Blog Post 8- Week Ten: Game Play Testing

After finalising my question cards, this week I wanted to focus on play testing and gathering feedback on my game. With this creation experience, although research with personal trial and error has been a successful method, it is the feedback and game making experiences that have proven to be most beneficial throughout this development. As I was unwell this week and wasn’t able to attend my tutorial, I decided that I will utilise my family members for game play this week to gage new responses. I decided that I was split my time up in the game, using the first half to play and the second to take notes and ask questions throughout and after each round. This play testing was also done with ages ranging from 12- 53 years old as I was looking to see if this game would be enjoyable for a large target market.

Before commencing this gameplay session I felt it was important to let my test members know that I was looking for honest and sometimes even harsh feedback. Although I did benefit from the feedback given from my peers in class, I was eager to see what my family members thought on ‘What’s Trending?’ as I knew they wouldn’t be afraid to hold anything back. Whilst hosting past game testing I did notice certain players were cautious of over sharing their opinions as they didn’t want to start conflict that lead others to negatively critic their own game. Although I’m not a confrontational person, looking back at past weeks I did feel as though people were holding back from being honest which could have potentially affected my overall work. Luckily for me, most of my play testing groups understood the importance of this feedback, being very supportive and constructive.

Feedback Gathered;

Pros:

  • Enjoyable
  • Different from other games
  • Relatable
  • Easy to understand
  • Good Presentation
  • Diverse (players will know at least one answer)
  • Sense of nostalgia
  • Educational

Cons:

  • Difficult to explain if you don’t know the answer yourself
  • Limited skips make it hard to advance
  • DIfficult for young individuals to play when playing rounds in years below 2005
  • Older ages have the upper hand as they were alive longer during past years
  • Game can spark an argument or two
  • Younger players needed one or two practice rounds to understand how to play

After finalising this play testing and reviewing my results I was very happy to see their were fairly the same amount of pros as their were cons. Looking at my cons specifically I look to utilise this research for my marketing and branding in my final project, comparing results and discussing why these choices were made. As we are drawing to the end of this project I am glad that I was able to utilise diverse individuals for my testing as I believe I gaged a great amount of responses that have helped to improve both my game and overall project.

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Final Game Board Design
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Influencer Marketing: Authenticity

The Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising reported that “83% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers over traditional advertising” (2015).

Looking at these social marketing strategies, audiences are more responsive to products endorsed by ‘everyday’ individuals as they provide a sense of reliability. As shown throughout this blog, influencer marketing has proved to be highly effective across all social sites, through being a visual platform. Consumers see these posts as similar to a friend recommending them a product, rather than a celebrities blatantly being paid to advertise and sell. With celebrities and high profile accounts, consumers may see posts as aspirational, and follow suit as they want to emulate the influencer’s lifestyle.

Being a brand, your authenticity shows through the creative expression between your objectives, influencer vision, and audience connection. When considering influencers to partner with, businesses need to assure that the influencer’s overall personal brand aligns with the their core values. One of the biggests faults I’ve seen brands make when executing a campaign is handling creative control. For example, although scripting what influencers should say will portray the direct message of the product, brands who look to trust these influencers to convey their own messages benefit more from this marketing strategy as these individuals know how to create content that best resonates with their audience in order to maintain a high engagement and continue to grow their following.

With influencers often considering their social feed as a form of expression, providing creative freedom goes a long way. What sets influencer marketing apart from traditional methods is the authentic factor it provides audiences. Businesses need to ensure influencers align with their brand when choosing who to work with, while influencers need to remain credible when giving their reviews or opinion about a product.

Mara McCune, Vice President of E.L.F Cosmetics is one example that utilizes this practice throughout her own brand, stating;

“We ask them to be truthful – to share their candid thoughts on our products, tell us what else they want to see from Elf and tell us what we could be doing better…We have found that they understand who we are and are able to help tell our story without needing to provide specific guidelines.”

The byproduct of authenticity is, therefore, trust and loyalty. Remaining authentic is the foundation to keeping your audience. James Nord is the co-founder of Fohr Card which is a a service that helps match up brands and influencers. Nord has an optimistic opinion of how much honesty really goes into a partnership stating;

“The amount of influencers we have who come in and turn down $10,000 from us because the product doesn’t make sense for their audience is really encouraging for me. The fact that we have people turn down $30,000 deals because they feel like they couldn’t authentically speak on behalf of that product makes me feel really good.”

