Conceptualising and evaluating experiences with brands on Facebook

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International Journal of Market Research Vol. 55 Issue 3
357
© 2013 The Market Research Society
DOI: 10.2501/IJMR-2013-034
Conceptualising and evaluating
experiences with brands on Facebook
Steve Smith
Starcom MediaVest Group
Despite the growth in the number of brands with a presence on social media
such as Facebook and YouTube, questions remain about how to conceptualise
and measure people’s experiences with brands’ content on social media, and
how to measure the value of people’s behaviour around such content to brands .
By interrogating quantitative data garnered from 6,400 respondents we sent to
Facebook pages belonging to 27 brands across six brand categories during June
2011, this paper presents an overview of how we designed two sets of metrics, and
some of the findings from these metrics: (1) a series of ‘value of experience’ metrics
based on the likelihood of people who claim to have had positive experiences with
a brand’s content on Facebook to say they are likely to do different social media,
purchase funnel and brand advocacy actions for that same brand; and (2) a series
of ‘value of a fan’ metrics that measure the likelihood of people who say they are
likely to do different social media actions on a brand’s page (such as post positive
comments or share content) to say they are also likely to do different purchase
funnel and advocacy actions for that brand .
Introduction
With around 19 million over-14s in Great Britain visiting Facebook at
least once a month (IPA 2010), the online networking service offers brand
owners significant opportunities to attract and interact with people on an
ongoing basis through messages, videos, competitions, games and other
content, depending on what they want to achieve .
However, two questions with which marketers and advertisers have been
grappling are (1) how can people’s experiences with brands’ content on
social media be conceptualised and measured, and (2) how can the value of
the activities of people who interact with that content be measured (Fisher
Received (in revised form): 30 March 2012
Conceptualising and evaluating experiences with brands on Facebook
358
2009; Murdough 2009; Trusov et al. 2009; Ray 2010; D’Silva et al. 2011;
Kim & Ko 2011; Powell et al. 2011)?
The role of this paper is to present and discuss methods and findings
from a quantitative online study that Starcom MediaVest, London,
conducted during June 2011, which sought to concisely measure people’s
claimed experiences of brands’ Facebook page content, and their claimed
likely behaviour during and following those visits . We created three main
questions for the research . Do people who claim they have had positive
experiences with brands’ content on Facebook (such as emotional or
cognitive experiences):
1 . have a greater likelihood of saying they are likely to do an action on a
brand’s Facebook page (such as make a positive comment or share that
content) than those who claim they have not?
2 . have a greater likelihood of saying they are more likely to do a
purchase funnel action (such as consider or prefer a brand’s product)
than those who claim they have not?
3 . have a greater likelihood of saying they are likely to talk about and
recommend the brand and Facebook content than those who claim
they have not?
If these questions were answered in the affirmative, we would be able to
derive two sets of metrics, as follows .
1 . A ‘value of experience’ metric, not based on a monetary value, but
rather upon the likelihood of people who say they have had positive
experiences with brands’ content to say they are also likely to do a
social media action, a purchase funnel action and advocacy action .
2 . A ‘value of a fan’ metric, that measures the likelihood of people who
say they are likely to do a social media action to also say they are
likely to do a purchase funnel action and advocacy action .
It should be noted that our goal was not to uncover causality, but
merely possible associations between variables . For example, people
who already prefer a brand may have a high likelihood of saying they
are likely to post a comment on its Facebook page . Further, we would
stress that our research is based on claimed likely behaviour rather than
actual behaviour .
Data would also provide a set of benchmarks for each brand to compare
across time, for brand against brand from the same brand category, for
International Journal of Market Research Vol. 55 Issue 3
359
brand category against brand category, and for brand and brand category
against averages .
