Dealer Tweets Effect on Customer Engagement: an Application to the Spanish Context
From the perspective of social media management, there is a dilemma between the adoption of centralized, standardized content generation and the use of general channels for its diffusion vis á vis adopting a decentralization orientation at country level or even a more local level by local distributors accounts. We find a tension between two trends; on the one hand, social media implies co-creation and power-sharing between the firm, distributor and their customers, while practices such as global integrated marketing communications follow precisely the opposite route. The advertising and marketing literature both display a lack of knowledge regarding the role of multiple-type corporate accounts (i.e., main, country, special, or dealer accounts, in the case of the automobile market) on customer engagement.
In this empirical research we focus on various topics relating to firm-dealer-created content (FCC) applied to the automobile sector and Twitter. The aims of the article are twofold: (a) to analyse if there are differences among content generated and sent by distributor accounts and the content sent by corporate or country account of carmakers in terms of their effect on customer engagement; (b) to estimate these effects, controlling for topic, and other tweets characteristics.
For these purposes, we develop an empirical study applied to 14,488 Twitter posts from a set of ten representative global brands from automobile market. We use a Poisson regression model to test the effects of types of sender accounts on the number of retweets. To do this rigorously, we include the following variables: brand, type of sender account (main, country, dealer or special), and time fixed effect (hour, day-of-week, week), as well as taking into account several control variables (topic of tweet, follower, hashtag, length, link, attribute, product, competing for attention, exclusivity window, brand post strategy).
The results suggest that posting tweets from a dealer account has a negative and significant effect on customer engagement with respect to the country account. In the case of tweets that include reference to attributes, use of a dealer account makes the negative affect on customer engagement even deeper. This negative effect is attenuated with tweets focused on topics related to distribution, post-sale service, and product topics.
For settings with topics related with distribution and post sale service, the use of decentralized channels (such as dealer and special accounts) tends to reduce the negative effect on customer engagement. This result could be explained, according to Li et al (2013), by the level of perceived specialization and credibility of the source. These type of topics are better managed (with less ineffectiveness) through a reliable and decentralized sender because of the specific domain of the topics and the expertise of the dealers.