Brand-made children in New Zealand: an interactionist perspective on children's use of social media for interacting with consumer brands
This research set out to explore how children's use of social media affects their interactions with consumer brands. The research goals were formulated to find out how children's use of social media helps them to interact with brands, to learn about brands, how such use interacts with other sources of brand information, and how social media use shapes children's relationships with consumer brands. This topic is interesting because of the fact that social media platforms are showing massive, global growth in the numbers of people of all ages using such platforms to communicate with each other. Such communications include people sharing information with each other, and it is known that people share market-related information such as talking about brands, forming brand preferences, and joining brand communities. Such social exchanges might offer opportunities for brands to participate. Based in an interactionist perspective, this study used thematic analysis to code children's qualitative interview data for major themes relating to their use of social media for brand interactions. Themes were transformed into a source code which was applied to the dataset, so subsequent line-by-line analysis could be undertaken. This research reveals that eleven to fourteen year old children use processes when interacting with consumer brands on social media. The processes consist of three big conditions, and these are knowing, reacting, and deciding. Each of these conditions has two smaller, interactive conditions attached to them. Knowing has identifying and noticing; reacting has describing and evaluating; and deciding has watching and relating. The combinations of bigger and smaller conditions are salient, because such combinations explain how children are interacting with brands on social media. These findings have theoretical value for academic marketing scholars in the emerging area of children's social media use. These findings have value for parents and educators, seeking to understand aspects of children's social media use; especially with how children are using social media as a source of market-related information. These findings also have value for business marketers seeking insights into how the next generation of consumers are using social media to interact with brands.