References:

Sources:

  • Baym, N. 2010, ‘Communities and Networks’, Personal Connections in the Digital Age, Polity Press, Cambridge, pp.106-139
  • Baym, N.K. & McVeigh-Schultz, J. 2015, ‘Thinking of You: Vernacular Affordance in the Context of the Microsocial Relationship App, Couple’, Social and media society, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 1-13
  • Burgess, J. and Green, J. 2009, YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture, Polity Press, Cambridge.
  • Bishop, J. 2014, ‘Representations of ‘trolls’ in mass media communication: a review of media-texts and moral panics relating to ‘internet trolling’’, International Journal for Web Based Communities, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 7-24
  • Carroll, J. Jiang, H. Zhang, S. 2011, Integrating online and offline community through Facebook, Collaboration Technologies and Systems, IEEE, pp. 569-578
  • Chang, H. 2010, A new perspective on Twitter hashtag use: Diffusion of innovation theory, Proc. Am. Soc. Info. Sci. Tech., vol 47, no 1, pp.1-4,.
  • Chen, G. 2011, Tweet this: A uses and gratifications perspective on how active Twitter use gratifies a need to connect with others, Computers in Human Behavior, vol 27, no 2, pp.755-762,.
  • Faber, B. 2002, Community action and organizational change, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale.
  • Goffman, E. 1959, The Preservation of Self in Everyday Life, Penguin Books, New York
  • Hambrick, M.E. & Mahoney, T.Q. 2011, ‘It’s incredible – trust me’, International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 10, no. 3/4, pp.161-179.
  • Jamie Skye Bianco, 2009, Social Networking and Cloud Computing: Precarious Affordances for the “Prosumer”, WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, vol 37, no 1-2, pp.303-312,.
  • Koller, V. 2008, ‘More Than Just a Colour: Pink as a gender and sexuality marker in visual communication’, Visual Communication, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 395-423
  • Lievrouw, L.A. 2011, ‘New Media, Mediation, and Communication Study’, Information, Communication, and Society, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 303-325
  • Majchrzak, A., Faraj, S., Kane, G. and Azad, B. 2013, The Contradictory Influence of Social Media Affordances on Online Communal Knowledge Sharing, J Comput-Mediat Comm, vol 19, no 1, pp.38-55,.
  • Mendelson, A. L. & Papacharissi, Z. A. 2011, Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites, Routledge, New York
  • Miller, V. 2011, Understanding Digital Cultures, SAGE, London
  • Sheldon, P. & Bryant, K. 2015, ‘Instagram: Motives for its use and relationship to narcissism and contextual age’, Computer in Human Behaviour, 58, pp.80-97
  • Smith, J.D., Wenger, E. & White, N. 2009, Digital Habitats: Stewarding Technology for Communities, CPsquare, Portland
  • Stragier, J., Evens, T., & Mechant, P. 2015, ‘Broadcast yourself: an exploratory study of sharing physical activity on social networking sites’, Media International Australia, 155, no. 1, pp.120-129
  • The Janissary Collective, 2013, ‘Participatory Culture and Media life: Approaching Freedom’, in A. Delwiche & J. Henderson (eds.), The participatory cultures handbook, Routledge, New York
  • The World of Blogilates, 2015, The World of Blogilates (video description), videorecording, Youtube, viewed 16 May 2016, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ox3KMmHxPM>

Images:

POP Blogilates

The rise of social media has allowed the existence of communities such as POP Blogilates. The community functions around Cassey Ho, however the interconnected nature of digital presence allows members to exist on multiple platforms in multiple ways. Different platforms allow different affordances, defined by the “relationship between the materiality of technological artifacts and the lived practices of communication.” (Baym & McVeigh-Schultz 2015) These affordances allow a diverse practice of communication within the community and evaluating them allows an understanding of the POPster communicative ecology.

Sophie Finckh

Facebook

When Facebook users participate online there actions are often derived from real world origins. Facebook “provides various communication channels (wall post, person-to-person chat etc) and different metaphors in the real world (group, event etc.)” (Carroll et al. p. 577) In this way, the POPsters function most similarly to real life on Facebook. There is pilates events users can attend, different sub-groups users can join, direct and instant discussions. Once a user ‘likes’ the page, the member is able to fully engage within the community, receiving updates in their own newsfeeds.