Although we would love to believe that all influencers generate authentic collaborations, for brands investing in the correct influencer is vital to ensure the product is promoted correctly.

Example: HiSmile (@hismileteeth)

Oral cosmetics company HiSmile are one of the leading teeth whitening brands throughout the online space, running adverts and sponsored posts across numerous social platforms. Launching in December 2014 with just $20,000 in capital, HiSmile has achieved a turnover exceeding $50 million and has plans to reach $100 million by the end 2018. The brand’s success can be attributed to its targeted social media marketing strategy and focus on influencers, including Kylie Jenner and Conor McGregor.

Discussing these strategies in an article with News.com.au, Brand owners Nik Mirkovic, 22, and Alex Tomic, 24 state they saw individuals like Jenner “as the pinpoint of that (16-24 female) demographic, she was the go-to and it was important for us to align ourselves with her,” (Mirkovic)

Expanding into the male millennial market the pair also saw McGregor as the “most relevant male for our demographic,” stating that they wanted to “ make noise in the male market and make it OK for men to purchase products like ours” (Mirkovic)

Although the this success is impressive, doing research I uncovered the strategies and lengths they go to work with these influencers, which isn’t always authentic to its customers.

Every individual who has promoted HiSmile expresses nothing but positive feedback for both the product and the brand itself. However, influencer Brittney Lee Saunders took to twitter recently voicing her opinion on the brand and showcasing their lack of authenticity with audiences. Saunders is a fairly popular Australian blogger herself with over 1 million Youtube subscribers and 604k Instagram followers. Posting a private message with the brand on twitter, she discusses why she isn’t able to promote their product due to having porcelain veneers (as they cannot be whitened). Going back and forth, the brand attempts to persuade the blogger stating these influencers like Jenner promotes Hismile even though they have veneers too.

However, throughout their article in news.com.au, the entrepreneurs talk on their work with the reality star stating “ they went through six months of negotiations and talks because Jenner was very clear that she has to test and review the product to make sure it aligned with her image.”

While this highlights Saunders authenticity with her audience it negativity showcases the unethical practices of Hismile product, brand and promotion , revealing their lack of care through as they profit off a fabricated product.

References:

 

Post 5:

Throughout the week-

This week I have conducted a total of three interviews as well finalising my editing for two of them. With the end of classes approaching I want to have enough time to practice test my ideas and see if it will work in class. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Aaron in person for a couple of weeks so that something that I am aiming on doing this week. Along with this I also want to get my group and other peers opinions on my work to see where I can improve. Focusing on obtaining feedback this week I am excited to hear what these people think as I haven’t had a chance to update them with my new idea.

Aaron’s email-

Emailing with Aaron before class this week he has told that my concept comes across as vague and directionless. His advice over email was for me to focus on a more specific issue found throughout these interviews. Although getting this response was a bit discouraging I wanted to stay optimistic because I knew Aaron could help to move this into a strong direction. With this in mind, I have sent through the interview with my grandma so he can take a look at what I’ve created before our discussion on Monday. I am both nervous and eager to hear what he has to say.

After our discussion-

After talking with Aaron he has given me a lot of advice on where I can improve this project. He stated that the aspects of six interviews and their storytelling looks to be more journalistic rather than artistic. With this we went over the aim for this project and what I should be focusing on. He suggested that I should stick to a single area rather than multiple as it may start to get confusing for audiences. Sending through the interview with my grandma’s he advised me that he enjoyed the aspects of ranting and frustration as well as the noise of construction and chaos. However, he thought I could do without the background music as he found it cheesy and takes away the effect from her story. He said that I should focus developing this further and play off her emotions of dealing with isolation within your own home. With this advice in mind I looked to my peers to gain some further suggestions on where I can improve. Speaking with many of them they stated that they also found my grandmothers interview the most interesting and that I should take Aaron’s advice to focus more on her situation. Moving forward, I have decided to scrap my other conducted interviews and focus on the thoughts behind my grandma and her story (as this was the most well received). Over the next week my plan is to re- interview my grandma to focus more on her ranting and frustration over the typically storytelling as I don’t want this to feel journalistic. I think following this new path will ensure that the overall video makes more sense, as well as making it more entertaining for audiences.