The experience marketing paradigm
Gilmore and Pine make the claim that marketing has moved beyond
the mere promotion of products and services, to centre upon subjective
experiences such as the senses, emotions and cognition (Gilmore & Pine II
2002) . Such literature reflects earlier work from sociology in which authors
argue that late modernity is partly characterised by the aestheticisation of
production, to help create what Featherstone calls ‘the aestheticization
of everyday life’ (Featherstone 1991, p . 65) . According to Featherstone
(1991), and Lash and Urry (1994), the aestheticisation of production has
occurred as practices from cultural media (such as art, design, literature,
music, radio and film) have steadily impacted and helped organise
marketing, advertising, design, packaging and display, to the extent that
people tend to understand and attribute value to brands, products and
services partly in terms of the experiences they have with their mediation
(also see Leiss et al. 1986; Lury 1996; Borghini et al. 2010) .
Conceptualising experiences with brands on social media
The central question for this study is, ‘What, if at all, is the association
between people’s claimed experiences of brands’ Facebook page content,
and their claims about their likely subsequent behaviours?’ We first
needed to conceptualise the notion of ‘experience’ . To do this, we did not
take a determinist position that social media designers, brand designers,
marketers and the like are able to actually govern people’s experiences of
what these agents create (cf . Bruner 1986; Fuss 1989; Schwandt 1998;
Guba & Lincoln 2004) . Instead, we adopted an approach posited by Grint
and Woolgar (1997), that technologies can be understood as ‘texts’ that
configure particular readings (interpretations), but are not determinate of
them (see also Kukla 2000; Hutchby 2001) . An upshot of this approach
is that, although how people experience phenomena (such as objects,
pictures, video, words) – whether they are online, on television or in print,
for example – is the consequence of how they ‘read’ those phenomena,
designers are able to configure particular readings . Thus, while all readings
are possible, not all are equally probable .
Another upshot of this approach is that any claimed likely behaviour
following exposure to a brand’s Facebook pages cannot be isolated solely
Conceptualising and evaluating experiences with brands on Facebook
360
to that exposure . Practically, this means that marketing practitioners
(and, in the case of this study, social media practitioners) need to accept
that experiences people have with their designs exist within an ecology
of experiences . As Maklan and Klaus argue in their study of customers’
experiences of UK mortgage services (2011), people’s experiences are likely
to arise in part from the cumulative effect of media channels, rather than
being driven by a single episode . Nevertheless, given our epistemology, we
would expect that even a single episode can play a contributory role in a
person’s behaviour, however small .
Conceptualised in this way, we can understand that a brand’s content on
social media forms one of many interfaces to that brand (cf . Simon 1969;
Lury 2004) through which brand owners are able to articulate the brand and
configure particular readings, and therefore experiences . Nevertheless, because
of its configuration, it is conceivable that people’s experiences of a brand’s
social media are qualitatively different from those encountered via other media
such as retail, television and print (e .g . Hui & Bateson 1991; Hoch 2002;
Grace & O’Cass 2004; Arnold et al . 2005; Ofir & Simonson 2007) .
An observation that Maklan and Klaus make (2011) is that because most
academic literature from marketing about experience is of a conceptual
nature, scholars have tended not to address the issue of generalisability .
This was a concern of ours . In order to undertake subsequent research that
would compare our findings with people’s claimed or actual experiences
via other media, we needed to employ a set of concepts that research
practitioners would be able to use across these . Therefore, we decided
that the concepts and experience statements we planned to use should be
generic, and not specific to social media .
Brakus et al. (2009) produced a rigorous set of statements for measuring
people’s experiences of brands across different brand interfaces . In their
study, the authors investigated literature from philosophy, cognitive
science and experiential marketing . From philosophy, Dewey (1922, 1925)
identifies intellectual experiences resulting from knowledge, perception
through the senses, feeling and doing . Reflecting Dewey, Dubé and LeBel
(2003) distinguish four ‘pleasure dimensions’: intellectual, emotional,
social and physical pleasures .
From cognitive science, Pinker (1997) isolates four responses to
environmental stimuli, which closely resemble the experiences Dewey
proposes: sensory perception, feelings and emotions, creativity and
reasoning, and social relationships . From experiential marketing, Pine and
Gilmore (1999) pinpoint aesthetic (which incorporate sensory effects),
educational, entertaining and escapist experiences within retail settings and
International Journal of Market Research Vol. 55 Issue 3
361
events . Schmitt (1999) put forward sense, feel, think, act and relate, while
Richins (1997) includes moods and emotions .