Sophie Finckh

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Website & Blog

http://www.blogilates.com/

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The POP Blogilates community website acts as the neutral centre of all digital presence, representing a large information space enabling Cassey and her executives to “distribute knowledge beyond those with prior understanding of the community.” (Majcharzak et al. 2013) Web 2.0 technology has enabled easy-to-navigate interfaces, friendly to site visitors, further empowering the distribution of community behavior and information. Unlike other platforms, the nature of the website is strongly controlled by Ho and content creators rather then public community particpants. Hyperlinks to YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with corresponding outreach statistics are in the top right corner, which creates the linked ecology between all media platforms. By creating one centralized page, community member involvement is facilitated, encouraging participation. ‘Cloud Computing’ allows site visitors to engage with the community without compulsory download, allowing potential members to browse and participate organically (Bianco 2009).

Sophie Finckh

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YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/user/blogilates/videos

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Cassey Ho’s fame, and therefore the POPster community, was generated through YouTube with videos she posted on her workouts. The channel now boasts over three million subscribers (YOUTUBE) and over 300,000,000 views. The channel provides step-by-step workouts, clean eating recipes and informative video logs. Youtube lets content creators to upload videos in which users can view, comment and reply too. Burgess and Green (2009) argue that content creation is less significant than the uses of that content within social network settings. The ‘reply’ format allows members comments to be directly answered by community mediators or Ho herself, who can be identified as a lead-user. (Burgess & Green 2009) This creates a personal engagement between Ho and community members.

Sophie Finckh

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Instagram

@blogilates

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The POPster community has multiple Instagram bodies. @Blogilates follows Cassey Ho herself, where as @poppilatesofficial represents the POP army (INSTAGRAM). Faber’s (2002) idea of image-power suggests that image-intensive applications such as Instragram, allow communities to maintain power through the shaping of internal and external identities. This is particularly important to the POPster community as the ideologies that formed it are aesthetically based. Images consist of ‘before and afters’ motivational quotes, photos of Ho in bikinis and activewear, videos of classes displaying physical audience participation. The constructed identity forms the

community character. Although characteristically an affordance of Twitter (Chen 2016) the POPster community benefits strongly from the hashtag function. Associated hashtags include #POParmy #POPster #POPlove #POPlife. Members of the community are able communicate with other members through the hashtags. (Chang 2010) The #POPFlex hashtag for example, specifically links members with product-related content. Adding a hashtag to a post allows members to engage with the community, as it is a “conscious personal choice, made individually for each message.” (Bruns & Burgess 2011, p. 28)

Sophie Finckh

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Twitter

@blogilates

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Sport trends and the industry itself has been attributed to the growth and success of Twitter. (Hambrick & Mahoney 2011) Twitters 140 character limit enables a different experience to other platforms that although conduct themselves through other mediums are not actually limited in how they do so, such as YouTube videos have no time limit. Twitter has the least amount of followers compared to the other platforms possibly because of this restriction. The word limit does establish an appropriate forum for quick reminders and motivational quotes to POPsters. Ho uses the platform in aggregation with other platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Youtube with equivalent images and video hyperlinks.

Sophie Finckh

Offline

As the community surrounds itself around a physical occurrence it is understandable that a large part of the community is offline. In a sense, “technology … can be seen as a technical representation of the real world” (Zhang et al. 2011, p. 577) replicating the POPster communities substantial existence. Although the community was constructed online through Ho’s videos classes and meet ups between POPsters now exist. The ‘Blogilates’ APP encourages these meet ups.

Sophie Finckh

 

Purpose

There is a current worldwide trend that utilises the ubiquity of social media in order to promote a fit and healthy lifestyle choice. In addition, key players in this field frequently promote, sell and endorse fitness and wellbeing related merchandise. These products often include sports wear, fitness equipment, food supplements and workout guides. This trend is being seen on multiple platforms, and thus reaching a huge number of potential consumers (Hambrick and Mahoney, 2011). Facebook pages, Instagram accounts and Twitter feeds of fitness experts-come-celebrities have enormous followings and extensive reaching power.