 

Post 4:

Looking at my projects progress, although I am happy with the direction of my interviews, I am worried with the lack of a visual representation in this work. This past week I have been brainstorming and testing different screen work ideas to incorporate in this peice. Working with Final Cut Pro I first starting to experiment taking photographs of the city scape and high rises in my area. While this does showcase the growth and changes found in these areas, I found this visual has a disconnect from my interviews as these individuals are sharing stories from their past and touching on more nostalgic aspects of the community. With this in mind I wanted to find a way of illustrating what these areas were like before as well as how they are now. Doing some research I found an article on this use of Google Maps Josh Sanburn for Time.com. The article looks into Google’s Street View , and how it has become the closest thing we have to a teleportation device. This site allows visitors to travel anywhere with just a few keystrokes. Discussing the advancement of this Google feature he showcases how this virtual map of the world has always been limited to the present — or at least the most recent images transmitted by its camera-equipped vehicles. Each time those vehicles captured a site, the new images would become searchable and the old ones were taken down and relegated to Google’s servers. However now, this Street View feature is trying to turn its teleportation device into a time machine, with all captured images taken over the last 10 years being be viewable as part of a new feature that allows users to see how places have changed since Google began photographing diverse areas.

Examples:
nyc_freedom_tower_01soumaya_museum_mexico_city

Looking at the examples shown in Sanburn’s article I think this could be an interesting way to highlight my interviews using visual examples. I looked into my interviewees areas and I am eager to see what I can develop. Although I have been struggling throughout this development, this addition to my project has helped revive the passion I’m aiming for this work. I feel this visual piece captures the essence of these people’s stories, emphasising their issues and struggles.

Looking further into this Google feature a concern I do have is the amount of areas and clear captured shots I have to work with. With this in mind I am thinking of interviewing a number of subjects from different areas to show how this affects a wide range of people from different suburbs. With this overpopulation and heavy construction even spreading down to areas in Wollongong, I thought it would be interesting to conduct interviews to learn how these people from these less populated areas deal with this issue. This afternoon Aaron emailed me asking how my development was looking which I very happy about as I haven’t had the chance to sit down with him to get his thoughts on my ideas. I filled him in on what I’m looking at creating and I am hoping he likes the idea as well as give me some advice on how to make it stronger.

References: 

 

Blog Post 7- Week Nine: Game Prototype with Attention to The Abstraction Involved

This week for my game I focused on the development of my question cards. Originally I had the idea of creating my cards to have simple one word answers and to avoid the search topics of how to’s and long responses. Throughout my play testing in this lesson I was afraid that these questions would be difficult to understand causing players to be confused and lose interest . Surprisingly these questions actually seemed to be well received, even being the easier ones for members to play with as they were very relatable. Asking the advice from Mel who was one member of my play testing this week and she did mention to me that she enjoyed those questions as she stated “everyone at one staged has google/searched for one of these responses”. With her help easing my mind a bit I thought it would be a great idea at the conclusion of my play testing to gather some feedback on my game for this week so I could make adjustment and potential improvement. Considering abstraction, this game portrays content that is both relatable and nostalgic. The trends that have occurred over this year span have affected all age groups throughout society. This game tests our memory as it reminds us of these events, whilst also introducing these topics to new audiences in a more entertaining way.

I drew up a pros and cons list and passed it around my play testing group to gage their thoughts after going through some of the game. I felt as though it was important for me to include a cons list and this would be the area of focus for the next upcoming weeks.

Responses;

Pros:

  • Fun
  • Good structure
  • Flow to move forward
  • Categories are relative and interesting
  • Good amount of time to guess the clue
  • Board game was colourful and neatly presented

Cons:

  • Have rules printed
  • Maybe have hints for the more difficult topics.
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Pro’s and Con’s List (Written By Mel)

 

Using the suggestions gathered I am definitely going look play with these suggestions when building my question cards in the upcoming weeks. I feel this will be beneficial for the categories that are more towards the early 2000’s. Next week I aim to have all my question cards gathered so I can spend a full lesson of play testing with more class members.

