXQDA, the videos were coded according to the defined analysis criteria. The analysis criteria were evaluated and interpreted using the code tables and visual tools as well as the analysis of the individual coded film excerpts. The number of codings obtained per video was divided by the length of the video in order to obtain comparable values ​​per minute and to exclude any distortion of the results. So that patterns, similarities and differences can be identified, so-called codelines and other visual tools from MAXQDA were extracted and analyzed. For the analysis of the speaking speed, the spoken words in each video were counted in the first minute of the video (interruptions are not included).

15.3.1.5 Aim of the analysis

The visual and auditory analysis should serve to determine regularities and patterns in visual and auditory dimensions of the 5 most successful YouTubers in Germany. From the analyzed regularities and patterns, together with the theoretical knowledge gathered from the first part of the work, styles are derived and conclusions are drawn.

15.3.2 Evaluation of the analyzed YouTube videos

The evaluation refers to the 18 analyzed videos, which are listed according to the bibliography.

Stress gesture

The gesture used most often in the analyzed videos is clearly the emphasis gesture with a total of 769 times. This is often used by all YouTubers to make long spoken monologue passages more active and exciting for the viewer.

Pointing gesture

The pointing gesture is the second most used gesture by YouTubers. It is clearly visible a total of 231 times in the 18 different videos analyzed. The YouTubers use the pointing gesture not only to point to products or things, but also to address the audience. While the YouTuber points at the viewer with his index finger, the viewer feels addressed and asked to take action. Another function of the pointing gesture used by YouTubers is the visualization of deictic expressions such as “there”, “yesterday”, “before”, “tomorrow”, “soon” etc.

Touch gestures

The touch gesture is used a total of 61 times. It is often based on an emotional intention. For example, while Dagi Bee asks viewers to give the video a thumbs up, which is a demonstrative gesture (more on that later), she puts her arm around her little sister to symbolize sympathy and affection. It therefore automatically appears more personable and human with the viewer.

Demonstrative gesture

The demonstrative gesture can be found 68 times in the analyzed videos and has various functions: Most often, the demonstrative gesture is used to create an activating posture. This usually takes place when the viewer is asked to mark the video that has been switched on with "I like". The YouTuber gesticulates a thumb up with his or her hand. Another use of the demonstrative gesture is the visualization of product functions or handling. For example, Bianca Heinicke uses a demonstrative gesture to visualize and demonstrate a presented make-up article and its handling. YouTubers use demonstrative gestures for acting purposes, analogous to touch gestures.

Facial expression "joy"

When it comes to facial expressions, it is noticeable that the emotion joy is by far the most visible at 440 times. Joy is conveyed through happy facial expressions, smiles or laughter and triggers similar feelings in the viewer. While watching the feeling arises that the protagonist is happy, the viewer also gets the feeling that the YouTuber is enjoying what he is doing. One example of this is Bianka Heinicke's facial expressions with her natural-looking smile.

Similar to gestures, the YouTubers use facial expressions in an acting manner. An example of this are various scenes in Julien Bam's video "The ULTIMATE STORY 2". It is noticeable that when acting as an expression of joy, facial expressions are often exaggerated.

Facial expression "surprise"

At 43 times, the surprise is the second most common facial expression. She comes to the fore primarily as an actor and is usually presented in an exaggerated manner. A surprise facial expression is not only to be understood as an actor, it also occurs naturally. For example with Bianca Heinicke when a scream in the background frightens her. Immediately afterwards, this moment of surprise and shock is shown again in slow motion. The YouTuber draws herself into the funny, which makes her appear sympathetic in the eye of the beholder.

Facial expressions "anger", "fear" and "sadness"

While facial expressions related to the emotion of joy often appear naturally in the videos, this is less the case with anger, fear and sadness. It can only be found a few times in the videos. In doing so, they come to the fore almost exclusively in theatrical manner. Here, too, analogous to the theatrical manner of joy, the facial expressions are exaggerated and ensure a more amused and amused reaction.