From this review, Brakus and colleagues derived five dimensions of
experience that can be used to measure people’s experiences across different
interfaces between people and brands: sensorial, emotion, cognitive,
behavioural and social . They then generated a 12-item scale from a series
of empirical and statistical studies that focused on these dimensions . For
our study we constructed a cut-down and amended version of this scale,
consisting of four statements, specifically to measure sensorial, emotional
and cognitive experiences of brand content on Facebook . In the conclusion
of their paper, Brakus et al . (2009) call for empirical research to examine
whether their scale can predict specific behavioural outcomes . In response
to their call, we used our amended version to see if responses to these
statements following exposure to brands’ Facebook pages are associated
with claimed likely social media, purchase funnel and advocacy actions .
• Cognitive experience statements: ‘This Facebook page stimulated my
curiosity’, and ‘This Facebook page made me think .’
• Sensorial statement: ‘This Facebook page had a strong impression on
my visual senses and/or hearing senses .’
• Emotional statement: ‘I experienced strong positive emotions while
viewing this Facebook page .’
Methods
We first needed to select an assortment of brands that have Facebook
pages, from a range of brand categories . Doing this would allow us to
compare findings between brands and between brand categories, and to
create benchmarks for them . Thus, for the main study, we decided upon
27 brands from six brand categories: finance, food and drink, health and
beauty, retail, media and entertainment, and technology and telecoms .
We wanted to quantitatively measure people’s claimed positive experiences
of brands’ content on Facebook, and their claimed likely behaviours . Of
course, some people in the study may have been likely to do particular
behaviours whether or not they had positive experiences . Nevertheless, we
wanted to see if an association exists between experiences and behaviours,
and observe any differences between claimed likely behaviours of this
group and claimed likely behaviours of people who did not claim to have
had positive experiences .
Conceptualising and evaluating experiences with brands on Facebook
362
According to Kendall (2011, p . 29), ‘Validity is the extent to which a
study … accurately measures what it is supposed to measure .’ One method
that would have been likely to deliver good research validity would have
been to interview each research participant from the moment they visited
brand pages on Facebook of their own accord, without any stimulus to
do so, and then interview them later to discover their actual behaviour .
However, a requisite to obtain a large enough sample in order to create
statistically significant findings made this method prohibitively expensive .
An alternative would have been to use a ‘pop-up’ survey on a brand’s
Facebook page, which a respondent could complete following their visit .
However, Facebook prohibits this research method, and in any case, the
likelihood of obtaining the permission of a wide number of brand owners
would have been considerably low .
In consequence, we decided to match each research participant with
a brand whose content he or she already had a likelihood to visit on
Facebook, based upon their brand and social media behaviour, interests
and demographics . We then planned to send each participant to that
brand’s Facebook content and subsequently interview them .
Employing a specialist agency, we recruited 6,400 people who are
regular Facebook users, who reside in the UK and who are representative
of the general UK Facebook population . We then gave these people
an online questionnaire that was split into three parts . The first
part explored their general social media behaviour, which included
questions about any behaviour around brand content on social media .
These questions were partly designed to allow us to explore subsets of
the overall sample, although findings from this fall outside the scope of
this paper .
The second part of the questionnaire asked questions that, along with the
first part, enabled us to decide to which brand Facebook pages to send each
participant, if at all . We then sent each participant to the most appropriate
Facebook page, and asked them to spend a minimum of three minutes
browsing the content . Importantly, we asked people not to post anything,
enter any competition, play games or watch videos, the reason being that
we wanted to ask them about likely behaviours (as below) . If during those
three minutes a participant returned to the questionnaire, he or she would
be eliminated from the research . Upon returning to the third part of the
questionnaire, we asked each respondent to answer questions that used
five-point responses, running from ‘Very likely’ to ‘Very unlikely’, and
respond to statements that used five-point Likert scales, running from
‘Strongly agree’ to ‘Strongly disagree’ .
