Social media, existence, identity dynamics and experiential consumption

Caroline C Wilcox-Ugurlu, University of Rhode Island


The aim of this research is to explore the transformative effects of social media on individuals and businesses. Chapters two, three and four explore different but related topics. Chapter two examines social theories in light of the scope of the social change wrought by social media. The main finding is that social media are changing individual and collective consciousness for engaged users and thereby having transformative effects on existence, thus warranting a review of major extant theories of experience and social interactions that predate the emergence of Computer mediated Environments (CMEs) and social media. Chapter three explores social media identity projects, specifically, how experiential products are woven into consumer social media identity projects. The main contribution of this chapter is that it provides an explanation as to how Facebook and other social media are becoming tools to create coherent identity narratives and how experiences are used as currency in this process. Further, it provides insights about the power of controlling audience access though “unfriending” and how this creates a freer performance. It also examines consumer ambivalence and how there is some yearning and nostalgic feelings for Real Life (RL) connection while the modern reality moves forward toward increasing reliance on CMEs. Marketing implications of these findings are enumerated. Chapter four examines responses of experiential business to marketing environments that have been altered and consumers that have been transformed by social media. Challenges and opportunities being created by social media for marketing practice are identified, and strategic suggestions are offered. The research contributes building blocks for a new theory that goes beyond co-creation, incorporating the emergent properties of social media The emergent theory holds that we are on the cusp of a new realty that is extending the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) relationship – beyond co-creation – where consumers; including their global, mobile, social media communities; and the businesses with whom they are engaged are involved in the manufacture of experiences in ongoing “real time” settings. On a macro level, the chapters taken together present an overview of how social media are impacting existence. On an applied level, the managerial implications of the changes ushered by social media for marketers of experiential products are detailed. Qualitative methodologies – including interviews and ethnography (physical and net-based) – are employed to unpack emergent themes.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Caroline C Wilcox-Ugurlu, "Social media, existence, identity dynamics and experiential consumption" (2011). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3454990.