Publication details

Informality on social media : Instagram influencers and their linguistic accommodation



Year of publication 2019
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The emergence of influencers, otherwise referred to as digital celebrities or superusers, who manage to build a large and loyal following owing to their captivating performance is considered one of the most important milestones in the Web 2.0 environment. In order to become successful online and attract as many users as possible, the preliminary findings of my research suggest that these digital celebrities accommodate to the language of their target audience and assume the role of their friend and lifestyle guru. While the power of influencers is visible on multiple social media platforms, this paper focuses on the language of Instagram, where their impact is potentially the strongest as the majority of Instagram users is formed by Millennials. These actively participate in social media trends and represent a highly influential group of consumers. Language-wise, Millennials are often accused of disrupting the norms of written language and their linguistic performance is typically described as too informal. Since informality is one of the most characteristic features of youth talk, this research presents itself as a pilot study of informality on Instagram, a predominantly visual social media platform with an inconspicuous textual element. More importantly, this project aims to identify the status of informality on Instagram and the extent to which it is appropriated by influencers in textual and visual modes. The analytical data consist of posts that have been extracted from Instagram profiles of three influencers with comparable number of followers and scanned for any recurrent features of informality. Inspired by the communication accommodation theory, this paper argues that Instagram influencers linguistically converge to their audience by adopting features of informality and thus challenge the (unwritten) norms of what level of informality is acceptable online.
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