Online Etos: Personlig branding via sociale medier

Uffe Birkedal

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis examines what constitutes the credible ethos in a fragmented online environment, and how such credibility is maintained offline. Furthermore, it is analyzed how job-seekers should approach social media, in communicating a personal brand. The theoretical framework, by which the problem statement is assessed, is compiled of four main parts. First off, theory on societal development is employed to describe how postmodern society has given rise to a new need of self-realisation. At the same time the existence of the individual is characterized by fragmentation, as one’s hunt for true identity remains in constant flux, and social relations are kept and judged by their ability to fulfill the needs of the individual, hence the need to reinvent and brand the self. Secondly, various theoretical perspectives on personal branding are combined with Goffman’s theory on self-presentation, to explain how the individual stages its presence before others. Thirdly, theory on credibility, namely the appeal form ethos, is applied to determine the make-up of the credible communicator in a fragmented online environment, with particular attention to the complex of problems that lies in the mixture of social and professional spheres. Lastly, theory on social media is employed to demonstrate its general role in society, and to examine their utility value in a professional context, as these Web 2.0 media have provided the individual with a number of powerful tools for self-presentation and self-realization. In coupling with the theoretical framework, four semi-structured interviews were conducted. Two were performed with experts in the field of personal branding, their purpose to obtain a more insightful grasp on the nature of the subject and the role of social media in communicating a personal brand. The other two interviews were performed with a couple of recruiters, to determine how such professionals utilize social media in recruiting, and how they perceive credibility in job-seekers positioning themselves online. The thesis concludes that in order for job-seekers to appear credible, they must wield sufficient self-insight, and found the personal brand in their true identity. Also, it is essential that one makes sure that various definitions of the self, communicated through different media are in proper alignment, as with the person recruiters see at an interview, such that no mismatches may occur, disrupting the credibility of the individual. Furthermore, it is concluded that job-seekers should work actively with their networks, and brand themselves through such, as most recruitments presently appear to be based on networking. This strategy is best carried out by demonstrating good-will, and an explicit intention to contribute to the network and help others, along with ensuring that the content of one’s communicative efforts carries relevance on the receiver’s end.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages147