Avengers: Endgame Dissertation (Part 2) – The Findings

[DISCLAIMER: This blog post is a condensed version of my research’s findings. If you’d like a copy of the complete dissertation paper, please e-mail arifahbadli@gmail.com. If you’d like to read about my journey in writing this dissertation (including my personal motivations, challenges, and methodology), head over to Part 1]

After an insane amount of late nights and hard work, I managed to submit my final year dissertation consisting of 10,000 words during a global pandemic. Alhamdulillah, Newcastle University gave my research paper, “#DontSpoilTheEndgame: An Investigation Into Social Media Engagements With the Viral Phenomenon of Avengers: Endgame” a First Class grade of 78/100! 

ABSTRACT: Avengers: Endgame was a film released in 2019, the finale of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Infinity saga, that not only became the highest-grossing film worldwide but broke records in terms of social media engagements, making it a viral phenomenon. This research explores the factors leading to high engagement with the film online, revealing social media’s role as a space for meaningful conversations about a beloved media franchise. To investigate this area, insights from 692 online questionnaire respondents as well as a sample of 1,000 random tweets posted during the film’s screening period were gathered. This data was then analyzed thematically to interpret the ways in which social media users interacted with Avengers: Endgame, and why they were inclined to post or share about the film. Drawing on theories of participatory culture, convergence culture, virality and cultural phenomena, the findings argue that meaningful social media engagement with Avengers: Endgame was influenced by psychological motivations – such as emotion, exclusivity, and secrecy. Other than that, this research discovered the powerful capacities of social media in uniting people across the world to interact with the film online through fandom communities, production of user-generated content, and interactive features. This communal genuine urge to share about Avengers: Endgame succeeded in spreading the word to a large audience and making content about the film go viral. However, the negative aspects of this, such as fan labour and spoiler-related anxiety, are also touched upon. Evidently, social media plays a huge role in elevating media audience participation in this digital era. 

Keywords: Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Cinematic Universe, social media, engagement, fandom, participatory culture, convergence culture, viral, cultural phenomena, film marketing

As we all know, academic writing is often dull – it lacks humour, storytelling, personal experiences, and is full of hard-to-understand jargon. So please enjoy this condensed and more fun version of my dissertation findings! For every major finding, I’ve also provided an alternative example from a different real-life event for better understanding. It will take you about 15 minutes to read, if you can spare the time to do so. 

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Why choose Avengers: Endgame as a case study?

Well, other than the fact that I myself am a huge Marvel fan… the movie gained 40.5 social media engagements during release week, breaking internet records. It was also named as the most tweeted movie of all time in 2019. Also, director Joe Russo himself mentioned that Endgame couldn’t have achieved the numbers it did without social media.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is also an extremely unique movie franchise in the sense it released 21 movies prior to Endgame are interconnected with each other. Every movie is a small part of a huge jigsaw puzzle, despite featuring different characters. This means that most people who regularly consume American entertainment are familiar with at least a few movies or characters even if they aren’t huge Marvel fans. That small sense of familiarity could have influenced them to watch Endgame, thus posting about it on social media.

Continue reading Avengers: Endgame Dissertation (Part 2) – The Findings

Avengers: Endgame Dissertation (Part 1) – Producing A 10,000-word Research Paper During A Global Pandemic

[DISCLAIMER: This blog post is about the journey of writing my dissertation (including my personal motivations, challenges, and methodology). To read a condensed version of my research’s findings, please head over to Part 2.  If you’d like a copy of the complete dissertation, please e-mail arifahbadli@gmail.com]

On the 29th of May, 2020, I finally submitted my 10,000-word dissertation titled “#DontSpoilTheEndgame: An Investigation Into Social Media Engagements With the Viral Phenomenon of Avengers: Endgame”. I consumed way too much coffee for the defining assignment of my university life. It was worth it though – because I am extremely proud of my findings. And well, it ended up being a First Class dissertation, receiving 78 marks out of 100 – which is considered a brilliant score in the UK system. Alhamdulillah! I’ve only written one other essay that managed to get a mark higher than that. 

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So, what is a dissertation, exactly? There are many other word variations for a research dissertation – thesis, final year project, and so on. But generally, many university students all over the world have to produce a piece of original research during their final year. For my Diploma in Communication and Media at UiTM, my groupmates and I did research on The Portrayal of Skin Colour in Malaysian Advertisements. Even conducting research as a group gave me severe head pain – but nothing compared to my degree dissertation! In fact, that Diploma assignment looks so amateur now compared to my most recent work. 

So for those of you who don’t know, I am a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and have been since the first Avengers movie came out in 2012. Obviously, I was super pumped for Endgame (my followers would know…) and had the best cinematic experience of my life watching it with an amazing crowd. Being a media student, I was extremely fascinated observing the amount of social media hype regarding Endgame. I think my curiosity about this started as early as Infinity War (April 2018) – because before Infinity War, I’d known invested Marvel fans to be a tight-knit group of people. Like, among my circle of friends… I know who the Marvel nerds are, and I rarely talk about Marvel to those who aren’t interested. But when Infinity War came out, there were spoiler leaks all over the internet (yes, I’m still traumatized by that… that’s why I ended up writing a whole dissertation about it…). Which made me scratch my head and wonder, SINCE WHEN DID EVERYONE AND THEIR GRANDMOTHER BECOME A MARVEL FAN????? I was getting forwarded spoilers in class and housemate Whatsapp groups – something I have NEVER witnessed for any other movie ever. I barely even remember anyone talking about Avengers: Age of Ultron when it came out in 2015 other than my fellow Tumblr mutuals! So naturally, I decided to pursue this area of interest for my dissertation. I mean, if I was gonna be investing a lot of time and effort into writing something, it might as well be something I’m passionate about. 

