The Effects of Social Media Tone on Engagement: Evidence from Indian General Election 2014
Posted: 5 Jun 2017 Last revised: 23 Mar 2020
Date Written: June 4, 2017
Individual celebrities or “human brands” in fields ranging from sports to art to politics use social media platforms to connect and engage with their audience. We analyze the effects of the content generated by human brands (referred to as human brand generated content) on the popular social media platform, Twitter, on audience engagement. The first objective of this study is to examine the effect of the tone of human generated content on social media engagement. Building on the arguments of perception spillover effects, we investigate the content generated by human brands belonging to the same group as the focal human brand on the engagement of the focal human brand. Set in the context of the 2014 Indian general election, we find that both positive toned content and negative toned content have a positive effect on social media engagement. We find that the popularity of a human brand negatively moderates the relationship between positive tone content and engagement. Our findings provide evidence of interesting spillover effects of content created by related brands on the effectiveness of content created by a focal human brand. In particular, we find evidence for the presence of reinforcement effect, i.e., the effect of negative tone on engagement is greater when the tone of related human brands is negative, and the engagement is higher when the tones of both the focal human brand and related brands are positive. However, we find that the effect of negative toned tweets of a focal human brand is lower when the tone of related human brands is positive. Our analyses account for endogeneity issues, correlated unobservables, and reflection problem. We supplement our core results with additional analyses that include alternative model specifications, alternative samples, estimation strategies, and engagement metrics. We present the implications of this study to practice as well as the literature on social media content.
Keywords: human brand generated content, social media analytics, engagement, tone of social media content
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