“Who ‘Likes’ You… and Why: A Typology of Facebook Fans” – Digital/Social Advertising

Who “Likes” You… and Why? A Typology of Facebook Fans: From “Fan”-atics and Self Expressives to Utilitarians and Authentics is a study which attempts to categorize Facebook fans by their characteristics on the website. The study’s authors, Elaine Wallace, Isabel Buil, Leslie de Chernatony, and Michael Hogan, used 438 people on Facebook to examine their online behaviors (Wallace 93). This study has beneficial implications for advertising because its findings can identify and target the Facebook Fans most useful to particular companies. Instead of marketing to everyone, advertising money can be tailored to reach the fans most likely to buy a product from a company and increase its customer base.   Additionally, the Facebook Fan provides a type of free advertising by spreading the “brand message” (93).  When the Fan “likes” a brand, their friends see this choice, potentially provoking an interest in the brand and becoming a new customer.

In order to determine the different types of Facebook users, the researchers used an online survey service named SurveyMonkey. To ensure they were surveying the right participants the researchers asked, “Do you have a Facebook account that you have accessed since March 1st?”, and “Have you selected a brand you ‘Like’ on Facebook in the past year?” (97).  After the screening, the survey was given to 438 university students who were considered “regular Facebook users” (96). These participants were asked to consider a brand they recently Liked.

After the participant selection phase, the researchers then asked questions to measure aspects, such as self-expressiveness, brand loyalty, brand love, and word of mouth for the Liked brand (97). These aspects were measured on a scale from one to five with one being strongly disagree and five being strongly agree (97). Once the data was collected, the researchers used cluster analysis to form “clusters” (98). Based on the analysis of the collected data, the researchers determined four cluster types: Fan-atics, Self-Expressives, Utilitarians, and Authentics (102).

The first group, “Fan”-atics, are characterized by high brand loyalty, love and WOM (word of mouth). They like the brand because of both genuine interest, and also to create an image for themselves (102). This is a group that has a lot of Facebook friends, and is high on the scales of self-monitoring and materialism (102). They also are considered opinion leaders and seekers. We used the brand BluePrint Cleanse, whose Facebook page is below, to represent Fan-atics behavior.  A Fan-atic would “Like” this brand’s Facebook page because he/she is genuinely interested in the cleanse, but also because the product helps to create an image of someone who is health conscious. Because Fan-atics show high brand loyalty, love and WOM, this would be a good consumer to target.  Their interest in the product will make them try it, and if they like it, they will spread the positive message.



Screenshot from BluePrint Cleanse Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BluePrintCleanse


The second group, Self-Expressives, are similar to the Fan-atics in that they also have a high number of Facebook friends, self-monitoring, and WOM (101).  Self-Expressives, however, have slightly less brand loyalty and love, and are lower on the materialism and opinion leader/seeker scale (101).  The primary difference between this latter group and the previous one is that unlike Fan-atics who Like a brand to create an image and out of genuine interest, Self-Expressives usually just “Like” to create an image. We used the same BluePrint Cleanse example to demonstrate that these groups may Like the same brand, but the Self-Expressive only does so because it helps create the health conscious image. People in these groups would be good to target because they have a lot of Facebook friends, and when they try the brand and like it, they will spread brand awareness through word of mouth. However, since Self-Expressives have less brand loyalty, love, and genuine interest, they would not, standing alone as a group, be a prime audience for advertisers to target. The “Likes” made by this group for the brand may not garner any actual purchases because the group is lacking the interest.

The third group that was qualified as a Facebook fan typology is called Utilitarians. This group primarily “likes” brands to gain incentives, but they have no significant consumer connection to the brand (100). Some characteristics of this group include their low levels of brand loyalty, love, and word of mouth. Although they may “like” a brand for it’s incentive, they’re still likely to offer negative comments about the brand to friends and family. They have an average number of Facebook friends, but this group also spends the least amount of time on Facebook. Because of this, Facebook as a social media entity doesn’t play much of a role in their daily lives (101). You can see why it’s not entirely useful for brands to cater to this group via Facebook. They also have a medium level of self-monitoring the activity they do online. They aren’t concerned with the kind of image they’ve created for themselves through “liking” certain brands on Facebook, but it is still very possible that this group uses other aspects of their Facebook to project a desired image. This is done through the selection of what photos they post or the content of their status updates. The members of this group also consider themselves to be not materialistic and they’re Facebook behavior through “liking” brands suggest that they are not concerned with the opinions of others when it comes to identifying with a brand through their Facebook page (100).

