social media

What science tells us about drivers of engagement, sharing and liking

In 2016 2,22 billion social media users are registered. Every day 500 million tweets are posted, 95 million photos are uploaded to Instagram and 300 hours video are uploaded to YouTube. Sharing, liking and engagement are important goals for marketers to spread their marketing communication brand messages on social media and therefore plays a considerable role in marketer’s creative strategy. In this blog I will discuss recent research articles about drivers of social media sharing, liking, and engagement.

Content factors

The research articles show us that emotional content drives the sharing behavior of social media users, for instance New York Times news articles that induce emotions are more likely to be shared than stories without emotions. Especially news articles with negative emotions (like disgust) are likely to be passed through. Moreover, research reveals that persuasive content (like emotional and philanthropic content) increases engagement while informative content (like prices, availability, and product features) decreases engagement.
The literature also recognizes the use of hashtags and URL’s as driver for sharing. The use of hashtags and URL’s on Twitter are drivers for sharing while the use of links in Facebooks postings reduces the number of comments.
It is acknowledged that characteristics of social media users affect the sharing of social media content. According to the research literature users often share content on social media in an effort to manage their image or personal brand. In other words, it suggests that people share content that is consistent with the user’s desired image.
Finally, executional factors can drive the liking of content. An analysis of 8 million Instagram photos revealed that the following images generate higher levels of likes:
-light images (compared to dark images);
-duck face selfies (compared to realistic selfies);
-low saturation (the amount of grey) (compared to vibrant colors);
-single dominant colors (compared to multiple colors).

Social influence and creator related features

Most marketers know social influencers can play an important role in the marketing strategy and some users of social media are more influential than others. Scientific literature shows us that influencers can stimulate adoption among other users. Hence, purchase intention of influencers can affect the purchase intention of others due to social comparison. People may compare their own possessions to those of influencer, because of influencer’s status or personal traits. Also, the number of both followers and followees affects positively the sharing behavior. Furthermore, seeding strategies directed at influencers are more efficient than strategies directed on high volumes of individuals. Finally, the experience and age can affect the effectivity of influencers. There is evidence that posts on online communities are less likely to get reply if newcomers write them.

 Fit between content and user

Various groups of people can be identified on social media; populations which tend to discuss one topic and populations which tend to discuss various topics. Especially in a population where one topic is discussed, adapting the content user is an effective way to stimulate sharing.


The drivers for sharing, liking and engagement are displayed in figure on the left. The discussed literature suggests that content factors, user factors and the fit between content may affect the sharing, liking and engaging your audiences. Please check out the references below for more detailed research insights!


Charles Vaneker

Senior Research & media Consultant



Brandwatch. (2017). Marketing: 105 amazing social media statistics and facts

Jaakonmäki, R., Müller, O., & Vom Brocke, J. (2017). The impact of content, context, and creator on user engagement in social media marketing. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii.

Zhang, Y., Moe, W. W., & Schweidel, D. A. (2017). Modeling the role of message content and influencers in social media rebroadcasting. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 34(1), 100-119. doi:

Posted by Klapper  |  0 Comment  |  in Instagram, marketing strategy, onderzoek, social media, user generated content

Will television survive the competition?

Gary Carter – former COO of Fremantle media – pointed out at the MPJC congress in 2012 that successful television formats travel in as many countries as possible. But with the arrival of social media as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube this is no longer the case.

Today format producers can monetize video productions in different ways. Amazon Video Direct – launched in May 2016 – offers producers a 55% share in advertisement revenues and YouTube offers a 68% share. A video as Gangam Style distributed by YouTube and reaching a billion views in 2013, yielded almost 8 million dollars of revenue.

It is one of the main reasons why traditional TV networks all around the world invest in the their own online distribution platforms or platforms as YouTube. This year Rupert’s Murdoch 21st Century FOX and Sky invested 15 million dollar in its own online streaming service FuboTV. A subscription to the service costs 10 US dollars per month, and the service offers different sport channels, series, documentaries in Portuguese, Spanish and English. A major player in the Dutch market RTL Nederland now provides a MCN, distributing Dutch spoken web series, celebrity video content and regular TV-content. The company also owns a majority stake in the MCNs Divimove and Stylehaul. The digital strategy of the organization is aimed at creating reach, content production and distribution of content.

