Anthropomorphism and Brands: Does social media interaction work?

4 mins read

From research conducted, it has been shown that customer engagement, loyalty and expenses spent on a brand significantly increase with friendly social media management from the brands’ end.

Developing a Brand Personality

In August 2012, professors at the University of South Carolina explored brand-customer relationships. In this research, they meant to find out answers to 4 main questions:

  1. Does social media affect consumers’ emotional attachment to the brand?
  2. Do these interactions humanise the brands?
  3. Does humanisation increase the quality of the brand-consumer relationship? and,
  4. Does the stronger relationship; obtained only through social media; amplify the brand outcomes like satisfaction?

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An Interesting Finding…

Professors who conducted this research noticed that these influences made a difference in a brand-consumer relationship:

  • Engaging

Brands should often adopt communication styles that open a 2-way path for communication instead of becoming passive notice. This motivation stands a chance of engaging customers and hooking them to the brand.

  • Emotionally-driven

Using social media solely for advertising can come across as dull and uninteresting. Regularly incorporating emotions as a carrier within the interactions creates an emotional attachment.

  • Humanising

Humanising a brand would mean giving it a personality of its own. This strips away the mask of devious corporations in the eyes of consumers and makes them more benign.

  • Result-oriented

Since brands are aware that not every post will be winning an audience, some of what they put out isn’t focused on advertising either. Some posts are made to increasingly shift the focus towards strengthening the bond between customer-brand which will impact the brand-building behaviours.

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The results of the findings

In the experiments, the sample size was divided into 2: social media users and non-social media users depending on their interactions with the brands on their favourite social media site in the past month. Comparing social media users as compared to non-social media users this is what they found out:

  • Higher emotional attachment to the brands in social media users
  • Social media usage affected the way brands were viewed. Higher social media usage was linked with more anthropomorphism.
  • A higher emotional attachment also had a link in viewing the brand’s anthropomorphic behaviour.
  • Brand relationship quality in the case of higher social media usage was better.
  • Also, brand relationship quality in cases of higher emotional attachment or in an amplified view of anthropomorphic behaviour was better.

This research was limited only to 3 countries: France, US and UK and the findings did lead to the positive end of agreement of all the questions mentioned above.

Social media interaction with brands did build a higher emotional attachment and associated them with human-like characteristics. This established a higher brand relationship and led to consumers being more satisfied and more inclined to recommend, spend a higher share of their income and stay loyal to the brand.

The detailed report can be found under the name “The Effect of Social Media on Brand-Customer Relationship” done by Simon Hudson, Martin S. Roth and Thomas J. Madden.

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The Consequent Steps

The above-mentioned findings have found their way to the brands. As the Harris Poll found out in 2020,

  • 91% of executives expected their company to invest 50% or more in social media marketing in the next 3 years
  • 85% of executives found social media to be or become a primary business intelligence source
  • 78% of consumers, as executives reported, were more willing to buy from a brand after a positive experience from one brand over the other on social media

A short answer to the question posed: Yes, it would be beneficial to invest in a good social media manager for your account.

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