One example of an ad or brand that Utilitarians might “like” on Facebook is this ASOS, an e-commerce fashion site targeted at young adult females.



Although the ad indicates to us that it has a high number of likes, our knowledge of Utilitarian Facebook behavior tells us that most of these likes come primarily from the incentive the ad is giving (access to the exclusive sale preview) and not actual brand loyalty on the part of the Facebook “liker.”

Similarly to the Utilitarians, the fourth Facebook fan typology, “Authentics,” are a group unconcerned with image, however the “likes” they give to certain brands on Facebook are genuine. This group has high levels of brand loyalty and love for the brands they “like” on Facebook. Their level of word of mouth isn’t that high because the brands usually “liked” by this group are established, popular, and not too self-expressive (102). This group also has a low number of Facebook friends, which suggests that the way they interact with brands on social media is reflective of the way they interact with people in real life. The interactions are more intimate and more frequent, making Facebook an extension of their social group in the real world. This makes it smarter for brands to advertise to this group  (102). The scores for self-monitoring and materialism for this group were also low because they do not seek validation from others online via the brand they “like” on Facebook. This goes back to the idea that the “likes” they give to these brands are most genuine.

The three brands below (Tide, Coca-Cola, and Apple) are examples of the kinds of brands the Authentic may “like” on Facebook.



These are highly established brands with huge followings and for that reason, the word of mouth on these products is significantly lower than say that of the Blueprint cleanse.


We felt that this study was significant and reflective of the contemporary climate of ads and brand culture because it suggests something that a lot of consumers have been thinking: there seems to be an immediate disconnect between the amount of “likes” a brand receives on Facebook and actual consumption of that brand. A lot of the activity that takes place, not just on Facebook, but on social media in general has to do with the creation of a desired self. The internet and emergence of digital media has allowed everyday, ordinary people to become social media curators. It’s not just reflective through the photos and content on these various forms of social media but through the brands we “like.”

That being said, there are a few limitations to the study. The sample used in this study was a single-culture sample made up of all Irish students. In order to make the results of this study more accurate, researchers should observe a cross-cultural sample made up of students from different regions of the world (104). There was also a limited exploration of user-generated content. Examining the way students interact with their friends on Facebook through status “likes” and comments on news feeds will help researchers to know whether or not they should broaden typologies to include other members of the Facebook community (104). There is also no discussion of the typologies that “un-like” brand pages. Monitoring this activity would give researchers an accurate time frame between the time a consumer “likes” and “un-likes” a brand.

Understanding Facebook fan typologies is especially important for brand and advertising agencies because it lets them know that something like Facebook “likes” is not always indicative of how successful or unsuccessful their brand is. A suggestion for ad agencies in the future is to open up research departments that specialize in this type of behavioral analysis. This can be thought of as the second wave of the Creative Revolution. Not only will creatives and salesmen be working together to come up with provocative strategies, but researchers of social media behavior can help to measure the effectiveness of these strategies. Creating strong relationships between brands and their consumer constituencies is going to be essential for the future of advertising and digital media.

– BM and CY



Buil, I., de Chernotony, L., Hogan, M., Wallace, E. “Who ‘Likes’ You… and Why?: A Typology of Facebook Fans From ‘Fan’-atics and Self-Expressives to Utilitarians and Authentics.” Journal of Advertising Research. 92-109. Web. Mar. 2014.


