Posts that align with organisational values are most successful

By our News Team | 2023

Social media posts that align best with the image and values the public associates with a brand are likely to be the most shared – study.

A new study by Italian researchers investigates what can drive followers to share promotional content posted by brands on social media, and sheds light on what can influence the likelihood that a post will go viral.

Their key finding is that the most effective posts are those that align best with the image and values the public associates with the brand.

Social Media Strategy

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For example, companies, will often try to tie their content to popular online themes – such as celebrities, trending topics and ‘feel-good’ favourites like puppies – in an effort to go viral. 

But this strategy is likely to fail if the themes often do not match the brand’s story and positioning. Instead, it will dilute the brand.

An article based on the study appears in the peer-reviewed Journal of Interactive Marketing and is authored by Sara Valentini of the Bocconi University in Milan, and co-written with Elisa Montaguti of the University of Bologna and Federica Vecchioni, Data Scientist at global creative technology company Reply.

The authors conducted three different empirical studies aimed at testing to what extent the relationship of posts with brand values, and the presence of promotions within the posts, are important for rebroadcasting.

In the first study, they monitored and analysed one year of social media posts by four major brands. 

Study authors tweaked the content of experimental posts

The second study was a field test conducted in cooperation with Samsung Italy. In this case, the company allowed the authors to tweak the content of experimental posts on their own pages, precisely for the purpose of collecting relevant data for this research.

Both studies showed that consistency between online content and the values that followers associate with the brand has a positive effect on rebroadcasting frequency. Consequently, companies should be careful about using social media strategies that include elements unrelated to their image, as this may pose a risk of losing the attention of their fans.

Most interestingly, consistency with brand identity can generate a high number of shares – even for posts containing price promotions, which online followers of a brand are often reluctant to share.

A third experiment, conducted using a panel of respondents provided by a market research firm, showed that the strongest driver for sharing a post with consistent promotional content is altruism. 

If people assume that a certain piece of content will be useful to their acquaintances, they will pass it around. Conversely, if a user feels manipulated, he or she will tend to do the opposite of what is desired, with an attitude known in cognitive psychology as ‘reactance’.

“Our results suggest that posts consistent with brand values are less likely to trigger reactance. Therefore, companies that post online content on their pages must maintain a delicate balance to attract the interest of their audience. while avoiding elements that are not in line with the brand image,” Valentini explains.

You can find out more about the study, entitled ‘Content That Engages Your Customers: The Role of Brand Congruity and Promotions in Social Media’ here.