Relationships from afar: The Changing Dynamics of a Plant Community on Instagram and How Video Impacts Communication

Projekttitel Relationships from afar: The Changing Dynamics of a Plant Community on Instagram and How Video Impacts Communication
Projekttype Anvendt forskning og udvikling
Frascati Ja
Tema Business | Kommunikation
Teaser The launch of Instagram TV on Instagram - an autoethnographic walk into an online community to explore how video facilitates new types of online relationships
Status Afsluttet
- Akademi IBA Erhvervsakademi Kolding
- Kontaktperson Kelli Marie Terkelsen
Nat./Int. Nationalt
Projektperiode 01. august 2019 - 30. april 2021
- Projektresumé

The project investigates the changes in communication practices due to the launch of Instagram TV – IGTV and other video posting.  Communication on Instagram was previously only done through text and image posts, but the newly added video medium to the platform changes the way members of communities can communicate with each other.  The main conclusion identified in this study is that IGTV allows newcomers to the community to integrate faster than before through the creation of stronger and faster built bonds via video.  Community members often develop attachments with ‘personas’ in these online communities, due to para-social and vicarious interactions meaning relationships are developed through one-way communication (Horton and Wohl 1956). Although it is a relationship from afar, it creates stronger bonds to the community and better understanding of the specific activity, i.e., plant growing in this context.

- Baggrund og formål

According to Dansk Gartneri (the association for the Danish horticultural industry), the potted plant industry is important to Denmark with approximately 2.9 billion DKK in exports per year.  The younger generation of plant owners (millennials) and their changes in consumer behavior is a relatively unfamiliar and often forgotten segment to the industry. For this global group of potential consumers, the customer journey now includes many online touchpoints such as blogs, social media, review sights, interest communities, online friends and so forth. This digitization brings with it new trends, ideas, new ways to purchase and an entirely new way of being influenced.  Not wanting to spend a lot of time decoding text, Millennials often turn to symbols, images, and video (Yarrow 2014).  Therefore, video is interesting for this project, and how it would change the overall communication in an image driven platform.

Pew Research has solidified that Millennials are those that are born between 1981 and 1996 meaning that they would be in the age range of approximately 25-40, many owning their own homes, having families, and potentially interested in décor and/or health of their environment.  Since this is a group of growing importance in this industry, and there is a need to understand media and how it affects the new consumer, this research focuses specifically on video and the effects it has on the community and their communication.

- Aktiviteter og handling

Planning, pre-study, netnographic research, and analysis, autoethnographic parallels were drawn and conclusions developed.  Once conclusions were developed, interviews were conducted to corroborate the findings.

- Projektets Metode

Observations were carried out from the online communities daily for a delimited period through Netnography.  Data was analyzed looking for differences in behavior between still photography and video.  Looking at how each media is used and how it then changes communication.  Once the differences were found, comparisons were drawn up between online communities with physical communities through an autoethnographic analysis.  Patterns started to emerge, and additional theories came forward such as para-social interaction and para-social relationship (Horton and Wohl 1956).  Using the online and offline parallels, small scale theories began to develop.  Through instant messaging, the theories were tested on influencers in the community, to see if they had similar experiences and the ideas rang true with others in the community.

Kozinets, R.V. (2015) Netnography: Redefined. 2nd edition. Los Angeles: Sage


Theoretical setting:
Instagram is constantly changing in the tools and the media that can be used on this platform, which in turn changes the way one can communicate.  Video changes our communication simply because of the higher level of information that it creates in our communication through nuances of body languages, gestures, tone of voice, the video environment/surrounding and many other aspects that creates a higher level of information (Short, Williams, and Christie 1976).  Media has different levels of effectiveness, video for example is very effective in situations of storytelling or try to explain something that is more complex (Daft and Lengel 1986). Video has the potential then to create a level of relationship through para-social interactions which has an effect on the overall communication, understanding of the information along with social implications (Horton and Wohl 2006).

Daft, R.L. and Lengel, R.H. (1986) ‘Organizational Information Requirements, Media Richness and Structural Design’. Management Science 32 (5), 554–571

Horton, D. and Wohl, R. (1956) ‘Mass Communications and Para-Social Interaction:  Observations on Intimacy at a Distance’. Psychiatry 19, 215–29. Found online at: Particip@tions Vol 3 (1) Article – Donald Horton & R. Richard Wohl (n.d.) available from <> [18 February 2020]

Short, J., Williams, E., and Christie, B. (1976) The Social Psychology of Telecommunications. London ; New York: Wiley

Yarrow, K. (2014) Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy. First edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, A wiley Brand

Empirical setting:
Instagram is a social media platform that allows for sharing of images, video, and text posts to connect and share experiences with others.  It allows for a much more visual communication and for others to interact through commenting, sharing, and liking.  In this social media platform, there are many influencers that generate a large number of followers.  One of these influencers is Urban Jungle Bloggers. This particular influencer (which is actually a group of bloggers under one name) is a core part of the plant community on Instagram.  However, they themselves do not use video as a medium so it became difficult to see the trends of video in Instagram through this one influencer.  Therefore, a larger sample was taken. The sample was made up of followers of Urban Jungle Bloggers and how they as individuals were using video. The observations were compared and contrasted to behavior in a physical setting and patterns were identified through Autoethnographic eyes.


- Projektets Forventede Resultater

The use of video changes the way members of the plant community communicate.  This richness in media helps to build relationships in a community at a much faster level and makes the bond stronger.  Video as a media is also much better at instruction that is more complex, thus, allowing for much more effective learning process.  As a newcomer in the community, video allows them to go through the learning process with greater speed allowing them to become much more competent plant owners.  This faster pace of knowledge acquisition means you have more competent members bringing more value to the community by helping others, bringing in more relevant content and potentially allowing the community to prosper and grow.

The plant community is where the study was done but results could translate to other communities, helping companies to increase their engagement in a brand community or a similar online community.

The project is summarized in a written report.

- Projektets Forventede Effekt
- Studerende
- Medarbejdere IBA Erhvervsakademi Kolding
Line Rhode Ottosen
- Virksomhedsrepræsentanter
- Andre
- Resultatets formidling
- Resultaternes værdi
- Målgruppen Aftagervirksomheder, Videnfelter og uddannelser: fx. Markedsføringsøkonom, PB International handel og markedsføring, PB E-handel
- Vidensprodukter