Facial expressions "contempt" and "disgust"

Contemptuous or disgusting facial expressions can only very rarely be seen in the videos. They either appear in an acting manner or occur unintentionally.

Communicative modes of action

In the 18 different videos analyzed, a communicative mode of action was coded a total of 306 times. However, no supportive mode of action, no emotionally open mode of action, no distant mode of action and no balanced mode of action were perceived. This is justified by the fact that the supporting effect requires a dialogue and not a monologue. The YouTube videos are often structured as a monologue to the viewer, so they do not allow any supporting effect. It was found that various emotions, mainly joy, were present almost throughout the videos. The distant effect excludes premature emotional involvement, it is assumed that this would represent a kind of contradiction and therefore does not appear in the videos. It is also assumed that the balanced effect, which requires a calm approach, would represent a contradiction to the quickly measured speaking speed and the sometimes loud speaking volume and therefore does not occur. The emotionally open mode of action will be discussed in more detail later.

Self-revealing effect

With 117 codings, more than a third of the modes of action are self-revealing. The videos with the strongest self-revealing effect are those in which the influencers show private sides of themselves. In two of these videos, the YouTubers present personal (childhood) photos of themselves and tell something about them, which results in a self-revealing effect. Another form of self-revealing sequences that occur is the question-and-answer session. A question asked by a subscriber is displayed and answered below the video. This creates an appreciative and then self-revealing effect. The self-revealing effects have the consequence that the viewer of the video develops a parasocial relationship. By sharing personal and past experiences, be it old childhood photos or stories about their personal life, the protagonist feels like building a friendship with this person, as sharing such private information usually only happens among friends.

Activating effect

The activating effect plays a very important role in the videos. It occurs a total of 89 times and almost always has a call-to-action function. This means that the viewer is asked to mark the video with "I like", to subscribe to the channel, etc. An example of this can be found in the video from ApeCrimeTV (see quote below).

(V12, 8: 34–8: 42) "You can of course unlock the whole thing, a new magic number: 44,444 likes, then we order the whole thing and do part 2, I would say."

What has been said often occurs in connection with image or text overlay and the pointing gesture, which additionally intensifies the activating effect. It is also noticeable that many of the activating effects occur in connection with an invitation to interact. For example in the video by Bianca Heinicke:

(V3, 9: 39–9: 42) "Be sure to write me in the comments ..."

The viewer is asked to write a comment under the video, which in turn increases the interaction rate of the video and thus also of the channel.In addition, an appreciative effect is achieved, as the viewer gets the feeling that your own opinion and a comment are desirable and valuable.

Appreciative effect

Just like the activating effect, the appreciative effect among the YouTubers also plays an important role. It can be seen a total of 67 times in the analyzed videos. It has different manifestations: One of them is the fact that the viewer is addressed by the YouTuber. Bianca Heinicke and Dagi Bee provide a good example of this in their videos. For example, Bianca Heinicke almost always does this when she greets her audience in the following way:

(V1, 0: 00–0: 02) "Halli-hello my loved ones and welcome to my new video ..."

Appreciation by the audience arises on the one hand through the greeting itself and on the other hand through the words "my loved ones" and "welcome". Another form of appreciative effect is the fading in of written comments. This occurs, for example, in the video “Heyju - Longboard Tour - Day 5” by Julien Bam or “THAT is how I met my friend Dagi Bee before. A comment is shown in the video and then answered directly by the YouTuber. As a viewer, you get an appreciative feeling because you feel noticed, taken seriously and important. Another form of appreciation is shown in an example by Simon Desue in the video “The CHILLI Prank! - Revenge to Shirin David ", where he says the following:

(V13, 3: 58–4: 02) "We will definitely like the coolest ones, we will look at most of you, definitely ..."

He promises to view and like the shared posts on Instagram and Twitter under the hashtag “FANTA86”. This creates an activating effect on the one hand and an appreciative effect on the viewer on the other.

Authoritarian effect

In the videos watched, an authoritarian mode of action can only be seen 6 times. This seems to play a secondary role in these video circles.