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What’s Trending Testing and Game Play

In this week I also play tested Mel’s game entitled ‘Draw the Logo’ which asks players to correctly identify different brands through drawing their logo. As my game implements similar aspects of popular and well known culture with the inclusion of brands designs I was happy to provide Mel with feedback. Almost all of the games aspects were clear and enjoyable to play. The feedback provided in these group tests were supportive as they looked at making adjustments that added to the game rather than change it completely. One in particular was made from Noelle as she suggested to categorise the logo cards into three separate categories – easy, medium and hard. The most entertaining part of this game was definitely the challenge rounds were teams were given 30 seconds to draw/ guess 5 logos. As a group we all agreed that these rounds help to excite the game and add an intense factor. I’m definitely excited to keep playing this game over the next coming weeks and see what adjustments Mel makes.

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Draw The Logo Game Design (Image Collected from Mel’s Blog)

To discover more about Draw The Logo and Mel’s design process visit her blog here;

Mel’s Blog

Blog Post 3: Live Tweeting Curation

Throughout this session, live tweeting has given me the opportunity to express my thoughts and opinions on the films/programs watched in class. While some have been successful in sparking discussion and activity, others failed to draw in conversations. The following is a breakdown of my top tweets spanning over 8 weeks.  

Week 1: Ghost in the Shell (Film 1995)

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As this was my first time live tweeting this session, I didn’t have much experience. At first I really struggled coming up with ideas to tweet because I wanted to ensure I was focusing on the film. I was expecting most of our tweets to just focus on being academic, just discussing the cyberculture aspects of each film. However, when coming up tweet ideas I was more focused on the advancement of this technology, rather than ensuring my tweet was scholarly.

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Along with this, I received my first interaction on my post by one of my peers commenting on this tweet. This interaction sparked the idea to focus on having a mix of both academic and humours tweets as these are the ones that I noticed were gaining activity.

Week 2: Westworld (Film 1972)

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Using the activity from last weeks tweets as a guideline, for week 2 I aimed to get at least one of my tweets to spark a comment. Using the idea of ‘stereotypes’ I found this was a great factor to implement for this film due to its cliche nature and the date of its development. As most of my peers grew up in an age with modern technology for films, I was hoping that by commenting on the production value of Westworld , this would look to spark some activity. Surprisingly enough, the only interaction I received from this week was from Chris himself. While he brought up some interesting points, for the next upcoming weeks I wanted to ensure my tweets were engaged to not only Chris but my peers as well.

Week 3: Johnny Mnemonic (Film 1995)

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Playing off the strategy from last week, when composing this tweet I wanted to focus on highlighting the films sense of tackiness contrasting with the films of today. Whilst I’m not to sure Keanu Reeves would enjoy my tweet, I did enjoy seeing some of my peers relate to this post through giving it a like. For this week I did mix in more academically focused content for my other tweets but there was a lack of engagement looking back at them now, mostly only scoring one or two likes. I was finding it difficult to ensure all my tweets get even interaction so for the next upcoming films that was something I definitely looked to work on.

Week 4: The Matrix (Film 1999)

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The Matrix is a popular film so I was not surprised discovering most of my peers have already watched it as they were able to come up with quick ideas for tweets. As this was my first time watching the film I did struggle keeping up with both the film and also creating content. Knowing this I decided to play off my strengths in past weeks and tweet something that looked to focus on relating to my peers rather than the film. With this, I seemed to get a great response as my posts were starting to connect more with others. Gaining more interaction off these tweets I decided that my content will centre more around humour and reliability in the next coming weeks to see if I could stay consistent.

Week 5: Black Mirror (S2E1: Be Right Back 2013)

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As Black Mirror is a fairly popular program, students throughout the class had strong opinions on this show. Knowing this, I found it very difficult to stand out or collect engagement for my posts this week as the feed was flooded more than usual. While many collect reviews from sites like rotten tomato, I decided to test my theory of relatable content for this week. Whilst this tweet did fairly well, I did wish that I sparked further conversations with others for this week as a lot of my peers had contrasting arguments. In future I look to implement this strategy for my own posts to see if I can gain the same interaction as I do for my post with relatable content.

