For this assignment I looked at Beyonce’s Facebook profile. It was interesting to choose Beyonce because I recently read about the design team, Designed Memory that “partnered with Beyonce and her production company, Parkwood Entertainment, to completely revamp her online presence.” The team claims that, “B drives the (online) conversation” while her fans can “easily communicate via her site.”
Beyonce has 38,919,589 as of October 18, 2012 with her most popular age group being 18-24 year olds and the most popular city being Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her about me includes her birthdate, hometown and record label as well as links to her numerous websites including Myspace, VEVO, Spotify and others. She also writes, “for the official view into my world – by me, for you X B –“ with a link to the website created by Designed Memory. This is the one line of text that suggests authenticity in accordance with Hugo Liu’s four theories of taste performance.
Liu writes that,
“In the semiotics of fashion, authenticity is associated with a relaxed style and the display of slight imperfection (Davis, 1992)… They [project] a relaxed feeling, their lists of interests [are] not overly verbose or coherent, and they often [break] from form and convention.” He explains that “authenticity is important in the eyes of some subcultures, including rap culture (Simpson, 1996) and club culture (Thornton, 1996).”
This is significant to the way Beyonce and her publicity team want her to be perceived by the media and her fans. As her music is regarded by the fashion, rap and club cultures, she must be able to present herself in an authentic way in order to be received well by her fans. Thus, in her short “about me” sentence, she uses laidback punctuation (no capital letters) and shorthand (“X B”) to signify that she is writing this text herself.
Following the short note from Beyonce, her official Facebook page includes a significantly longer biography section with a detailed description of her achievements and personal background that take away from the authenticity she previously presented. This section of text, along with the rest of her about me (basic info, contact info, also on) produce a taste of prestige which Liu classifies as a taste that
“is always performed so as to appeal to some group of people. When enacted, the rule prescribes that interest tokens be selected and combined so as to exhibit solidarity with the taste norms of some social group—such as a subculture (e.g., punk, hip-hop), or perhaps the “popular culture.”
Beyonce’s about me, which is most likely written by her publicists and not her, displays a slew of awards she has received including Grammys, being #1 on the Billboard Top 100 and performing for President Barack Obama on his inauguration night. Such details are significant to the industry the singer identifies herself with, which makes her appear both professional and ahead of the curve in her role as a musician. Her awards and her achievements are prestigious and so is she.
Beyonce’s profile also lists a number of “likes” that are products she currently endorses or has contracts with. Her “likes” include Revel, a casino and resort in Atlantic City where she signed an exclusive to do a number of concerts following the birth of her daughter in 2012, as well as Columbia Records (her record company), Target (where she sells her perfume line and music), VEVO (where she displays her music videos, Beyonce parfums (her perfume line) and Vizio, a brand she endorses.
Her likes confine to Alice Marwick’s ideas in her article “I’m More Than Just a Friendster Profile: Identity, Authenticity, and Power in Social Networking Services.” Marwick argues that Facebook structures how we construct our identities and that our identities become consumer reports of what we are likely to buy. She explains that some people choose to resist consumer culture by writing sarcastic statements that are remotely untrue or by creating profiles that do not include any personal information about themselves. However, due to the fact that Beyonce is a prominent figure in popular culture and this is her professional profile that is meant to be seen by the public, she is most likely required by clauses in her contracts to list these brands on her Facebook page so that her public persona can be easily identified with these brands. If it were her personal Facebook profile page, the artist will be more likely to include false information about herself (even her name and vocation) in order to distract her fans from bothering her and use the profile solely for her close friends and family.
According to Alice Marwick and danah boyd in their article, “I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience,” we always present ourselves in the way that we imagine our audience to be. Our imagined audience is a performance of the self, a group of people who are our mirror image. Although I cannot speak for Beyonce I can guess that her imagined audience is a female with a passion for R&B and pop music interested in fashion (the mirror image of the artist herself). Based on her posts to her Facebook, she mostly promotes herself (announces the release of her new album) as well as posting about things she believes in such as reminding her fans to vote during the presidential election. Other posts are more related to music (including a sale of her music on iTunes or being awarded an American Music Award nomination for Favorite Female Artist in the Soul R&B category). Her collection of interests from politics to music, family and tennis are all compiled on her Facebook page. She uses it as a platform to endorse her clothing lines and fashion collaborations but also to endorse friends and family (sister Solange Knowles’ new single and husband Jay Z’s Barclays Center concert). Overall, Beyonce’s profile is appropriate to her vocation and to the framework of a common celebrity Facebook page with a loyal fan following.