Informative effect

The informative effect occurs a total of 13 times. All informative modes of action with the exception of 2 times appear in the video "10 WHATS APP FACTS!" From ApeCrime. As the name of the video suggests, the content of this video consists in presenting 10 facts / information about the “WhatsApp” app.

Confident effect

Similar to the informative effect, the confident effect also occurs exclusively in a single video. This arises in connection with a self-revealing effect, when Dagi Bee talks about her new online shop in her video “That's how I got to know my boyfriend”, as can be seen in the following example.

(V7, 8: 07–8: 09) "It will definitely be mega cool ..."

Responsible and goal-oriented effect

These two modes of action only occur 3 times in total. It is believed that the reason for the rare occurrence is the loose and not serious content of the videos. The goal-oriented effect, however, requires a dialogue. Since the videos are mostly held in monologue form, this is probably the reason that this mode of action does not occur often.

Greetings

With the exception of 3 videos, there is a greeting of the viewers everywhere, although it is very different among the various YouTubers. It is noticeable that some YouTubers always greet their viewers in the same way. For example, Bianca Heinicke does this in all three videos in the following way:

(V1, 0: 00–0: 02) "Halli-hello my loved ones and welcome to my new video ..."

The greeting always seems to be tailored to the target group. This is how Julien Bam's greeting looks looser and more trendy:

(V5, 0: 02–0: 04) “Jo guys! What's going on? Welcome …"

In connection with the greeting, it is generally noticeable that a lot of gestures are used and that people tend to speak faster and louder. This is no different with the adoption. This is similar to the greeting in every but one video. Everyone has their own way of ending the video. Here, too, the difference between male and female YouTubers can be seen again. While Dagi Bee makes a long and appreciative goodbye, with Simon Desue it is rather short and looks trendier. In general, when saying goodbye, it is noticeable that in 14 of 18 videos during or immediately after the goodbye, reference is made to other videos, another channel, a shop, etc. by means of image and text overlays or mentions, which results in an activating effect.

Speaking volume

Altogether, in the videos analyzed, the volume deviates upwards 304 times and the volume deviates downwards twice from the normal speaking volume. There are 58 shouted times, 148 times spoken loudly, 154 spoken at an increased volume and spoken twice in a low and incomprehensible manner.

Speaking speed

When it comes to speaking speed, it is noticeable that in almost all videos in dialogue scenes over 180 words per minute are spoken. Some YouTubers even speak over 200 words per minute. If the value of Rhetores is taken as the reference value, which defines more than 120 words per minute as speaking quickly, all YouTubers speak above average quickly (Rhetores - Academy of Speakers).

15.3.3 Apparent Patterns

Basically, it can be said that roughly the same mechanisms of action always come to light in the videos analyzed. There is often a self-revealing, appreciative and activating effect, but almost nowhere is a confident, supportive, responsible, emotionally open, goal-oriented, distant, balanced or authoritarian effect. Such a pattern can also be seen in facial expressions. While joy can be found in every video and surprise in the majority of videos, anger, disgust, fear, sadness and contempt are very rare. In terms of gestures, emphasis gestures are by far the most common, but demonstrative, pointing, and touch gestures appear almost everywhere. It can also be seen that the stress gesture is the most frequently occurring analysis criterion in most videos. Another pattern can be seen in that the videos often have a stronger communicative effect. For example, in the video "My PEINLICHSTEN TEENIE - PHOTOS" the self-revealing effect, in the video "How I met my friend" the appreciative effect and in the video "10 WHATS APP FACTS!" The informative effect. If you look at the codelines, further patterns become recognizable: For example, that the activating effect occurs more and more at the end of the videos, as an example by Bianca Heinicke visualizes in Fig. 15.2.
It can also be seen that the facial expression "joy" occurs in almost everyone throughout the entire video, which is clearly recognizable in the video by Dagi Bee (see Fig. 15.3).