Week 6: Robot & Frank (Film 2012)

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Looking at my tweets from past weeks I noticed that I had a lack of embedded media. As many of my peers were already implementing reviews and articles, I decided to utilize my strategy of  humor and incorporate gifs. Looking memes throughout the timeline, they really looked to stand out amongst other posts, drawing more engagement to my tweets and overall page. Using a popular show like Parks and Recreation was a great choice as it allowed me to utilize the comedic aspects from the show to contrast the serious scenario of Franks arrest in the film. With this being the highest peak of engagement on my page all semester, using visual practices throughout these posts looked to very beneficial.

Week 7: Black Mirror (S3E6: Hated in the Nation 2016)

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Using week six as a guide, for this episode of black Mirror I was hoping to maintain/ improve my tweet engagement. However, with this being my highest liked post for this week I feel I wasn’t successful. Discussed previously, these episodes of Black Mirror spark the most conversations and interactions and many of us have already seen these episodes. Whilst my post looked to still implement my previous strategy that worked in past weeks,  I definitely feel like I missed an opportunity to gage others thoughts and spark a discussion, which although probably wouldn’t have received as many likes, it could have drawn more activity my overall page and gave my posts more substance.

Week 8: Blade Runner (Film 1982)

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This week I wanted to focus on changing up my content, steering away from comedic posts as I have been incorporating this a lot throughout this session. With this I hoped to spark a debate/ conversation with other peers to gage their thoughts on the film. Unfortunately looking at my tweets I struggled to gain any activity for this week, only gaining a total of one or two likes on my posts. Although Chris did engage with some of the tweets from this week, I can see that I have more success with my classmates reacting to my posts incorporating humor and relatable aspects rather than tweets that are more academic. Going forward I think that it is important to incorporate a balance of comedic and academic aspects throughout you posts to gage the best response for audiences.

 

 

Blog Post 2: Branding Breakdown- Influencer Marketing

For this session I have started to develop a research/ information based blog on Influencer Marketing for social users to gage further understandings of the operations behind this field. With this I will post about the methods and strategies brands implement to attract us into buying products.  I look to use my research behind this topic to enlighten readers on how this form of marketing has both positive and negative attributes. Throughout my posts I will explore this notion trust for consumers as well as the distribution of authentic products.

For my upcoming project I am looking to produce around 6 posts. The sources I look to utilise throughout these posts include:

Post 1: What makes an Influencer?

Planning out this post I utilised Kristien Forbes’s journal article on the examination of the beauty industry and the use of social influencers. As Forbes works under the Strategic Communications for Elon University I found her article to be a great source for developing this post. Although there were many sources that discuss what makes up these influencers, her example of linking the beauty industry to these marketing techniques breakdowns these strategies with a successful example. This article also touches on new forms of monetization and payment methods from these posts, diving deeper into why some of these individuals choose to promote unethical products. Freberg, Graham and McGaughey’s 2010 paper on social media influencers and the study of public perceptions of personality is another source that I found very helpful for this post. Stating that “ social influencers represent a type of third-party endorser, shaping audience attitudes” (2010) the article looks to discuss the influences behind popularity on social media and how these individuals achieving fame. Although I am not an influencer myself, these papers are  useful as they act as a way to uncover this lifestyle, helping us understand how these influencers are developed. This information will also be beneficial for my presentation as it acts as a way to describe and introduce the topic to individuals who are not familiar with this marketing strategy.

Post 2: Research on Influencer Marketing? What makes it more effective over others?

For this  post I look to use sources that highlight the effectiveness of influencer marketing for brands. ‘Mediakik.com’ is is the main source I look to use to build this post. The sites research provides statistics and data to help support and strengthen my arguments, reporting that total spending on Instagram influencers in 2017 amounted to $1 billion, and projects that advertisers will spend $1.60 billion on Instagram influencers in 2018 and $2.38 billion in 2019. The use of this research will showcase how these social platforms are growing at a prodigious rate, highlighting the effectiveness of these advertising channels for brands.  Another aspect of this source highlights the user reach and income made off these posts. An example I look to use through ‘Mediawix’ research is celebrities platforms like ‘Beyonce, The Rock or Justin Beiber’ as they are currently the most expensive influencers, charing up to ”$1 million to share a sponsored post with her 106 million followers. Utilizing these statistics and sources throughout my upcoming presentation will look to highlight effectiveness of this marketing as well as the power these individuals have.