International Journal of Market Research Vol. 55 Issue 3
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The first part of this final section of the questionnaire asked each
participant how much she or he agreed or disagreed with the experience
statements we designed . The second part consisted of a series of questions
about each respondent’s likelihood to do a selection of actions on the page
he or she visited . These included playing a game, entering a competition,
watching a video and posting a positive comment . Also included in this
were questions about each respondent’s likelihood to follow the brand on
Twitter, and Tweet about the brand and/or content . Together we called this
set of actions ‘social media actions’ . The third part consisted of questions
and statements about the likelihood of each respondent to do a variety of
behaviours in the near future, with a particular focus on purchase funnel
and advocacy actions .
Findings
On delivering experiences
Participants in our research are most likely to agree that the Facebook
content they experienced stimulated their curiosity, with 47% reporting
this . Participants are least likely to report they have been impacted
emotionally (Table 1) .
It arises from this spread of experiences that, when designing a brand’s
strategy for Facebook, a brand owner needs to decide which activities
they want people who encounter their content across different media
to undertake . For example, generating curiosity via Facebook can be
particularly important to media brand owners . A newspaper publisher
is likely to want to create curiosity through news stories on Facebook in
order to drive people to its website on which ads for other brands appear .
On the other hand, a Facebook page visit may also be a consequence of
a call to action, say via television, print or a digital ad, in which case,
Table 1 People who agreed with each of the experience statements
All respondents (%)
‘This stimulated my curiosity’ 47
‘This made a strong impression on my visual or hearing senses’ 46
‘This made me think’ 40
‘I experienced strong positive emotions while viewing this’ 36
n = 6,400
Note: Figures were derived by combining responses of ‘Strongly agree’ with ‘Agree’.
Conceptualising and evaluating experiences with brands on Facebook
364
curiosity is likely to be the reason for a page visit, and the content therein
needs to meet that need .
When a brand owner links through to its website, it is able to exert
more control over content, and has access to visitor data and cookies .
Alternatively, a brand may be able to meet curiosity by providing a
telephone number on its Facebook page, or recommending that a person
visit a store . Table 2 shows that, across our sample, people who agree that
their curiosity has been stimulated by a brand’s Facebook content are 2 .9
times more likely to say they are likely to visit the brand’s website than
people who say their curiosity has not been stimulated (sig . = <0 .001) .
In particular, it shows that visitors to retail, and media and entertainment
brands in our study who agree their curiosity has been stimulated are most
likely to say they will do this . However, visitors to content on Facebook
pages belonging to brands from these brand categories are among the least
likely to agree that this content has stimulated their curiosity (Table 3) .
Understanding that great value exists by instilling curiosity means that
brands, especially from retail, and media and entertainment, need to
configure greater curiosity in visitors .
It should be noted here and throughout that although we are not positing
a causal relationship between experience and action, it is conceivable in
view of our methodology that a positive experience can have an impact
(however small) upon likelihood to do a subsequent action .
Table 2 ‘This Facebook page stimulated my curiosity’
Of respondents who
agree who say they
are likely to visit the
brand site (%)
Of respondents who
do not agree who say
they are likely to visit
the brand site (%) Ratio
All Facebook brand pages surveyed 80 28 2.9
Retail brands 88 42 2.1
Media and entertainment brands 83 31 2.7
Technology and telecoms brands 79 23 3.4
Finance brands 79 21 3.8
Health and beauty brands 77 25 3.1
Food and drink brands 76 24 3.2
Agree n = 3,024 sig. < 0.001
Note: Figures were derived by combining responses of ‘Strongly agree’ and ‘Agree’ who were ‘Likely’ or
‘Very likely’. Figures for second column were derived by combining ‘Strongly disagree’, ‘Disagree’ and
‘Neither’ who were ‘Likely’ or ‘Very likely’.