The same applies to the stress gestures, but there is a slight tendency at the beginning and end of the videos. A tendency towards the beginning and end of the videos can also be seen in the speaking volume; so the increased volume or loud speaking also occurs increasingly with the activating effect. Another observation was that numbers and the request to “like” a video often occur in connection with demonstrative gestures.

15.3.4 Similarities

With the help of MAXQDA, various similarities were found in the analyzed videos. These are derived directly from the patterns described above. In almost every video, viewers and subscribers are warmly welcomed at the beginning and bid farewell at the end of the video. It is noticeable that the words "Dear ones" often appear in the greeting. When saying goodbye, you can see the second thing in common: It is noticeable that saying goodbye is often associated with an activating effect. Viewers are asked to watch other videos, other channels or to mark the video with a "Like". The third thing they have in common is that emphasis gestures are used throughout the videos. This is often used intensively throughout the entire video. The fourth thing they have in common is the facial expression "joy". This is very strongly represented in almost every video: be it through acting or through natural smiling or laughing in vlog-like sequences. It is noticeable that these facial expressions (with the exception of the acting facial expressions) always appear very natural and authentic. Another common pattern is the tendency towards increased volume or speaking loudly at the beginning and especially at the end of the videos. As already indicated, the videos have the activating effect in common at the end of the videos. This often occurs in the form of greetings, but also in the form of text and images. Another common feature of the communicative mode of action is that the YouTubers focus on one mode of action. For example the informative effect in the video “10 WHATS APP FACTS!”, The self-revealing effect in the videos with the embarrassing photos and the appreciative effect in the videos with the answered questions from the audience. Another thing they have in common is the rapid pace of speech. Without exception, all of the analyzed videos speak much faster than 120 words per minute, which corresponds to a very fast speaking speed due to predefined reference values. If you look at the overall picture, you can see that the same analysis criteria are always to be found. The YouTubers use the self-revealing, the appreciative and the activating effect again and again. In order to achieve these effects, the same means are often used: For example, embarrassing photos or childhood photos to achieve a self-revealing effect, the insertion and answering of viewer comments to achieve an appreciative effect and the possibility of "liking" more videos with a certain number unlock to achieve the activating effect. It is also noticeable that, for example, the request to “like” the video is often visualized with a gestured thumb up and numbers are often visualized with the number of fingers attached, which corresponds to a demonstrative gesture.

The increased speaking volume and loud speaking also represent mechanisms of action that occur again and again in the middle parts of the videos and can be seen as a common feature. All other analysis criteria were severely neglected in the analyzed videos, which is also one of the last things in common.

15.3.5 Differences

Differences were found in the greeting and farewell, especially in the way in which these are implemented, as some YouTubers do this by addressing them personally and others using fade-ins. When it comes to gestures, too, the main differences are how the gestures look and not whether they are made. For example, the stress gestures look a little different for each person. Differences in the constancy of the various YouTubers were also found. With some YouTubers, such as Bianca Heinicke, a strong consistency can be seen in the fact that the audience is always greeted and said goodbye personally. In contrast, this is done very differently at ApeCrime. One of the biggest differences is that the content of the videos is very different, but this is not part of the defined analysis criteria. For example, the videos at ApeCrime are more theatrical, whereas those at BibisBeautyPalace and Dagi Bee are more vlog-like.

15.4 Conclusion, reflection and outlook

The aim of the elaboration was to use research and visual and auditory analysis of YouTube videos of the most successful German social influencers to find out which factors lead to social influencer communities of several thousand to millions of people being viewed as role models and opinion makers and a relationship is created in the process. The videos were examined using visual and auditory analysis criteria according to their patterns, similarities and differences. Then the effect patterns were evaluated and the identifiable similarities and differences recorded.

It was found that the communicative modes of action, the greeting and farewell formula, the facial expressions, the gestures as well as the speaking volume and the speaking speed represent styles of social influencers on YouTube with which they build a parasocial relationship with viewers. It turned out that the self-revealing, the appreciative and the activating effect are most important in the communicative modes of action. The self-revealing effect is an important component for the creation of a parasocial relationship between the viewer and the YouTuber, as it allows you to get to know him better, as happens, for example, by showing childhood photos. A so-called “illusion of face-to-face relationship” arises. The viewer feels addressed directly by the YouTuber, although he actually speaks to a broad mass (Diehl 2018).

