Title

Does Linguistic Style in Social Media Communications Impact Consumer Engagement? an Abstract

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-2017

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Abstract

The rise of social media has boosted marketers’ interest in using these platforms to build relationships with customers and as potential tools for spreading word of mouth. While research has examined topics related to consumer-brand relationships on social media (de Vries et al. 2012; Labrecque 2014), the sustained use of social media platforms and their evolving nature merit additional inquiry (Kumar 2015). We extend the literature by investigating how the linguistic style of brands’ social media messages impacts consumer engagement. We look beyond the message content and investigate how the linguistic style of the message affects a consumer’s decision to interact with the brand, taking into account not only what is being said but also how it is communicated.

This research examines how the semantic content of a brand’s social media communications affects consumer engagement activities at the message level (likes, comments, and shares). Our research builds upon previous studies that examine brand post popularity (de Vries et al. 2012; Berger and Milkman 2012) in two important ways. First, we look beyond the message content and investigate how the linguistic style of the message affects a consumer’s choice to interact with the brand. In essence, we take into account not only what is being said but also how it is communicated. Second, we take into account that consumer social media interactions at various levels are interrelated. That is, each action increases the reach of the message and therefore affects additional actions. Our Multivariate Poisson Regression Analysis allows us to simultaneously compare message characteristics across our three levels of consumer engagement (likes, comments, and shares).

We utilize data from Fortune 500 companies’ Facebook positing and create a linguistic style profile for each post using the Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC) software (Tausczik and Pennebaker 2010). The results of our research offer both managerial and theoretical implications. While previous research has examined how message elements affect likes and comments on Facebook, our research provides additional insights by examining how the linguistic style characteristics of the message, not just the message content, influences consumer engagement. Furthermore, our analysis allows us to simultaneously compare message characteristics across three levels of consumer engagement (likes, comments, and shares). This multivariate analysis is important as these consumer engagement activities are interrelated. Managerially, our research provides important and direct ways in which firms can strategically design their social media messages in order to facilitate consumer engagement activities. Consumer engagement on social media sites is important to managers since the success of brand pages on these sites hinges on consumers engaging with brand communications that help the brand (Berger and Milkman 2012).

Comments

This is a chapter in Creating Marketing Magic and Innovative Future Marketing Trends, pages 597-598.

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