Social Network Analysis – Introduction

For this analysis we have chosen the social network website Instagram. Instagram was first launched on October 6th, 2010 (Wikipedia, 2016). We have chosen this website to analyse because Youtubers often use their Instagram account to promote their videos, as well as promoting products they have been instructed and accepted to advertise in their videos.

We could have also chosen the network Facebook. Facebook has been founded in 2004 (Facebook, 2016). Facebook was one of the first social media networks to be launched and therefore has been able to build up a big amount of active users, namely 1.5 billion (Statista, 2016). Youtubers often use Facebook as a way to communicate to their fans; they   regularly post new videos, information about their channel and other updates on this platform. As it is important for this research to obtain recent information about the connection between Youtubers and brand endorsement, the regular use and constant posting of user-generated content is a necessary source.

Though there is one downside to using this social network as a source for the data we will need. If one uses Facebook, you will only have the option to scrape data from one ‘page’, a page can be the page of a celebrity, a company or a brand. Using a page to scrape data from limits this research greatly. Thus we have chosen to use Instagram instead of Facebook.



A scraper is the tool we have used to conduct this research. With a scraper tool one can find the connections between different hashtags. The hashtags we will be using to conduct this research are: #youtube, #spon, #vlogging, #youtuber and #ad.

We believe these hash tags are the best choice for this research, because these hashtags may give information on if there is a connection between Youtube and brands. And if there is, we may see what other hashtags are related to these hashtags.

This information can be obtained around a certain place (using longitudes and latitudes), between a certain time (using specific dates) and from specific networks (either Instagram or Facebook).

Since we have chosen the network Instagram for this research, we will be using a tool called ‘Netvizz Hashtag Explorer’. This website can be accessed by the link: .

To use this tool, you will have to fill in a hashtag you want to explore or scrape information from. We have chosen explore the tags: #youtube, #spon, #vlogging, #youtuber and #ad.

Once the tool has gathered information on this, you will be able to download the gathered information in a zip file. This zip contains various types of files and among one of these files is a gdf file type, which you will be able to open in the programme ‘Gephi’. In this programme, you will be able to visualise this data into a graphic, using the various functions in this programme to make the graphic to your taste.


For all the graphics we have used the location ‘Amsterdam’ and the information within 5000 meters of Central Amsterdam. The altitude is 52.367822 and the is longitude 4.895859. The date we have chosen to scrape this information from is Sunday March 20th.


Social Network Analysis – Results



(figure 1.1 Graph from #youtube)

In this graph you can see the connection between the #youtube and other hashtags. For example, on the right side of the figure, this hashtag is connected to the hashtags: picoftheday, nailaddict, gelpolish, cutenails and colour.

The edges of this graphic are the lines between the ‘circles’, these circles are the nodes or hashtags that relate to the hashtag ‘Youtube’. The thickness of the edges visualises the amount of times it was used in relation to the hashtag Youtube. If the hashtag in relation is used often, the line is thicker, thus thinner when it is not used very often.

What can be concluded from this graph is that the hashtag Youtube is mainly used in pictures that relate to nails (as shown on the right side of the figure), celebrities (as shown on the left upper side of the figure), and to Youtubers (as shown on the left down side of the figure). Celebrities included in these connections are: Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and the band One Direction.

Youtubers connected to the Youtube hashtag, are Dan Howell (known as ‘danisnotonfire’) and Phil Lester (known as ‘amazingphil’).

The nails related hashtags seem to be used often in relation to the #youtube, which can mean that there are posts about nail art that link to Youtube videos. It can also mean the users of these hashtags use the same tags in one post.

In addition to these hashtags, there are other related hashtags such as goals, style, happy and food. These hashtags can be considered general hashtags which have nothing of interest, in regards to this research, to say about the tags that we are exploring.

Thus can be concluded that the ‘#Youtube’ does not give proof of an existing relation between brands and Youtube vloggers.



(figure 1.2 Graphic: #Spon)

In this graph you can see the connection between the hashtag ‘spon’, this is an abbreviation of the word ‘sponsor’, though it can also refer to ‘sponsorship’. During our Netnography search we often stumbled upon this word and therefore decided to use it in our Social Network Analysis.

On the left side of the graphic one can see #spon is often linked to easter, snickers, snickercrisper, instagood, travel, food, recipe, etc. The link between the ‘snickers’ and the tag ‘spon’ may exist because in this tag the product ‘Snickers’ is advertised. In addition to this, the tag food may relate to other food brands.

On the right side of the centre, there are a lot of thick lines. These lines visualise the related tags are often used with the tag ‘spon’. Examples of these tags are ‘phillester’, ‘amazingphil’, ‘danhowell’, ‘danisnotonfire’, ‘youtube’, ‘youtuber’, and words with the word ‘phan’ in it. The names ‘danisnotonfire’ and ‘amazingphil’ are the usernames of Phil Lester and Dan Howell on Youtube. The word ‘Phan’ stands for their combined names. The fans of Dan and Phil often use this word when they are talking about the friendship of these two people. We think that they are related to the tag ‘spon’ because they might be associated with ‘spon’ or sponsors.

In conclusion, in this graphic sponsors are related to Youtube. Thus there might be a link between brands and Youtubers.



(figure 1.3 Graphic: #ad)

In this graph you can see in the centre of the graph see the tag #ad. You can make out three clear fields of tags that are related to each other. The words is an abbreviation of the word ‘advertisement’.

In the field at the bottom of the graphic you can make out a lot of Arabic tags. But a few tags in that field are in English, and these are the tags ‘phone’, ‘special’, ‘numbersale’ and ‘pingphone’. These tags might be related to each other because they are advertisements for phones.

The upper left field is a field that contains words such as ‘happy’, ‘words’, ‘love’, ‘day’, ‘good’, etc. These words do not have a specific meaning or relation to our research question, thus are not relevant.

The upper right field contains more relevant words to our research such as ‘fashion’, ‘clothes’, ‘shoes’, ‘runningshoes’, ‘blog’, ‘blogger’, ‘shopping’, ‘accessories’, etc. These words are relevant to our research because they contain products that are advertised. These worlds have links to ‘blog’ and ‘blogger’ which proves a connection between blogs and advertisement. These products are associated with each other because they are believed to be related to each other by the users of these tags. Thus the conclusion can be made that there is indeed a connection between brands and vloggers/bloggers.


Final Recommendations

In our research we have conducted desk research, online research, netnography, and social network analysis.

We have come to the conclusion that marketers can very well profit from using a platform like YouTube and engaging with YouTubers as well as with their audience through them.

It is a lucrative way to create, build, and retain brand awareness, brand recognition, and brand loyalty. It is furthermore a great tool for promotional strategies, especially through the use of sponsored videos.

For marketers and advertisers it is important that they do not approach this platform the way they do traditional media, because YouTube is  a very new and intricate platform for advertising.

While it is lucrative and offers many opportunities, it can be tricky to create the right content for the target audience. Social Media like YouTube is very much based on human connections and demands two-way communication. It is important that brands really engage and do not alienate themselves from their audience. They need professional communicators to create a strong relationship between the brand and its audience.

Sponsored videos should furthermore be advertised as such and should not try to deceive the rather perceptive audience. They need to be honest and authentic, so that the YouTuber and the brand do not lose their credibility.