Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2014

Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)

Degree In


First Advisor

Dalrymple, Kajsa

First Committee Member

Eko, Lyombe

Second Committee Member

Ekdale, Brian


This general purpose of this qualitative study is to investigate how businesses and consumers are co-creating brand value on social media by sharing photos on Instagram. The main focus is two-fold, one is to look at how corporations like Nike and Starbucks are utilizing Instagram to engage customers; another is to look at how customers presenting brand images and identify with brand personalities. This research analyzed 238 customer-created images and 62 corporate-created Instagram images using a hybrid method of qualitative content analysis and thematic analysis as an empirical way to explore the big picture of this new and understudied topic. The data was collected through Keyhole and Statigram, two online social media analytical tools. The analysis of the data shows overall positive brand image sharing among customers, implicit, indirect tactics in companies' official image sharing, and customers' use of brand as a way to promote and express themselves. Overall, customers' brand value co-creation practice on Instagram focus heavily on the individuals' self expression rather than brand community building. The study also discovered valuable themes of the use of selfies and the self-directed sarcasm among Instagramers who share brand images. The findings showed an overall decentralizing brand value co-creation process and that marketers today will face more and more challenges in controlling and managing a consistent brand image. The study contributes to the understanding of visual communication and the new marketing paradigm in a visual centric digital culture.


brand value, co-creation, Instagram, mobile photo-sharing, online marketing, social media


ix, 71 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 65-71).


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Copyright © 2014 Chia Yu Chang