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Brand anthropomorphism on Twitter: communication strategies and consumer engagement

Linwan Wu (School of Journalism and Mass Communications, College of Information and Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA)
Naa Amponsah Dodoo (Department of Marketing Communication, Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Chang-Won Choi (School of Journalism and New Media, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, USA)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 3 January 2023

Issue publication date: 26 July 2023




Anthropomorphized brands have been widely used as marketing communication tools to engage consumers on social media, especially on Twitter. Guided by the social exchange theory (SET) and the dialogic theory, this study aims to investigate how anthropomorphized brands leverage different communication strategies on Twitter and how these strategies are related to consumer engagement.


Supervised machine learning was used to identify the communication strategies (i.e. message types and dialogic principles) of 125,887 tweets from 21 brand characters. Some statistical analyses (e.g. frequency analysis, Chi-square analysis and Poisson regression analysis) were performed to explore the relationships between communication strategies and consumer engagement (i.e. retweets and replies).


The majority of anthropomorphized brands’ tweets belonged to the socioemotional category and the most adopted dialogic principles were generation of return visits and conservation of visitors. Consumers engaged more with socioemotional tweets as well as the tweets that adopted the principles of dialogic loop and conservation of visitors. There were clear relationships between message types and dialogic principles in anthropomorphized brands’ tweets, and certain dialogic principles were found to effectively improve consumer engagement with certain message types.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to investigate the communication strategies of anthropomorphized brand characters on Twitter using computational research methods. It not only provides brand managers a systematic review of how current anthropomorphized brands communicate with consumers on Twitter and what strategies work more effectively to trigger consumer engagement but also contributes to theory building in brand management by integrating the SET and the dialogic theory in brand anthropomorphism research.



Wu, L., Dodoo, N.A. and Choi, C.-W. (2023), "Brand anthropomorphism on Twitter: communication strategies and consumer engagement", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 32 No. 6, pp. 799-811.



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