How marketers can shape customer sentiment during events

September 12, 2019

Researchers from University of Tennessee, IESEG School of Management, and Georgia State University published a new paper in the Journal of Marketing that investigates the role of firms' customer engagement initiatives in social media and analyzes how firms seek to influence digital sentiment by shaping customers' experiential interactions.

The study, forthcoming in the November issue of the Journal of Marketing, is titled "The Role of Marketer-Generated Content in Customer Engagement Marketing" and is authored by Matthijs Meire, Kelly Hewett, Michel Ballings, V. Kumar, and Dirk Van den Poel.

Marketers of experiential events, such as concerts, sports competitions, and other sponsored events, often post informational or emotional social media to drive engagement or influence customers' perceptions of their event experiences. For example, during an extensive delay before the first-ever concert at the Mercedes Benz stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, performed by Garth Brooks, the venue's management used social media to keep fans informed of efforts to resolve sound issues in the stadium in an attempt to reduce negative sentiment being expressed by attendees about their disappointing experience.

Hewett explains that "Our study attempts to answer these questions: Following a poor performance, can a marketer effectively engage customers and enhance the sentiment of customers' social media contributions based on the firm's own posts, and if so, what should those posts say? After a disappointing experience, should the firm's posts appeal to customers' emotions, such as the concert venue sharing images of a stadium packed with excited fans, or instead offer informational content such as the venue's efforts to address sound quality issues? Similarly, after a positive experience, should the firm post on social media and should the content be emotional, such as images of elated fans, or informational, such as details regarding upcoming events?"

Many firms track buyers' offline interactions with the goal of improving customers' reactions to their experiences. For example, customer contact centers track the speed of response, problem resolution, and wait times. Similarly, firms commonly design online content to coincide with customers' experiences, and face varied performance levels during customer interactions, enabling them to modify social media posts to correspond to those interactions.

Using evidence from a European soccer team's Facebook fan page, the researchers find that, if a firm's performance during customer interactions is held constant, the firm's own social media posts surrounding customers' experiences can influence the sentiment of customers' digital engagement. Informational, more so than emotional, content offers a substantial means to improve customer sentiment in the case of negative interaction event outcomes. For the team used in the study, an increase of roughly four informational posts from the team after a disappointing performance can increase positive sentiment by nearly 20 percent. Such increases in sentiment are shown to be valuable based on their ability to influence customers' purchase behavior.

Based on these findings, firms may also be able to influence customer sentiment surrounding firm or brand-related interactions by using personalized communications post-purchase. For instance, the beauty products chain Sephora sends recommendations and educational content to customers starting immediately after they make a purchase. Such mechanisms for responding to customers in a customized manner may help to further enhance the sentiment of customers' digital engagement and subsequent purchase behaviors.

In cases where purchase frequency is low, regularly tracking customers' digital engagement in social media can provide more frequent opportunities to impact customer sentiment and, ultimately, purchase behavior. Meire emphasizes that "Based on estimates that 40 percent of consumers follow their favorite brands on social media, there appears to be a sizable opportunity for firms to influence the sentiment of digital engagement."

The study's results should encourage firms to develop customer engagement marketing programs that involve customizing social media strategies based on their own performance during customers' interactions. They should post more informational content in social media surrounding poor performances and in general increase the volume of posts when performance is good.
Full article and author contact information available at:

About the Journal of Marketing

The Journal of Marketing develops and disseminates knowledge about real-world marketing questions useful to scholars, educators, managers, policy makers, consumers, and other societal stakeholders around the world. Published by the American Marketing Association since its founding in 1936, JM has played a significant role in shaping the content and boundaries of the marketing discipline. Christine Moorman (T. Austin Finch, Sr. Professor of Business Administration at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University) serves as the current Editor in Chief.

About the American Marketing Association (AMA)

As the largest chapter-based marketing association in the world, the AMA is trusted by marketing and sales professionals to help them discover what's coming next in the industry. The AMA has a community of local chapters in more than 70 cities and 350 college campuses throughout North America. The AMA is home to award-winning content, PCM® professional certification, premiere academic journals, and industry-leading training events and conferences.

American Marketing Association

Related Social Media Articles from Brightsurf:

it's not if, but how people use social media that impacts their well-being
New research from UBC Okanagan indicates what's most important for overall happiness is how a person uses social media.

Social media postings linked to hate crimes
A new paper in the Journal of the European Economic Association, published by Oxford University Press, explores the connection between social media and hate crimes.

How Steak-umm became a social media phenomenon during the pandemic
A new study outlines how a brand of frozen meat products took social media by storm - and what other brands can learn from the phenomenon.

COVID-19: Social media users more likely to believe false information
A new study led by researchers at McGill University finds that people who get their news from social media are more likely to have misperceptions about COVID-19.

Stemming the spread of misinformation on social media
New research reported in the journal Psychological Science finds that priming people to think about accuracy could make them more discerning in what they subsequently share on social media.

Looking for better customer engagement value? Be more strategic on social media
According to a new study from the University of Vaasa and University of Cyprus, the mere use of social media alone does not generate customer value, but rather, the connections and interactions between the firm and its customers -- as well as among customers themselves -- can be used strategically for resource transformation and exchanges between the interacting parties.

Exploring the use of 'stretchable' words in social media
An investigation of Twitter messages reveals new insights and tools for studying how people use stretched words, such as 'duuuuude,' 'heyyyyy,' or 'noooooooo.' Tyler Gray and colleagues at the University of Vermont in Burlington present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on May 27, 2020.

How social media platforms can contribute to dehumanizing people
A recent analysis of discourse on Facebook highlights how social media can be used to dehumanize entire groups of people.

Social media influencers could encourage adolescents to follow social distancing guidelines
Public health bodies should consider incentivizing social media influencers to encourage adolescents to follow social distancing guidelines, say researchers.

Social grooming factors influencing social media civility on COVID-19
A new study analyzing tweets about COVID-19 found that users with larger social networks tend to use fewer uncivil remarks when they have more positive responses from others.

Read More: Social Media News and Social Media Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to