Going into this Digital Artefact I was hesitant. Having done these sorts of projects in the past this felt the same, but different?
This was an experience where I had to intently observe the way that people on Twitter interacted with each other and the content I posted whilst still developing an online persona. Developing an online persona seemed simple enough as navigating social media and conversing with others and posting has become second nature but remaining active on a consistent basis is what I knew would prove most difficult. It was from this that I knew that choosing a media niche I was passionate about and would enjoy working on over a consistent basis was essential.
In doing so I’ve been able to simultaneously produce content about a topic I enjoy and passively research the audience in an ethical manner and on a consistent basis.
As mentioned earlier I decided to use Twitter to observe my media niche as well as Spotify to a smaller extent. In essence, this was a Hip-Hop Twitter account that featured hot takes, rap memes, opinions and lyrics that were all relevant and circulated within the Hip-Hop music sphere. Similarly a Spotify account accompanied the Twitter account and was updated on a weekly basis, the tracks on the playlist were based off of popularity and relevance for that particular week and the playlist as a whole is comprised of songs from rappers who have been circulating around the Hip-Hop sphere during that week.
On that point, when I began working on the account there were a plethora of background sources in which I drew inspiration from when both creating content and building my online persona. Depending on the content I was aiming for, tweeting news based comments I grew great inspiration from accounts like @XXL and @raptvcom as they were by far the news-based Twitter accounts that gained the most traction and therefore had the widest and most diverse research pool to gather information from. However when it came to creating posts that further fleshed the more personable side of the online persona I diverged from these accounts and based my account and persona off of more opinion based profiles such as @GothamCityRap , @RapTalkv2 & @TheNeedleDrop , these are all users who base their entire online persona off of ‘Hot Takes’ and impulse reactions to albums and music that has recently come out.
Making memes and posting them to the account was also a key part of building an online persona that best suited my media niche as memes are such an important part of the Twitter Hip-Hop community. With an astounding amount of meme formats and memes based around Hip-Hop topics and figures I had an abundance of content to work with, especially with such a rapidly moving niche, new music is released weekly and new artists emerge daily giving me and every other creator on the platform a lot to work with when creating content on the platform.
The Hip-Hop media niche is an incredibly diverse one with people from all backgrounds and parts of the world being fans and consumers of such a diverse genre of music, as a result of this I had an incredibly wide research pool to work with and gather information from to better understand how people consume Hip-Hop and then communicate and translate their thoughts into the Hip-Hop Twitter sphere.
There have been two main readings I have incorporated whilst investigating the way that the audience within the Hip-Hop Twitter community interact. One of which is a source by Michael Richard titled “Turning back to the story of my life: an autoethnographic exploration of a researcher’s identity during the PhD process”, the source itself details the autoethnographic process in great depth including a part of the process where epiphanies occur, this was critical for my research as there were no shortages of these in my research. The source states “Part of an authoethnographers research is noting down epiphanies that occur during their research” so I did just that. One of the largest epiphanies I experienced was the lack of exposure and interactions I was getting on my own posts so I used this knowledge and listed it all down in the week four blog post. This allowed me to redirect my research strategy and began using the comment section of larger pages to gather research after I began releasing that my own tweets were struggling to garner attention and be a useful form of gathering information. Similar to this, the second academic piece that assisted my research was a piece from an article by Morse and Richard titled “Easier Said Than Done: Writing an Autoethnography observes the methods and forms of data that can lead to well detailed and founded ethnographic research. A quote from the article states “Data in ethnography traditionally arises from interviews, participant observation field notes, document and artifact analysis, and research diaries”. This sort of information allowed me to realise that there were more forms of data to be gathered other than just comments and likes on Twitter posts, the article also allowed me to realise that gathering notes and observations I picked up on while passively researching consumers of the Hip-Hop niche was imperative because of how rapidly it changes and how quickly the landscape moves. I was able to then accompany this source with a New York Times article that detailed how Hip-Hop artists such as 50 Cent and Lil Wayne have utilised their platform to garner attention and build a fanbase. These sources founded the approach I took when gathering research and how I handled epiphanies I experienced throughout the entirety of the project.
So in essence, there were many trials and tribulations experienced while researching the media niche audience over the last semester but also an equal amount of learning curves and bits of knowledge that allowed me to better understand the audience and complete the research to the fullest.