Itai Himelboim, Araujo, T., & Maslowska, E. (Accepted). Integrating network clustering analysis and computational methods to understand communication with and about brands: opportunities and challenges. Journal of Advertising.
Abstract: Brand-related content co-created by consumers can play a crucial role in brand-consumer interactions and provide brands with valuable insights hidden in vast seas of unstructured data. We propose and evaluate a framework integrating a social network approach and scalable automated content analysis of texts and visuals for studying brand-related communication on social media. To illustrate the proposed approach, we use Twitter content related to two brands – Barclays and Sierra Club. Applying network clustering algorithms, we identify different types of organically emerging communities around brands. Cluster-specific diffusion leaders are identified using their in-degree centrality values. To examine the unique characteristics of brand-related content within each cluster, we apply and assess the accuracy of popular off-the-shelf solutions for text and image analysis. Of six sentiment analysis solutions, only one shows acceptable reliability levels. For computer vision APIs, we first identify labels that have unclear or imprecise meaning and calculate accuracy levels, resulting in acceptable accuracy levels for 4 of the 5 APIs. We discuss conceptual and practical implications of this integrative approach and of the technological hurdles that these popular automated content analysis applications pose.
Abstract: Fans of brand pages are valuable as they help spread positive word-of-mouth on social media, and drive brand recommendations to other social media users. Companies, such as Nike and Coca-Cola, are focusing their social media strategies on identifying ways to motivate fans to share and create brand-related content. Whereas previous studies have shown that brand page loyalty and attachment are important for fan engagement with brand pages, this research examines engagement drivers for fans of brand pages from the perspective of self-expansion theory. A survey was conducted with 188 millennial users who have a favorite brand page on Instagram. The study examined users’ experiences on their favorite brand pages and how self-expansion needs impact sharing and creation of brand-related content. Our findings show that brand page self-expansion is a more important driver for sharing and creation activities than brand page attachment. Thus, companies should provide content on their social media pages that helps loyal fans to develop their perspectives and skills, expand their sense of identity, and enable their personal growth. The findings also highlight that brands should strive to produce unique, tailored content on social media platforms in order to meet loyal fans’ self-expansion needs, and that successful brand pages should provide consumers with opportunities to acquire new knowledge and competencies in their interest areas.