Dangling conversations: web-forum use by a symphony orchestra's audience members

O'Sullivan, Terry (2010). Dangling conversations: web-forum use by a symphony orchestra's audience members. Journal of Marketing Management, 26(7 & 8) pp. 656–670.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0267257X.2010.481866


Interactive online communication forms an increasingly common adjunct to consumption of products and services, notably arts and entertainment. This paper aims to contribute to arts marketers' understanding of web-forum use by arts audience members, in order to guide thinking about the role of online interaction in their communication strategy. Rather than the participant (or non-participant) observation favoured by 'netnographic' research (Kozinets, 2002), the methodology here consists of a discourse analysis of semi-structured telephone interviews with web-forum users from the audience of a UK symphony orchestra, adapting methods from conversation analysis. Respondents offer a variety of self-constructions as users of web forums, from 'lurkers' reluctant to post for reasons of time poverty, social risk, and lack of cultural expertise, to more active users drawn to forums as a resource for identity management, information, and intimacy with performers, organisations, and other fans. Practice implications are that arts marketers seeking to integrate web forums and other social software into a wider-audience contact strategy understand and accommodate the variety of meanings that users invest in this activity.

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