International Journal of Market Research Vol. 55 Issue 3
365
Emotions: the key to increasing likelihood of social media actions
We consistently found that participants who say they are positively impacted
across the experiences we identified have a greater likelihood to say they
are likely to do a social media action than participants who say they are
not impacted . In particular, while participants are least likely to agree that
the brand’s content has stimulated strong emotions in them, participants
who say they experienced strong positive emotions are between 2 .3 and
3 .0 times more likely to say they are likely to do a social media action
than people who say they have not experienced strong positive emotions
(sig . = <0 .001) . This demonstrates why brand owners should seek
to configure positive emotions in people (Laros & Steenkamp 2005;
Thompson et al. 2006; Esch 2008; Payne et al . 2009; Veloutsou 2009) . As
studies from psychology show, when people experience positive emotions,
a cognitive attachment to the perceived source of that emotion is likely to
be created (Bowlby 1979, 1980; Thompson et al . 2006) .
In view of this, we found that 70% of participants who say they
experienced strong positive emotions say they are likely to do a positive
comment on the brand page to which we sent them, while only 22% of
participants who say they did not experience strong positive emotions are
likely to post a positive comment (sig . = <0 .001) (Table 4) . The greater
likelihood of people who say they were impacted emotionally to do a social
media action is also evident when we look at the likelihood of these people
to say they are likely to share content from the brand page (Table 5) . People
who say they experienced strong positive emotions with brands’ content
on Facebook are 4 .3 times more likely to say they are likely to share that
content than people who say they did not experience strong positive
emotions (sig . = <0 .001) .
Table 3 Respondents who agreed with the statement ‘This Facebook page stimulated my
curiosity’, by brand category
People who agree their curiosity has been
stimulated (%)
Technology and telecoms 52
Finance 50
Health and beauty 50
Retail 47
Food and drink 45
Media and entertainment 44
Agree n = 3,024
Note: Figures were derived by combining responses of ‘Strongly agree’ and ‘Agree’.
Conceptualising and evaluating experiences with brands on Facebook
366
The research shows that emotional connections are not the sole domain
of brands that some brand analysts and others describe as ‘emotional
brands’, such as Coca-Cola or Apple . For example, 36% of participants
we sent to the Coca-Cola Facebook page reported being impacted
emotionally, yet 46% of participants we sent to the Barclaycard page
reported the same . It would therefore seem that to describe one brand
as ‘emotional’ and another as not can be too imprecise . Our findings
suggest that the emotions people experience across very different brands
are themselves likely to be varied . Brand owners need to think about
Table 4 Respondents who are likely to post a positive comment (all respondents)
Of people who
agree, who say they
are likely to post a
positive comment (%)
Of people who do not
agree, who say they
are likely to post a
positive comment (%) Ratio
‘I experienced strong positive emotions
whilst viewing this’
70 22 3.2
‘This made me think’ 68 21 3.2
‘This stimulated my curiosity’ 67 15 4.5
‘This made a strong impression on my
visual or hearing senses’
64 18 3.6
Agree n = 2,380 sig. < 0.001
Note: Figures for first column were derived by combining responses of ‘Strongly agree’ and ‘Agree’ who
were ‘Likely’ or ‘Very likely’. Figures for second column were derived by combining ‘Strongly disagree’,
‘Disagree’ and ‘Neither’ who were ‘Likely’ or ‘Very likely’.
Table 5 Respondents who are likely to share brand content from Facebook page (all brands)
Of people who agree,
who say they are
likely to share brand
content (%)
Of people who do
not agree, who say
they are likely to share
brand content (%) Ratio
‘I experienced strong positive emotions
while viewing this’
52 12 4.3
‘This made me think’ 49 11 4.5
‘This made a strong impression on my
visual or hearing senses’
46 9 5.1
‘This stimulated my curiosity’ 46 8 5.8
Agree n = 1,672 sig. < 0.001
Note: Figures for first column were derived by combining responses of ‘Strongly agree’ and ‘Agree’ who
were ‘Likely’ or ‘Very likely’. Figures for second column were derived by combining ‘Strongly disagree’,
‘Disagree’ and ‘Neither’ who were ‘Likely’ or ‘Very likely’.
