• Nicolai Koefoed Elnef
  • Habill Mahendran
The advent of social media has created an opportunity for companies to further expose their brand to current and prospective consumers, and it has allowed for a more free interaction between these two entities. It has also created an opportunity and necessity for companies to distinguish themselves from
other competitors on the employed social media platform(s) in order to stand out. This is accomplished through the expression of the companies’ unique corporate identities with which the consumers may associate and identify themselves. This association and identification between company and consumer may positively impact both consumer preference for, and consumption of, the brand, and this interest in the brand can manifest itself through the consumers’ propensity to engage with the brand. The company’s unique identity, and its expression hereof, may therefore facilitate or affect this engagement among the consumers. In order to investigate this phenomenon, this thesis has sought to analyse two different companies in separate industries, namely AirBnB and dbrand, with the intention of understanding the relationship between the expression of companies’ unique identity, and the resultant consumer engagement on social media. This should further provide an insight into how companies may best express their unique identity and thereby how this may affect consumer engagement on social media. In order to facilitate our analysis of this phenomenon, Devereux et al.’s (2017) theory on corporate identity and social media was employed to get a better understanding of the two case-companies’ use of, and behaviour on, social media. Here, the case-companies’ social media content was analysed through five stages pertaining to their choice to adopt social media, their choice of platforms, their choice of content, their stakeholders’ engagement, and, lastly, their interaction behaviour. Geuens et al.’s (2009) theory on brand personality traits was further employed in order to analyse the two companies’ expression of personality in terms of five distinct traits. This content analysis was also based on the companies’ social media content. It was ultimately revealed that the two companies have vastly different approaches to social media, with AirBnB presenting a more neutral, cautious and unoffending approach in which it showed an interest in bettering the community, e.g. through promoting its community initiatives and showing support towards the community, and, in relation to this, AirBnB primarily showed a propensity to express the responsibility and activity personality traits. On the other hand, dbrand presents a more risky, bold, and even offensive but humorous approach in which it showed a significant interest in promoting itself and its products, putting others down, and bantering with its stakeholders. In relation to this, it was found that dbrand primarily expresses traits of aggressiveness and activity. It was further analysed how these expressions of personality affected stakeholder engagement for the two case-companies. As it relates to AirBnB, it was found that its expressions of activity and responsibility received the most stakeholder engagement, though it was also determined that AirBnB experiences a low overall average engagement. In terms of dbrand, it was found that its expression of the personality traits aggressiveness and activity received the most engagement. It was also found that dbrand receives high overall engagement, both compared to the platform average but also compared to its nearest competitor. In order to get a better understanding of the relationship between the expression of the different personality traits and the resultant engagement on social media, a survey was sent out to American social media users. Here, a pre-assessment of the respondents’ preferences was performed, which showed a clear preference for the activity and responsibility traits, which matches AirBnB’s experience in terms of engagement. However, a further evaluation of the respondents’ behaviour showed a clear preference for the traits aggressiveness and emotionality. It is therefore indicated that social media content expressing emotion-driven traits like aggressiveness and emotionality, and content expressing dynamic, active, and innovative characteristics, like the trait activity, is more likely to facilitate stakeholder engagement.
Publication date2 Jun 2020
Number of pages139
ID: 333390927