Target Niche Advertising: Adolescents and Acne Prevention Ads

During the mid-twentieth century, the United States experienced a significant surge in the population as a result of the baby boom that occurred after the second world war. As the baby boom generation grew past childhood, they became recognized as the adolescent or teenage demographic. For the first time in American history, teenagers became a sought after market because of their ability to pick up on trends and their tendency to use spending money on leisure products. Although teenagers are past the childhood phase of life, they are still an impressionable group which makes them attractive to advertisers. The adolescent market still proves to be a very coveted demographic in the eyes of ad agencies today. Adolescents are bombarded with advertisements related to music, fashion, food, health, and television on a daily basis.

Although teenagers are the most advertised-to demographic in the country, some argue that this kind of constant advertising can play on the self-esteem of adolescent consumers in a negative way. Advertisers have found a way to circumvent this criticism by taking on products that deal with the one issue that most teenagers deal with: Acne. In most acne advertisements, the main narrative suggests that by using the product featured in the ad, the adolescent consumer will feel more confident in their own lives, whether it be in school or with friends. By examining the three different acne advertisements above aimed toward teenagers, I will examine how accurate and necessary these ads are, the kinds of ideologies they promote, and discuss whether or not these ads are harmful or helpful while trying to connect confidence with normative ideas of beauty.

The first advertisement featured is a commercial for the acne-prevention brand Clearasil. In order to draw a connection between the items used in the ad and the ad’s overall meaning, advertisers use semiotics (as discussed in Roland Barthes’ “The Rhetoric of the Image”). The young kids, students walking around lockers, and ringing bell are all signifiers that suggest the ad takes place in a school setting and is aimed at the average American teenager in high school. The ad also uses signifiers of fast moving airplanes, trains, and trucks to signify how fast the Clearasil product is supposed to work. Using the phrase “fast” as the main metaphor in the commercial, suggests that urgency is a key factor that teenagers look for in an attempt to tackle their acne. The normative idea promoted in this ad is that acne is seen as a detriment and is supposed to be taken care of immediately for fear of judgement from other people. This normative vision of the adolescent world is reflected in “Advertising in the Age of Accelerated Marketing” from Robert Goldman and Stephen Papson.

The second advertisement featured is a commercial for another acne-prevention brand, Clean&Clear. It features adolescent women of various ethnic backgrounds insisting that the Clean&Clear product has cleared up their acne and changed their lives for the better. Clean&Clear uses testimonials (as mentioned in the Communication Strategies section of “Social Communication in Advertising”) to reach the adolescent consumer. However, Clean&Clear does this in a more creative way by using a diverse array of smiling, relatable teenage girls to give these testimonials instead of doctors or other skin and health experts. This ad does a good job of connecting the ideas of confidence and self-assurance to their product.

The third advertisement is a commercial for the brand Epiduo. Unlike the other brands, Epiduo is a prescription-based product and not something you can buy at the counter of your local drugstore. The teenagers in this ad are seen trying to use ridiculous home remedies to get rid of their acne, before finally trying and succeeding with Epiduo. Not only does Epiduo connect confidence to their product, but it promotes a normative vision of the world where most teenagers can easily gain access to their prescribed product. What it doesn’t acknowledge is that most teenagers in America often do not have easy access to doctors and healthcare so it might be a lot more difficult for them to be able to use their self-proclaimed life-changing product.

No matter what the angle of an advertisement is, the message is always the same: in order to fix the problem you’re having or replace what you’re lacking, you must buy our product. Since advertising’s main goal is rooted in consumerism, alternative organizations often use culture jamming as a means of reaching both naive consumers and alienated spectators. As discussed in Vince Carducci’s “Culture Jamming,” the act of culture jamming challenges the idea that consumerism is the answer to all social and political issues. If I were to create a proposal for a web video, I would use the theory of culture jamming to make a spoof video of acne commercials targeted at teenagers. The video would focus on one teenager walking through the halls of a high school describing all of the ways in which a specific acne product has changed their lives with confidence being the main factor. They’d start by saying that their clear skin has improved their confidence and that this newfound confidence has improved their performance in school. A teacher would then return a test on the teenager’s desk with a high F on the top. The teenager would then walk through into the cafeteria claiming that their confidence has helped them to be more friendly with their peers. The teenager would then sit down at a table of fellow students and the students would vacate the table upon their arrival. The last part would feature the teenager claim how their newfound confidence has helped them to perform better at their game. The teenager would then be shown in a soccer match as a goalie and completely miss the ball as it flies past them into the net. All of the scenarios in the spoof ad would show that the connection between beauty and confidence that these acne companies try to promote are irrelevant and that confidence should come from other places.