International Journal of Market Research Vol. 55 Issue 3
367
what sorts of emotions they want to stimulate and how they can do this,
and then test how successful they are at achieving it . For example, while
Coca-Cola tends to configure emotions related to joy and childhood
memory (LaTour et al. 2009), many financial brands configure emotions
related to relief, trust and security (Hansen 2007) .
Future actions
Because of stimulation of cognitive attachment due to emotional
experiences, it is reasonable to suggest that experiencing positive emotions
while encountering a brand’s content on Facebook is positively associated
with likelihood to prefer that brand, talk positively about it, and have the
intention of revisiting that content .
Purchase funnel actions
Overall, 69% of people who report experiencing strong positive emotions
while viewing brand content on Facebook also report they are likely to
prefer the brand over its competitors . This compares with only 23% of
people who do not report experiencing these emotions (sig . = <0 .001)
(Table 6) . While we are not claiming a causal relationship, it is conceivable
that having a positive experience with a brand may impact likelihood to
prefer that brand .
Table 6 ‘I experienced strong positive emotions while viewing this’
Of people who agree,
who say they are
likely to prefer the
brand (%)
Of people who do
not agree, who say
they are likely to
prefer the brand (%) Ratio
All Facebook brand pages surveyed 69 23 3.0
Health and beauty 75 29 2.6
Food and drink 71 28 2.5
Retail 70 27 2.6
Media and entertainment 68 19 3.6
Technology and telecoms 65 24 2.7
Finance 53 12 4.4
Agree n = 2,534 sig. < 0.001
Note: Figures for first column were derived by combining responses of ‘Strongly agree’ and ‘Agree’ who
were ‘Likely’ or ‘Very likely’. Figures for second column were derived by combining ‘Strongly disagree’,
‘Disagree’ and ‘Neither’ who were ‘Likely’ or ‘Very likely’.
Conceptualising and evaluating experiences with brands on Facebook
368
The likelihood of people who report experiencing strong positive
emotions to say they are likely to prefer the brand changes across brand
categories . Participants we sent to FMCG and retail category brands’
Facebook content are more likely than participants we sent to considered
category brands’ pages (such as technology, finance, and media and
entertainment brands) to report they prefer those brands over their
competitors (Table 6) . We suggest that brands from considered brand
categories need to consider placing great weight upon cognitive impacts in
order to configure greater likelihood to prefer .
Advocacy
Many brands depend greatly upon advocacy to encourage new enquiries
and sales (Marsden 2006; Keller 2007) . Our study shows that brands can
give Facebook a central role in helping to encourage advocacy . Again, those
who report they are impacted emotionally on a brand’s Facebook page are
most likely to say they are likely to recommend that brand or its products .
This association is greater among participants we sent to health and beauty
brand Facebook pages (Table 7) . Overall, while 64% of participants who
report experiencing strong positive emotions on these brands’ pages also
report they are likely to recommend these brands, only 19% of people who
did not report experiencing positive emotions on these pages say they are
likely to do this (sig . = <0 .001) .
Table 7 ‘I experienced strong positive emotions while viewing this’
Of people who agree,
who say they are
likely to recommend
the brand (%)
Of people who do not
agree, who say they are
likely to recommend
the brand (%) Ratio
All Facebook brand pages surveyed 64 19 3.40
Health and beauty 71 21 3.40
Technology and telecoms 66 22 3.00
Food and drink 65 20 3.25
Retail 62 21 2.95
Media and entertainment 62 19 3.26
Finance 59 14 4.20
Agree n = 1,554 sig. < 0.001
Note: Figures for first column were derived by combining responses of ‘Strongly agree’ and ‘Agree’ who
were ‘Likely’ or ‘Very likely’. Figures for second column were derived by combining ‘Strongly disagree’,
‘Disagree’ and ‘Neither’ who were ‘Likely’ or ‘Very likely’.