I had to write my research proposal while Avengers: Endgame was still screening. A whole year before my dissertation submission. Yet, a nagging thought entered my head: what if people don’t remember engaging with Endgame on social media anymore months later when it’s time for me to conduct my research????? So I did something probably nobody else did: I collected data immediately. I got an ethics form approved and distributed my online questionnaire to people. Before I had even done literature review readings or been assigned a dissertation supervisor. Insane, I know. But I had to do it, to ensure respondents’ maximum retention of their experiences engaging with Endgame on social media. I asked them stuff like “On which social media platform do you encounter the most Endgame content?” and “Which posts from the cast/crew stood out the most for you?” and “How did social media raise your awareness of Endgame compared to traditional media?”.

Continue reading Avengers: Endgame Dissertation (Part 1) – Producing A 10,000-word Research Paper During A Global Pandemic

If Social Media Never Existed, I Would Be A Different Person

arifah pic

I’d probably be a different person today if social media didn’t exist.

By social media I refer to all the participatory features of Web 2.0. When I was a kid, I wrote a lot (okay fine, I STILL write a lot…) so my Mum decided to upload my writings to a blogging platform. My first time being exposed to social media.

I cut my teeth on Myspace and Friendster. I ‘Became a Fan’ of Facebook pages and had to use a special website to write tweets longer than 140 characters. I found solace on a certain social media platform called Tumblr due to a lack of friends in middle school. Later at boarding school, I felt severely deprived of social media.

Every role that I’ve held in UiTM, apart from JAWS2K17 Director, significantly involved social media. My first unpaid role off-campus was Head of Social Media for NALS. I was once a dropship agent for a book publishing company – selling solely through social media. Half my university assignments are about social media – and even my //final year dissertation// (8-10k words) is about social media marketing. My past internship at Leo Burnett heavily involved social media analytics. My current internship for Newcastle University is focused on creating social media content. I stay in touch with most people until today through social media.

Social media has helped me discover new interests, amazing knowledge, brilliant connections, niche communities, and remarkable opportunities – the whole universe at the edge of my fingertips.

Continue reading If Social Media Never Existed, I Would Be A Different Person

Do Social Media Executives Get Paid to Tweet All Day?

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I haven’t blogged in so long. I have so much to blog about, but I don’t know where to start. And no, I am not dead, if you’re wondering. Just taking a break from my personal Twitter and Instagram accounts to break free and get my life together for a bit.

Ironically, I’ve been spending even MORE time on social media because I’m Head of Social Media for NALS 2018 and a Publicity Officer for The Kalsom Movement, and now is a very crucial time for both. There are new announcements several times a day. The frustrating part is I look like I’m just scrolling through social media for leisure for hours… when in reality the gears in my brain are whirring rapidly in order to schedule posts, delegate tasks, write captions, reply endless enquiries, and edit photos. However, I do love my jobs and am proud to be a part of such amazing organizations!

Some people think that working as a social media executive is getting paid (or in my case, NOT paid) for tweeting all day.

Technically, you’re not wrong. But there is so much more to it than that.

Every single thing you post reflects on your organization. It is probably the most up-to-date and most public face an organization has. It is essential to always provide relevant, accurate, engaging and interesting content. You really do not want to make a public figure mad by posting inaccurate facts about them.

We live in an era where content is always being shoved into our faces and fighting for our attention. It’s difficult to stand out and grab attention. Two Malaysian brands I know that have a strong online brand presence are Domino’s and Nando’s, always keeping up with the latest trends.

You also double as a customer service executive with all the enquiries and love/hate comments from netizens. Need to master the art of replying them well and winning their hearts.

It is also essential that you don’t, God forbid, accidentally whine about your co-worker on your organization’s story or share a link to a NSFW video on your organization’s Twitter.

You’re also expected to write good copy. REALLY. GOOD. COPY. (Copy = text/writing) Words are important and can make or break you. Think how good copy in Ikea’s catalogues are.

Different age groups use different social media. People 5 years older than me still use Facebook regularly while people 5 years younger than me think Facebook is for dinosaurs. Instagram and Twitter might end up like Myspace over the next 10 years.

And a very crucial thing in social media today? ALGORITHMS. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram used to be wonderful for small businesses, budding freelances, bloggers, and charitable causes. However, these money-hungry social media platforms now put the most ‘engaging’ and ‘relevant’ content on the top of your news feeds.

One thing I found out today is that nowadays on Instagram, the first ten minutes of your posting is CRUCIAL because it determines whether your post gets to be on people’s feeds or not. They only show it to 10% of your followers for the first ten minutes and if your post doesn’t get enough engagement, it won’t appear on the feeds of your other followers. This is why some users never ever appear on your feed. It’s so important to make sure the post is visually pleasing, has great copy, and is posted at a time of the day when users are active (usually 12-2pm/8-10pm).

The other day a rising celebrity with 30k followers posted an ad for a charitable organization but the post only received 20+ likes in the span of one hour. How sad is that? Even I get more than 20 likes in an hour. Her other posts featuring selfies and pretty clothes got hundreds and even thousands of likes.

By the way if you need a social media executive / content creator for your organization/business do contact me at arifahbadli@gmail.com. I can strategize publicity campaigns, design posters, write good copy, make your feed pretty, curate Twitter threads and tag relevant people. I have experience handling social media for 5 organizations and events (local and international!) with up to 7000+ followers. Will post my portfolio/resume here once it’s updated.