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Employing a dramaturgical lens to the interpretation of brand online social networking: Evidence of augmented self

Heejin Lim (Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA)
David W. Schumann (Marketing and Supply Chain Management, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Article publication date: 10 June 2019




Brand online social networking (BOSN) is a novel marketing phenomenon in which companies initiate and cultivate relationships with their customers through online social networking (OSN) sites. Because of its openness to the public, BOSN is distinct from a traditional brand community. This study aims to explore patterns and schemes of individuals’ BOSN based on the sociological schemas noted in Goffman’s dramaturgical approach.


This study adopts in-depth personal interviews to uncover the full meaning of BOSN. A total of 21 Facebook brand page participants were interviewed, and the interviews were recorded digitally and transcribed verbatim, providing data for analysis. Triangulation was accomplished through examination of informants’ Facebook webpages that presented their own postings. The transcribed data were interpreted using a hermeneutic approach.


The data analysis based on the dramaturgical lens reveals four key themes: diversity in consumers’ intentionality toward BOSN social connections, their feeling of contamination of the digital self and a desire for autonomy, consumers’ roles as the actors and audiences on a brand’s BOSN stage and backstage experience and consumers’ feeling of intimacy. Findings highlight how individuals’ perceptions of audiences and the social media platform as a stage influence their performance in BOSN conjointly. These findings reveal that individuals participate in BOSN as a means of augmenting their identity.


Findings from this study advance the extant literature addressing online brand communities by exploring a novel form of brand assemblages within the context of social media. Employing a dramaturgical approach, this study identifies the distinct nature of the consumer–brand relationship in the virtual agora of OSN, which is hyperindividualistic in nature and is used to augment a sense of self.



Lim, H. and Schumann, D.W. (2019), "Employing a dramaturgical lens to the interpretation of brand online social networking: Evidence of augmented self", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 278-300.



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