International Journal of Market Research Vol. 55 Issue 3
369
The importance of advocacy means brand owners need to target and
continue to engage highly connected and influential people within their
personal communities (Cakim 2006; Marsden 2006) . (See Wellman (1979)
for a discussion of personal communities .) A brand may have 50,000
‘Likes’ on Facebook, but how connected and influential are these people?
To target highly connected and influential people, some of the things
brand owners need to identify are people’s socio-demographics, how many
networks they have in their personal communities, the number of people
with whom they regularly communicate, what they communicate about
and how often they communicate (cf . Chua et al . 2009) .
Brands are able to integrate Facebook into owned spaces (e .g . brands’
own websites) in order to facilitate identifying some of these characteristics
of people . Linking the Facebook Graph API into owned sites makes it
possible for brand owners to garner user data, which they can extend by
employing tracking cookies . Once they have targeted influential people,
brand owners are also able to target their Facebook friends .
The value of a social media action
By looking at the likelihood of people who say they are likely to do social
media actions to also say they are likely to do different purchase funnel
actions, we can obtain a measure of value to attribute to likely social
media actions . Of course, this is not to assert a causal relationship . People
who prefer a brand, for example, may be more likely to do a social media
action than people who do not .
Across all the brands we included in the study, we have found that, on
average, for every 100 people who say they are likely to post a positive
comment on a brand’s Facebook page, 69 of them say they are likely to
prefer that brand over its competitors (Table 8) . This compares with only
22% of people who say they are not likely to post a positive comment but are
nevertheless likely to prefer the brand (sig . = <0 .001) . This is to say, people
who say they are likely to post a positive comment are three times more likely
to say they prefer the brand than people who say they are not likely to post
such a comment . Sixty-nine per cent is our average benchmark, but when we
looked across brands we saw a wide deviation from this mean, from 56%
to 79% . On average, while participants who report they are likely to post
positive comments to health and beauty and retail brands on Facebook are
most likely to say they are likely to prefer those brands over their competitors,
participants who report they are likely to post positive comments on media
and entertainment, and finance brands are least likely to say this .
Conceptualising and evaluating experiences with brands on Facebook
370
Of all participants who say they are not likely to write a positive
comment on a brand’s page, participants who visited finance, and media
and entertainment brands’ Facebook pages are least likely to say they are
likely to prefer those brands over their competitors . Participants who
visited health and beauty, and retail brands but who report they are not
likely to write a positive comment, are most likely to say this . This means
that the value represented by reported likelihood to post positive comments
for the former types of brand is actually higher than for the latter . For the
latter, it matters less that people report they are likely to write positive
comments because a large proportion of people who report they are not
likely to write positive comments are still likely to prefer brands from those
categories . Nevertheless, because an association appears to exist between
people reporting they have positive experiences and them saying they are
likely to post a positive comment and suchlike, this proportion represents
a high number of people who report they are not impacted on these
experiences . By engaging them, brand equity is likely to increase, and it is
conceivable that they will be more likely to post a positive comment, which
is then likely to appear in the news feeds of friends .
Conclusion
This research has demonstrated the following .
Table 8 ‘How likely are you to post a positive comment?’
Of people who say
they are likely to
post a positive
comment, who say
they are likely to
prefer the brand (%)
Of people who say
they are not likely
to post a positive
comment, who say
they are likely to
prefer the brand (%) Ratio
All FB brand pages surveyed 69 22 3.1
Finance 68 14 4.9
Media and entertainment 66 17 3.9
Technology and telecoms 69 21 3.3
Retail 73 25 2.9
Health and beauty 73 29 2.5
Food and drink 70 27 2.6
Likely n = 2,534 sig. < 0.001
Note: Figures for first column were derived by combining responses of ‘Strongly agree’ and ‘Agree’ who
were ‘Likely’ or ‘Very likely’. Figures for second column were derived by combining ‘Strongly disagree’,
‘Disagree’ and ‘Neither’ who were ‘Likely’ or ‘Very likely’.