This also supports the first hypothesis. The greeting and farewell formulas reinforce this effect. The frequently occurring appreciative effect also has an important influence on this. It is achieved, for example, by displaying comments from viewers in the videos, mentioning them by name, and then answering their questions. An interaction between YouTuber and viewer arises, but this is very asymmetrical, since the YouTuber is usually not able to observe and answer all reactions and comments. But that does not reduce the effect on the audience (Diehl 2018). The activating effect gives the viewer the feeling of being influential. This effect is often achieved by asking for a “like” of the video, subscribing to the channel or partner channel, or by making a comment. With a certain number of "likes", viewers can activate further videos and thus have an influence on the actions of the YouTubers. This again supports the first hypothesis.

It was also found that the facial expression "joy" is a common style. Through the facial expression "joy", that is, laughing or happy facial expression, a feeling of joy arises in the viewer too, because: "If we observe other people laughing, the regions in the brain that are active when we laugh ourselves are activated. That prepares us to laugh along ”(Papousek 2016). So there are feelings of happiness when watching the influencers' YouTube videos. This indirectly supports the third hypothesis. The gestures give the spoken liveliness and persuasiveness and make the YouTuber appear more competent and credible. According to a study by the Institute for Demoscopy, body language can significantly influence spoken text and thus, for example, make less convincing content appear convincing (Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach 2006).

During the analysis, it was found that all influencers examined have a fast speaking pace according to Rhetores (Rhetores - Academy of Speakers). The fast pace of speech contributes to the fact that YouTubers are perceived as more competent, personable and interesting (Giles 1994). It leaves a positive judgmental impression on the listener (Sendlmeier 2012). So the second hypothesis is supported at this point. It also became apparent that speaking aloud is a common style. Like speaking quickly, speaking loudly also has a positive effect on the audience, as psychologist Howard Giles proved that people who speak quickly and loudly are perceived as more competent, personable, smarter, better-looking, and more interesting (Giles 1994) what is essential for the first and last impression at the beginning and end of a video. Which finally supports the second hypothesis.

In theory it became clear that the interaction with the community is an important aspect for the development of a parasocial relationship. This was shown in the empirical part using examples. By taking up and answering the audience comments, an appreciative and, on the other hand, a self-revealing effect was achieved. Both contribute to the creation of such a relationship. The theory also says that the influencer's storytelling creates the connection between the brand or product and the consumer. Storytelling therefore creates a connection that would not be feasible through the company alone. If you compare this statement with the analyzed dimensions, you can definitely say that the self-revealing effect can be rated as storytelling. This mode of action was coded a total of 117 times, so it is definitely important in the 18 videos analyzed. In connection with storytelling and identification with the influencer, authenticity is also heavily weighted in theory.Here, too, the self-revealing mode of action can be viewed as an example. The fact that the influencers reveal a lot about themselves in the videos through childhood photos, personal experiences and stories creates a credibility and authenticity for the viewers.

For further research work, other analysis dimensions could be integrated into the research, such as camera perspective, light, appearance of the protagonist and content of the videos and catching up with the analysis of the emotional open effect. It would also be interesting to research in more detail why the rarely occurring analysis criteria are not or only rarely used by the influencers. It would also be exciting to investigate which of the analyzed styles are intentionally used and which are not. At a later point in time, a comparison between successful and less successful influencers could be interesting.

Since the concept of "social influencer" consists of two parties and only those of the social influencers themselves were examined in this work, it would be interesting to examine the side of fans, subscribers and viewers better. For example, the question arises whether the target group of influencers see them as role models because they have character traits that they suppress in themselves or would like to have. This means that there will be a wide range of research opportunities in this area in the future. This is precisely because it is assumed that the topic of social influencers will also be topical in the future, as more and more companies are becoming aware of it and want to make use of this marketing channel.

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