Brand posts on Facebook, the social network, typically generate more electronic word of mouth (eWOM) by using hashtags and images or video, but perform less well if they rely on high levels of positivity, a paper in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) has found.

Taemin Kim (Incheon National University, South Korea), Hyejin Kim (DePaul University, USA) and Yunhwan Kim (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, South Korea) were the authors of the study.

And they used computational analysis to examine 71,112 brand posts on Facebook from 46 companies in the Fortune 100, a list of the largest companies in the United States by revenue.

Their paper, entitled How do brands’ Facebook posts induce consumers’ e-word-of-mouth behavior? Informational versus emotional message strategy: A computational analysis, then assessed the resultant electronic word of mouth (eWOM).

And by drilling down into this activity – as demonstrated by consumer responses such as ‘Likes’ and favourable comments – the academics made some instructive findings.

From an informational perspective, they revealed that “the use of multimedia, brand names, and hashtags likely will produce more eWOM – that is, likes and positive comments.”

Turning to emotional considerations, they looked at the use of “social words” like plural pronouns – for example, “they” and “us” – and the use of subjective assertions rather than objective facts.

In these areas, the “findings demonstrated that the higher degree of post subjectivity and use of social-processing words tended to generate more eWOM.”

Another insight covered the use of links in messages – a tactic that was less favourable when it comes to securing electronic word of mouth, although the academics called for further research in this regard.

“Use of a link in a brand post as an informational message strategy was found to be associated negatively with the higher number of likes. That means including a URL link in a brand post likely will decrease the number of likes from consumers,” they wrote.

The level of positivity in a brand post “also was found to exert negative effects on generating positive comments,” according to the study.

“The more positively intense a brand post was, the less likely it would receive a positive comment from consumers,” the paper explained.

One possible reason is the greater cognitive labour that is needed to process and respond to this type of content, which may limit the consumer response.

“Given that leaving a comment requires some extent of cognitive efforts, positive brand posts might have hindered consumers’ commenting activities by making the consumers utilize their cognitive resources,” the study said.

Sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by WARC staff