Open Access Article

Title: The relevance of images in user-generated content: a mixed method study of when, and why, major brands retweet

Authors: Kardi Somerfield; Kathleen Mortimer; Geraint Evans

Addresses: Faculty of Business and Law, University of Northampton, Northampton NN2 7AL, UK ' Faculty of Business and Law, University of Northampton, Northampton NN2 7AL, UK ' 62 The Avenue, London, NW6 7NP, UK

Abstract: This paper develops unique new insight for business practitioners and academic researchers into the interaction between consumers and brands on social media platforms, principally where brands choose to interact with, and amplify, user-generated content (UGC) by retweeting it on their own brand channels. Despite increasing research into social media in general, there is a relative lack of available academic research on major brands engaging with consumer content, which may, be in part due to the pace of change and exponential growth in this emerging area. This mixed method study develops insight conducted over an 18-month period with leading social media practitioners, concluding that primarily a brand's social media team opportunistically seek out and retweet organic image-led UGC to convey specific messages across multiple platforms. Content containing imagery lends authenticity to brand storytelling; brands with tangible products are more likely to receive organic UGC which contains images than intangible brands.

Keywords: social media; branded content; community management; user-generated content; UGC; images; engagement; retweet; platform; Twitter; Facebook; Instagram.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2018.095360

International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, 2018 Vol.12 No.4, pp.340 - 357

Available online: 24 Sep 2018 *