International Journal of Market Research Vol. 55 Issue 3
371
• People who claim to have positive experiences with a brand’s content
on Facebook pages have a greater likelihood of claiming to be more
likely to do a social media action than people who do not claim to
have such experiences . For example, people who report experiencing
strong positive emotions are 3 .2 times more likely to say they are
likely to post a positive comment and 4 .3 times more likely to say they
are likely to share that content than people who do not claim to have
experienced strong positive emotions .
• People who report having positive experiences with a brand’s content
on Facebook have a greater likelihood of claiming to be more likely
to do a purchase funnel action . For example, people who say they
experience strong positive emotions are 3 .0 times more likely to say
they prefer the brand .
• People who report having positive experiences with a brand’s content
on Facebook are more likely to claim they are likely to do an advocacy
action . People who say they experience strong positive emotions are
3 .4 times more likely to say they are likely to recommend the brand .
In so doing, we have developed two sets of metrics: first, a ‘value of
experience’ metric based on the likelihood of people who claim to have
positive experiences with brands’ Facebook pages to say they are likely to do
a social media action, a purchase funnel action and advocacy action; second,
a ‘value of a fan’ metric, which measures the likelihood of people who report
they are likely to do a social media action to also say they are likely to do a
purchase funnel action and advocacy action . For example, people who claim
they are likely to post a positive comment are 3 .1 times more likely to say they
are likely to prefer the brand, than people who claim they are not likely to .
The results from this paper show that brand owners need to proceed
through three stages in order to take greatest advantage of Facebook . First, a
brand owner needs to set a clear strategy for what he or she wants to achieve
via Facebook . Experiences of a Facebook page that a brand owner wants to
configure in visitors will form part of this . For example, as we have shown,
the types of emotion that a soft drinks brand owner may want to evoke may
be quite different to those of a financial brand owner . Even within these
brand categories, there will be subtle and even significant differences .
Second, the importance of curiosity exemplifies the advantages to a
brand owner of making Facebook integral to a marcomms campaign, for
example by using it to continue an experience started elsewhere, such as
on television, in print or in another place online . Alternatively, Facebook
may be used as a significant resource for configuring curiosity and driving
Conceptualising and evaluating experiences with brands on Facebook
372
enquiry, which a brand owner may then attempt to meet through the
brand’s own website and store visits .
Lastly, by impacting people emotionally with content on a brand’s
Facebook page, a brand owner is likely to increase the chance of a
person forming or increasing an attachment with a brand, and so increase
the likelihood of people revisiting brand content on Facebook and
communicating with it . Vitally, this attachment is likely to also manifest
itself in talk about and recommendations of the brand and its products
both off and online, making careful targeting crucial .
This paper gives a partial response to Brakus et al .’s (2009) call for further
research to examine whether the scale they develop can predict specific
behavioural outcomes . We have uncovered a number of associations between
reported experiences and likely actions . However, further research should be
conducted in order to test such associations that may exist in other media
such as television, print and experiential activities . Doing so will enable
brands to rank the effectiveness of different media at impacting people and
impacting likelihood to do different behaviours that are beneficial to brands .
A caveat throughout this research is that it focuses on claimed data . In
addition, we have stressed we do not claim to have uncovered causation .
Nevertheless, it is conceivable that people’s positive experiences on a brand’s
Facebook page are likely, however small, to positively impact likelihood
to do different actions . Further research should therefore seek to uncover
experiences and actions beyond mere claims, and uncover any causality .
Still further research should be undertaken to examine the effectiveness
of using different media together within the same campaign – to test
the so called ‘media multiplier effect’, in which an exposure to some
elements of a campaign in one medium may increase the impacts of other
elements in another medium from the same campaign . Undertaking this
will quantitatively test the proposition that including social media in
campaigns can increase the effectiveness of those campaigns .
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About the author
Steve Smith is Head of Thought Leadership at Starcom MediaVest Group,
London . His research interests centre on behaviour related to new media
and new technologies, and emerging social trends . He has a PhD in
sociology from the University of Surrey .
Address correspondence to: Steve Smith, Starcom MediaVest Group,
89 Whitfield St, London W1T 4HQ . Telephone 020 7190 8000 .
Email: steve .smith@smvgroup .co .uk
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