Assessing the effect of narrative transportation, portrayed action, and photographic style on the likelihood to comment on posted selfies

Stefania Farace*, Tom van Laer, Ko de Ruyter, Martin Wetzels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Web of Science)


Purpose - This paper aims to assess the effect of narrative transportation, portrayed action and photographic style on viewers' likelihood to comment on posted consumer photos.

Design/methodology/approach - Integrating visual semiotics and experiments, this research examines the influence of consumer photos on viewers' likelihood to comment on the visualised narrative. One pilot, three experimental and a content analysis involve photos varying in their narrative perspective (selfie vs elsie) and portrayed content (no product, no action or directed action). The authors also test for the boundary condition of the role of the photographic style (snapshot, professional and "parody" selfie) on the likelihood to comment on consumer photos.

Findings - Viewers are more likely to comment on photos displaying action. When these photos are selfies, the effect is exacerbated. The experience of narrative transportation - a feeling of entering a world evoked by the narrative - underlies this effect. However, if a snapshot style is used (primed or manipulated) - namely, the photographic style appears genuine, unconstructed and natural - the superior effect of selfies disappears because of greater perceived silliness of the visualised narrative.

Practical implications - Managers should try to motivate consumers to take selfies portraying action if their aim is to encourage electronic word-of-mouth.

Social implications - Organisations can effectively use consumer photos portraying consumption for educational purpose (e.g. eating healthfully and reducing alcohol use).

Originality/value - This research links consumer photos and electronic word-of-mouth and extends the marketing literature on visual narratives, which is mainly focused on company rather than user-generated content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1961-1979
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number11/12
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • eWOM
  • Selfie
  • Narrative transportation
  • Snapshot

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