My main critique of acne advertisements geared towards teenagers is their usage of the term confidence. Connecting confidence to beauty (from clear skin) is harmful because it suggests to consumers at a young age that beauty is most admired quality in our society. Instead, we should acknowledge the confidence should come from other places, like our personal skills and personalities. If acne advertisements want to be more accurate, they can start by focusing on the health advantages that their products have and not focusing on the adolescents’ insecurities about beauty.

– BM

Semiotic/Cultural Revolution Analysis – AxePeace

Axe, the company for men’s grooming products, is known for it’s sexually suggestive ads and attempts to appeal to the young male demographic. But as a part of their new AxePeace campaign, the brand decided to go in a different direction. For the debut of the new AxePeace line, which includes body wash, deodorant, shave gel, and other products, Axe premiered this 60 second commercial during Super Bowl XLVIII. The advertisement features places from around the globe in varying states of turmoil and seemingly ill-tempered world leaders and soldiers on the verge of declaring acts of war. The ad then takes a dramatic turn when these acts of war are presented as acts of love in the form of vibrant firework shows and elaborate portraits for the women in the lives of each world leader and soldier. The simple and appropriately placed slogan “Make Love. Not War” appears at the end of the commercial, connecting Axe as a brand to the universally cherished values of peace and love.

This ad for AxePeace is a prime example of the kind of legacy the Creative Revolution has left behind. As counterculture and the movement away from capitalism and conformity began to take shape during the ‘60s, ad agencies were forced to find new ways to connect with the youth audience that went beyond the cut and dry sale of a product. The Creative Revolution ushered in a new era of advertising, one that made high quality and cinematic elements, politically liberal social messages, and out-of-the-box ideas the standard. Like advertising pioneer Bill Bernbach said in the film Art & Copy, advertising became about making a statement. AxePeace does just that with it’s visually stimulating images of the cruel realties of war and how it affects people of all cultures around the world. It takes a stance against the conforming attitudes of war that plagued the youth of the ‘60s and the youth of 2014. The ad suggests that the alternative values of love and peace are not only for the benefit of the world, but can also be considered attractive to the opposite sex. Its reference to real world issues has a greater impact on the jaded consumer. By tapping into these cosmopolitan values, Axe is able to reach the average young, alienated spectator through emotional appeal.

Although the Creative Revolution embraced the idea of using unconventional methods to create a successful advertisement, there are still basic factors that all ad agencies use in order to convey a certain message or set of messages. Through semiotics and the use of signifiers, audiences are able to dissect the messages that advertisers want to send about the product and their overall brand. In the AxePeace ad, the signifiers are men in military uniforms, helicopters and tanks, abandoned buildings, and areas in a state of chaos. These are all meant to signify soldiers, important military personnel, and places in the world that have been associated with heavy military conflict. Although not explicitly stated, they are assumed to be Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia (Vietnam), the Middle East, and North Korea. The message being sent through these signifiers is one that takes away the glamorization of war and highlights its detrimental effect on human society. The signifiers in the second part of the commercial, the fireworks, kissing scenes, and coupled portraits signify messages of love and affection. Axe cleverly associates its brand with the value of love by referencing it’s grooming products to the potential for world peace as seen in the last part of the ad where one of the world leaders is sprayed down with AxePeace body spray. Of course Axe knows that audiences are not going to associate their men’s grooming products as the solution to the world’s major conflicts, but they position themselves as a brand that recognizes how powerful the value of love is and shows that through the small displays of intimacy between world leaders/soldiers and their lovers in the ad.

AxePeace also carries ideology through this commercial. It shows the world as an often dangerous and cruel place due to the decisions and choices made by an elite group of people. However, love and positive emotion are presented as the key elements to overcoming a world of violence. While showing the power of love, it simultaneously suppresses the contradictions and harsh realities that go hand in hand with international conflict. Often times, love is not this simple ingredient that can be sprinkled onto violent struggles and people aren’t guaranteed the happy endings as seen in the advertisement. Although this major contradiction rings true, the ad still promotes an idealistic vision of the world while not straying too far from the reality of the situation.