Cassey Ho, a fitness instructor and entrepreneur is the creator of ‘POP Pilates’. Through using social media this has morphed into many different forms including Blogilates. The Blogilates YouTube channel description labels itself as ‘more than just workouts…it’s a COMMUNITY of POPsters who live and breathe POP Pilates’ (The World of Blogilates, 2016). It is the ‘community’ of people (‘POPsters’) that interact with Blogilates or and Cassey herself that will be discussed in the following ecology mapping.

Miller (2011) points out that the Internet is no longer just about economic and business life, it has become more about social, political and cultural communication. It is this new use of the Internet that is changing its purpose. There are an increasing number of communities that we can now see online and their ‘integration’ into all parts of life (Miller, 2011, p.1), is a reason many people participate in them. In regards to the POPsters, the participants are on multiple social media platforms and it is easy to stay connected. In doing so, the users may feel like part of a community and feel a sense of belonging.

The people who participate in the Blogilates community include many different types of people, from those with extensive experience with fitness to beginners. The Janissary Collective describe how participatory culture in Western society is often thought to be ‘empowering’ (2013, p.258), and therefore, it could be argued that people interact with these communities in order to feel good about themselves and increase their self-esteem.

However, people may take a step further than empowerment, and be seen to be boasting or looking vain online (Sheldon and Bryant, 2015), as they comment on posts from Blogilates with pictures of their progress, for example. However, Goffman (1959) discusses the way in which using a different persona can ultimately change who you are, and Mendelson and Papacharissi (2011, p.52) discuss how digital communities ‘enable the presentation of a highly selective version of yourselves’. Therefore, those who may seem to be vain may actually feel like the purpose of this digital community is to provide a space and an audience for them to put on a show, and to escape reality.

Another role/purpose of the POPster community is being able access information about the fitness programmes and workouts associated with Blogilates. In addition, Frost and Massagli (cited in Stragier et al, 2008, p.122) discuss the way in which people share information regarding sporting injuries on health related websites, in order to find more information/discover others who have encountered the same situation. It could therefore be argued that POPsters comment on and interact with Facebook posts and Instagram pictures etc. from the Blogilates page, in order to do something similar, just in a less formal manner.

Jamie Schneeberger

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Gender

Blogilates is home to a large and diverse community of like-minded people interested in both health and fitness with a contemporary flare. However, there is an evident participatory profile that predominantly categorises a large sector of the Blogilates ‘POPster’ community. It is evident after analysing each platform of the Blogilates community that the majority of socially active community members appear to be female. Although male members can be found in various areas of the Blogilates social media platforms, the ones most socially active online appear to be the ‘trolls’ or ‘haters’, community members who enjoy commenting negative remarks on POPster posts and criticising the effectiveness of the Blogilates program itself.

The majority of Blogilates posts and videos, such as “Six minutes to a sexy little waist”, “Best workout for sexy, slim calves”, and “Quick burn booty and thighs workout”, are clearly aimed towards a predominantly female audience, utilising the word sexy and slim and arguably stereotyping the desires of women rather than men. Cassey’s use of colour and wording in her social media posts and advertising campaigns also allude to a specific target market, with the profuse amount of pink theming and colloquial ‘girl language’ increasing the interaction of women in a community setting. Koller states that “consumer goods targeted at a female market are suffused with pink, usually combined with rounded shapes and rather static perpendicular vectors,” (2008, p.395). This statement reaffirms the way in which colors can be used to include and exclude certain genders, in this case the way in which Cassey Ho is shaping her company to be targeted to a certain audience.

The POPster community is based predominantly around positive body image, appealing to a community of theoretically younger women who are portrayed in society to suffer more from body image issues. After analysing the various interactions between POPsters, it is clear that women of this mindset are more likely to join a community such as Blogilates, as it is a space they feel comfortable in knowing they will be encouraged and supported amongst similar, like-minded people.

Sophie Leicester

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