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versión impresa ISSN 0719-3661versión On-line ISSN 0719-367X

Cuad.inf.  no.42 Santiago jun. 2018



Social media, branding and consumption: An analyze of communication value chains

Arturo ArriagadaA 

Liliana De SimoneB 

A Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Santiago, Chile (

B Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile (

The massification of online social media at a local and global level entails changes in the formation of the different economies and consumption cultures that develop under the wing of these platforms. In the cultural industry, these changes have blurred the distinctions between “producer”, “consumer”, “audience” and “emitter”, roles that nowadays hybridize as central agents in the production and consumption of goods, services and messages.

In this new scenario, shaped by the recent technological developments, consumption as a social and cultural practice has a complex role, and has become a main topic in the discussions of Communication Sciences. From this perspective, recent studies in the fashion, music, film, design, videogames, food and media industries, describe and analyze the role of “expert consumers”, “fans”, “bloggers” and “digital influencers” as a new communication phenomenon. Specifically, these works explore how these people generate value through digital communications concerning goods and services, and their own identities. This literature gives birth to concepts such as “aspirational work” and “immaterial work” to describe the practices and tensions around the creation of content and the generation of symbolic and economic value, in addition to the self-branding strategies deployed by the users on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

What role do consumers and their digital communications play in the creation of needs around goods and services coming from different industries (e.g.: fashion, music, games, media, design)? What are the identities and knowledge developed by these consumers? How do these digital practices and technologies contribute to the formation and reproduction of goods and services markets? How do the political communication flows affect the discourses created and shared through digital platforms?

These were the main questions that motivated the current edition of The aim of this issue is to expand discussions around consumer practices and the role of digital communications in the so-called “online social media economy”. From different theoretical and methodological perspectives, we have gathered a selection of works that explore the discourses of digital influencers and their political ideologies, the practices of content creators on YouTube and how this platform operates as a field of cultural production, and the communication of sports brands and organizations on Twitter. These investigations allow to address the relationships between platforms and content creators, along with the strategies and tensions that arise in their interaction. All of them are cases that explore different symbolic and economic value chains, configured through communication.

In the first article of this special issue, Fernández Gómez, Hernández-Santaolalla and Sanz-Marcos analyze the messages of a group of digital influencers from an ideological perspective, identifying the moderate tone and the non- ideologized character of their communications on Twitter.

The dynamics of the platforms and the negotiations faced by users in practices such as the creation of content is the focus of the article by Valderrama and Velasco, who address the discourses and practices of a group of YouTube content creators. Then, García Medina, Miquel-Segarra and Navarro- Beltrá analyze the content of the messages and the digital communication strategies of luxury and low-cost brands on Twitter, and conclude that they do not have stable or defined communication patterns to target their online audiences. Finally, the communication on Twitter of sports organizations with public and commercial purposes is analyzed by López de Ayala, Fernández and Catalina-García, finding differences in the style of communication that depend on the nature of the organization.

In addition, this edition of includes eight articles related to different areas of social communication. Schmitz Weiss, de Macedo Higgins Joyce, Harlow and Alves analyze, from an online focus group with participants from various Latin American countries, how entrepreneurial news organizations perceive innovations and sustainability regarding the operations of their organizations. From a political perspective, Nadia Koziner seeks to contribute to the conceptualization of the notion of standing by analyzing the sources and framings of Argentinean newspapers, while Tagle and Solà reflect on the “mediated frameworks” that were used in Chile for the news coverage of the death of Fidel Castro. Cavassana and Cervi, on the other hand, studied how two Brazilian magazines with ideological differences covered the presidential elections of that country in 2014. From a different perspective, two articles deal with gender issues. The one from Bravo, Amigo, Baeza and Cabello concluded that in Chilean television there are inequalities and representational biases, while Chalá realized that -in the case of Ecuador- it is possible to find asymmetries associated with gender capital that could be associated with a long-term vertical segregation of female advertising creatives. Finally, this edition includes the work of Negrete-Huelga and Rivera-Magos on the management of Twitter and Facebook of the state governments of Hidalgo and Querétaro and their link to the concept of “open government”, as well as that of González-Vázquez and Igartua that, from the theory of uses and gratifications, proposes the conceptualization of a scale, in Spanish, of the reasons given by adolescents to play videogames.

All these works show the multiplicity of topics, perspectives of analysis, methods, and countries that has systematically incorporated among its pages. This effort has been fruitful: today, we are the second journal of communications in Latin America in the Scimago academic journal ranking, which measures and compares the citations reached by the journals indexed in SCOPUS. We are proud to know that we are contributing more and more to the dissemination of communications knowledge in IberoAmerica, and at the same time, we are aware that this forces us to redouble our efforts to continue improving.

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