Thanks to the legacy of the Creative Revolution, ads like this AxePeace commercial use high quality visual technology, innovative ideas, and bold political statements to transform the way consumers view brands.


Historical Analysis: U by Kotex

In March 2010 the feminine hygiene brand, Kotex, released an advertisement to introduce its new line of tampons, pads, and panty liners called ‘U by Kotex.’ The commercial features a young woman describing the emotions she usually feels every month when she’s on her menstrual cycle. Along with the woman’s description are jovial visuals of butterflies, beach scenery, and cheerful girls dancing. The ad ends with a question, mocking the feminine hygiene ads of the past.

This ad for Kotex is clever in the way that it satirically uses traditional advertising concepts. The main concept being used ironically in this commercial is the idea of the lifestyle. Lifestyle is used as an aspirational tool in advertising that convinces the consumer that there is a certain standard of living that one must become accustomed to. In most cases, the lifestyle used in traditional ads is one that involves material items like expensive homes, cars, and vacations associated with high society. However, this ad focuses on the attitudes and social norms attached to the products it’s advertising. The main narration of the ad along with the lighthearted images in the background provides the consumer with a kind of “mental” lifestyle. While using these new tampons, pads, and panty liners, the consumer will share the same feelings of joy as the women portrayed in the ad. The ad dematerializes products that are essential to female anatomy to the point where it is no longer about their actual function, but the mental lifestyle attached to it. Kotex recognizes that this tactic of using lifestyle to sell something as necessary as feminine care products is asinine and uses humor and satire to point this out. The use of irony and self-awareness make this commercial the quintessential contemporary advertisement.

Perhaps the most important element of this advertisement that makes it a product of it’s time, is in the way it tries to humanize itself. At the 40 second mark of the commercial, Kotex poses the question “Why are tampon ads so ridiculous?” It acknowledges that feminine care ads of the past were not realistic and undermined consumer intelligence. Ad executives at Kotex even admitted to researching their own commercial archives while creating this new, more sensible ad. Through this humorous commercial, Kotex embodies the modern-day advertising trend of humanization and the idea that “Corporations are just like people you know.” Kotex is able to empathize with the typical modern woman by subtlely acknowledging the universal opinion that going through the monthly cycle is not pleasant. The 21st century consumer is aware (for the most part) of dishonest traditional advertising concepts and has become wary of huge corporations. Kotex’s commercial has established a new kind of trust and understanding between the company and the consumer, which is essential to success in the modern world of advertising. Bridging the gap between the corporation and the audience through wit establishes an honest dialogue between the ad and the consumer. This kind of truthful advertising makes Kotex a reflection of the modern consumerist world.


U by Kotex: Reality Check

The advertisement above is a 46 second commercial from the feminine hygiene brand, Kotex that made its television debut in March 2010. The ad features a young woman sarcastically describing the relationship she has with her menstrual period. It begins with the woman describing the cheerful emotions she feels when she gets her period each month and is accompanied by visuals of girls happily twirling on the beach and colorful butterflies. The commercial then ends with her satirically thanking other tampon commercials for being so helpful in their ads.

This advertisement is memorable to me because it is one of the more relatable commercials to air on television within the last five years. Every woman knows that experiencing the stomach cramps, chronic headaches, and fatigue that comes with our monthly cycle is anything but pleasant. For a company like Kotex to address a sometimes-sensitive issue with such directness and humor is genius.

This Kotex commercial was the perfect way to introduce the ‘U by Kotex’ line of tampons, pads, and panty liners, which is specifically targeted at young women experiencing their period for the first time. Mocking the lighthearted yet absurd feminine care ads of the past shows young girls what they can really expect while older women can have a laugh contrasting the ads of then and now. Humor and familiarity are the two elements that make this advertisement so impressive and prove that being truthful is the best way to connect with your intended audience.