Post 3: Testing Analytics on Instagram- Are these suggested products something I would actually purchase? Are they correctly catered towards my likes? 

For the post I plan to use my own Instagram analytics to showcase how these social platforms track and use our online activity to sell product. The Guardians, Danny Bradbury’s article ‘Effective Social Media Analytics’ is a source that I will be looking at whilst conducting this experiment. Touching on our digital footprint, Bradbury’s paper looks at the increase of our online data trail and how these business look at diverse parts of our analytics, depending on their goals. What I found the most interesting in his research is his discussion on tracking customers and prospects on social media to see what keywords they are discussing, therefore folding those keywords and concepts into adverts, updates or tweets to target that audience. I feel this experiment will be great to display in my presentation as well as it will give my classmates and opportunity to understand these analytic processes as well as creating awareness for patterns throughout their own social platforms.

Post 4 & 5: How to spot an authentic post? & Examples and research on unethical brands:

I wanted to create and step by step guide for audiences to discover more about these posts and how they play with notions of trust. Doing some investigation I have found a great example with the teeth whitening company ‘Hismile’ and their unethical practices. With this research I am going to be incorporating the social platforms of influencers to use as examples of these unethical practices. This post is one of the most important throughout my blog as it looks to use research collected from influencers themselves ‘exposing’ these brands. I definitely feel this angle will connect with audiences the most as were the people affected by these posts. Although I plan to go in-depth throughout my blog, I also plan to touch on this throughout my presentation as a way of drawing people to visit the blog so they can read the full story.

Post 6: Short Interviews – Asking students questions on if they have purchased items recommended by an influencer and why?

Throughout my research I wanted to conduct a small portion of interviews with people from different ages to gage if they have been persuaded/ have purchased items promoted by an influencer through these social platforms. Raymond Opdenakker Online Journal ‘Qualitative Social Research (2006)’ is a source that I looking to use to ensure I get the most out of my interviews. With the source highlighting both the advantages and disadvantages of qualitative research,  I am planning on using these techniques as a guide to avoid future problems when conducting my research. Opdenakker’s discussion of different interviews styles has boarded the scale of individuals I originally looked at using for my data, with his techniques surpassing face to face interviews and moving towards a more social and online basis. As this project is based around online content I definitely feel this will be a smart approach to both this post and the overall project.

References:

  1. Bradbury, D. (2013). Effective social media analytics. [online] Available at: The Guardian. (2013). Effective social media analytics. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jun/10/effective-social-media-analytics [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018]. [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018].
  2. HiSmile. (2018). Teeth Whitening Kits | Whitens in 10 Minutes | HiSmile. [online] Available at: https://hismileteeth.com/ [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018].
  3. Forbes, K. (2016). Examining the Beauty Industry’s Use of Social Influencers. Strategic Communications -Elon University. [online] Available at: https://www.elon.edu/u/academics/communications/journal/wp-content/uploads/sites/153/2017/06/08_Kristen_Forbes.pdf [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018]
  4. Freberg, K., Graham, K., McGaughey, K., & Freberg, L. A. (2011). Who are the social media influencers? A study of public perceptions of personality. Public Relations Review, 37(1), 90-92. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2010.11.00
  5. Lee Saunders, B. (2018). Twitter Status. [online] Twitter. Available at: https://twitter.com/britt_saunders/status/983211704564662272 [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018]
  6. Mediakix | Influencer Marketing Agency. (2017). The Biggest Instagram Influencer Statistics Reshaping Social. [online] Available at: http://mediakix.com/2017/09/instagram-influencer-statistics-shaping-social/ [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018]
  7. Opdenakker, R. (2006). Advantages and Disadvantages of Four Interview Techniques in Qualitative Research. [online] Qualitative-research.net. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/175/391%26sa%3DU%26ei%3DFdsJTdDCGYOnrAer0YjVDg%26ved%3D0CP4BEBYwXg%26usg%3DAFQjCNEsC2J0wILvNuH7LEhQaA2znBkKvw [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018].