Facebook Users Interact with Brands that Reflect Their Ideal Selves

If you've ever felt motivated to like your favorite clothing store or coffee shop on Facebook, it may be about much more than a positive shopping experience. 

A University of Minnesota study recently reported that users are much more likely to interact online with brands that represent their ideal selves.

There is a strong link between social and self motivation and brand engagement.

The study, which surveyed 223 undergraduate students at the University of Minnesota, set out to identify self and social motivations for engaging with brands on Facebook. The results suggested that  ideal self congruence - the similarity between one’s aspirational self image and a brand’s personality - is a major impetus in brand interaction. Brands that capture the essence of those characteristics

Other factors, like actual self congruence - your realistic self image - and self expression also resulted in high levels of engagement. On the other hand, social, or external, motivations like social identity - group membership - also favored high engagement.
Brands represent much more than just the clothes we wear, the phones we use and the food we eat. They are symbols that contain their own personalities that can be recognized across the globe. In an annual ranking by strategic consultancy, Brand Finance, the top ten most powerful brands based on factors like familiarity, loyalty, and promotion. Essentially the most recognizable brands on the planet, including Nike, Google, and Coca Cola.

For consumers, brands like these reaffirm values and ideologies. Users may choose Coca Cola over Pepsi because their marketing strategy appeals more to their personality. According to a 2014 Elon University study, ”[Brands] may also be used to display consumers’ knowledge of culture, taste or style, exhibit income or wealth or communicate membership to particular social or professional groups.”  

The same study showed that individuals with strong ties to social groups had significant brand preferences.The brands serve as visible markers group membership - like how luxury cars are status symbols that show off wealth or name brand clothing can amplify one’s popularity in certain social settings.

Interacting with Brands on Facebook allows users to advertise their culture, values, and identity to a digital network of peers, study says.

The University of Minnesota study sought to find the link between these motivations to interact with brands and social media engagement.

The participating students first answered questions measuring Facebook usage, and general habits related to self expression, brand engagement, social identity. They then identified three out of 11 brands randomly selected from Interbrand’s 100 Best Global Brands of 2014, an annual list of the world’s most financially productive companies including McDonalds, Microsoft, H&M and many more. Finally, participants evaluated their familiarity and willingness to engage with with the brand online.  

When users interact with brands on Facebook, where their current and potential friends and family can monitor their every move, a simple :like” becomes an expression of personality, values and social groupings.

Facebook marketing techniques that appeals to personality and self image likely to increase engagement and company profit

When users interact with brands on Facebook, where their current and potential friends and family can monitor their every move, a simple "like” becomes an expression of personality, values and social groupings.

Nearly 65% of American adults use social media and with the increase of digital commerce and the rise of social media, companies are developing targeted social media strategies to reach potential customers. Among social media platforms, Facebook has the highest number of daily active users more than Twitter and it's where 34% of consumers go to search for a brand or a business they need. In December 2015, there were more than 50 million businesses registered on Facebook with over 2.5 billion comments and engagements per month.

A 2015 study by Syncapse social media marketing firm that analyzed Facebook users product spending and brand loyalty estimated that a “like” from a customer is worth $174 for a brand. In today's digital landscape, a brands marketing success on Facebook and other social media sites is imperative to profit and revenue.

In order to attract and accommodate business online, Facebook has added messaging features and digital media capabilities to help businesses increase engagement. While helpful, the study suggests the best way to increase engagement and ultimately revenue is to continue to make social media content that appeals to individual personalities and consumer self image. Brands utilizing creative personal appeals in native advertisements, video posts and visual campaigns are likely to see an increase in profit.

Each year Facebook recognizes brands and companies developing innovative and successful marketing campaigns on their platform. This year winners include a Beats By Dre campaign for the movie "Straight Outta Compton" that allowed users to customize the "Straight Outta Compton" logo with the name of their own city.

The video description of the campaign stated:

"The movie was a statement of hometown pride: we’re all straight outta somewhere. Based on this, we developed a simple way for people to celebrate that pride and share it with others, like a badge of honor. This integrated campaign would celebrate every city in the world. Our audience? Anyone who wanted to show pride."

The campaign became a trending topic on Facebook in less than 24 hours. With the help of celebrity participation and Facebook integration and sharing features, the app received over 11.7 million visits and 10 million shares on social media, essentially "advertising created and shared organically by the users on [the company's] behalf."

The campaign was a great example of successful appeals to self congruence and self expression as consumers were able to place themselves in the image of their iconic rap group NWA - known for their epic swagger and rebellious rise to fame in the 1990s - but craft it around their own personal identity. If you love hip hop, NWA, or just crave being apart of the trending topic, you couldn't resist participation. Following this model, brands in the digital age will be able to capture consumers loyalty and spending by becoming an integral part of their own persona.


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