Brands with personalities – good for businesses, but bad for public health? A content analysis of how food and beverage brands personify themselves on Twitter

Tenay Greene, Carla Seet, Andrea Rodríguez Barrio, Dana McIntyre, Bridget Kelly, Marie A. Bragg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To examine the extent to which food and beverage brands exhibit personalities on Twitter, quantify Twitter users’ engagement with posts displaying personality features, and quantify advertising spending across these brands on Twitter. Design: We identified 100 tweets from 10 food and beverage brands that displayed “personality,” and 100 “control” tweets (i.e., a post by that brand on the same day). Our codebook quantified the following personification strategies: 1) humor; 2) trendy language; and 3) absence of food product mentions. We used media articles to quantify other personification strategies: 4) referencing trending topics; 5) referencing current events; 6) referencing internet memes; and 7) targeting niche audiences. We calculated the brands’ number of tweets, re-tweets, “likes,” and comments and report the relationship between advertising spending and retweets per follower. Setting: Twitter posts. Participants: 10 food and beverage brands that were described in media articles (e.g., Forbes) as having distinct personalities. Results: Personality tweets earned 123,013 retweets, 732,076 “likes,” and 14,806 comments whereas control tweets earned 61,044 retweets, 256,105 “likes,” and 14,572 comments. The strategies used most included: humor (n=81), trendy language (n=80), and trending topics (n=47). The three brands that spent the most on advertising had similar or fewer retweets per follower than the four that spent relatively little on advertising. Conclusions: Some food and beverage brands have distinct “personalities” on Twitter that generate millions of “likes” and retweets. Some retweets have an inverse relationship with advertising spending, suggesting “personalities” may be a uniquely powerful advertising tool for targeting young adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Branding
  • Food marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Twitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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