What is it about?

Social media marketers increasingly employ persuasive tactics, with advertising tone (i.e., highlighting favorable product aspects) and calls to action (i.e., encouraging specific actions) being most prevalent. Prior research proposes that both tactics could be perceived as overly pushy and therefore might harm customer engagement. Drawing on a field study employing a unique panel data set at the customer level as well as an experiment, this article suggests that employing advertising tone may reduce customer engagement, which is accelerated when it is used together with calls to action. However, high communal-brand connection (i.e., customer’s connectedness with the brand community) mitigates this negative effect. While weakly connected customers punish the marketer by engaging less, for strongly connected customers the negative interplay of the two tactics vanishes, alleviating undesirable consequences for engagement.

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Why is it important?

How do social media users react when marketers inform them about positive brand attributes or simply encourage them to click on a link? A study published in the Journal for the Association of Consumer Research suggests that such seemingly harmless techniques can severely backfire. In social media, many consumers deem it inexcusable when marketers just play their traditional role as advertisers instead of socializing with them. Particularly when marketers enhance brand posts with advertising tone (featuring favorable aspects of the brand or product) and calls to action (soliciting brand-related behavior like engaging or purchasing) at the same time. Most importantly, social media users punish marketers for employing such “twin tactics” of persuasion by engaging less with the brand in social media. Interestingly, social media users who feel connected to a social media brand community do not perceive such tactics as lapses in firm behavior. That is, for consumers who have forged strong connections with the brand and fellow brand community members, the negative interplay of the two tactics vanishes, alleviating undesirable consequences for the brand.


We find that, on its own, advertising-like content may damage engagement (counter to marketers’ expectations) while calls to action may enhance engagement (in line with marketers’ expectations). Consequently, the research findings partially contrast with current social media practices and has the potential to improve marketers’ management of social media brand communities.

Dr Maik Hammerschmidt
Georg-August-Universitat Gottingen

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Don’t You Dare Push Me: How Persuasive Social Media Tactics Shape Customer Engagement, Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, July 2018, University of Chicago Press, DOI: 10.1086/698713.
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