Phatic Brand Communication on Social Media

  • Author / Creator
    Koo, Thomas K.B.
  • This research introduces the concept of phatic brand communication to marketing, and examines its use in the context of social media. The main function of phatic brand communication is for brands to create an atmosphere of sociability with consumers (e.g., “Hey YOU. Have a great day.”) rather than to convey substantive information. First, a typology of phatic language is developed, which integrates and expands the current conceptualization of what “phatic” means in diverse disciplines. This typology organizes phatic language into phatic content (i.e., “what” is being communicated) and phatic style (i.e., “how” it is communicated). Next, a comprehensive framework of phatic brand communication is presented. In this framework, brands produce messages using phatic language, and consumers interpret them and perceive phaticity, which leads to behavioural and psychological marketing outcomes. Various moderating factors are considered, and propositions are forwarded. Next, in an empirical study, a Twitter dataset is used to test the proposed typology and the framework. The dataset of brand Tweets confirms the presence of the typology of phatic language. This study provides support for the framework by showing positive relationships between phatic language and perceived phaticity, and between perceived phaticity and consumer engagement in terms of likes, replies, and retweets. The study also highlights a moderating factor, where the presence of transactional content in the message negatively influences the positive relationship between perceived phaticity and engagement. Next, a series of laboratory experiments demonstrate that (a) excessive phatic language can backfire; (b) the order of phatic and transactional components affects behavioural intentions and attitudes; and (c) a message with only transactional content can have more positive marketing outcomes by including phatic content, regardless of the types of transactional content.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.