Especially traditional TV-networks can’t hang back due to severe competition from different new media companies. On the one hand because a large international player as Netflix globalizes and distributes films and series in more than 130 territories including the major Asian markets as China, India and Korea. According to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings – keynote speaker at the Consumer Technology Assocation (2016) – this will continue in the coming years. On the other hand Netflix is also investing in the production of local fiction and non-fiction as series like Crown (UK), Marseille (France) and Suburra (Italy).

But also private video platforms like the Dutch Makers Channel (beauty, comedy and cooking etc.) and Belgiam WeZooZ (animal, recipes, mobility etc.) compete with traditional TV networks by producing their own content. And we not even mentioned important global players as YouTube and Apple Music, that produce their own web series. This year Apple Music (March) launched the Score, a docu series that explores local music scenes around the world like a new hip-hop style originating from the Ojibwa tribe living in the Minnesota’s Red Lake reservation. And Apple Music announced the launch of a six-episode drama – Vital Signs – produced by none other than Dr. Dre.

Even branded video channels of Burberry challenge traditional TV networks by debuting on Apple TV. The channel spotlights its fashion collections and offers beauty tutorials from make-up artist Wendy Rowe and shows original movies from Burberry’s Acoustic musicians.

The result of the emergence of new video platforms is that even the licensing of video formats is no longer the exclusive domain of traditional TV networks, producers and distributors. The American Fine Brothers Entertainment – owner of the famous YouTube REACT channel – started licensing various shows to other video channels. Shows included are the video formats Kids React, Teens React, Elders React, Adults React, React Gaming, Do They Know It, People Vs. Food, Lyric Breakdown, Try Not to Smile or Laugh, Opinions and People Vs Technology videos. The most well known format is ‘React format’. In Kids React one can see reactions of kids to a video game viewed at the Mine Cart channel, followed by clips of children reacting to questions as why they are watching or not watching the Mine Cart channel. The adult version of the ‘React format’ shows adults reacting to performances of the famous singer Prince.

But are traditional TV networks no longer suited to monetize on TV formats? Perhaps it is not so bad at all, because many video platforms like to bring their video formats to television. In 2015 the US video platform Vice announced to produce 37 news specials for the American pay channel HBO and the Dutch MCN Social 1nfluencers distributes its content of well known vloggers (the video format Nice friends/ Fijne Vrienden) at the lineair SBS channel Veronica and the SBS’s internet channel

Probably traditional TV networks can limit the damage of diminishing revenues by following a multi screen digital strategy.

Charles Vaneker

Senior Research and Media Consultant


Posted by Klapper  |  0 Comment  |  in Amazon Video Direct, Crown, Divimove, FuboTV, Makers Channel, Marseille, Netflix, React Channel, RTL MCN, RTL Nederland, SBS, social media, Stylehaul, Suburra, Vice.

Traditional television networks: from instinct to content marketing

Big data is trending topic in the world of digital media. A search on the internet yields almost 700 million hits. So something must be going. Many media conferences have been devoted to the subject. Recently the Immovator conference in Hilversum The Netherlands – at April 23th 2015 – presented 7 cases about big data and media. But in fact most of the cases dealt with small data.
The reason for the confusion is the different interpretation of the big data concept. Technical bloggers like Andrew Brust (2012)mostly point out that big data is “all about the technologies and practice of handling data sets so large that conventional database management systems cannot handle them efficiently, and sometimes cannot handle them at all.”

But this is not what big data in the media context is about. In the media context big data can better be approached as digital trails which are left behind by all types of users at social media like Twitter and Facebook, streaming media sites as Youtube, Multi Channel Networks, Netflix, RTL-XL and digital media boxes (Green,2015). So it is about scalable systems of unstructured data with accompanied tools that can pull structured data (Konkel,2013) and can be used for predictive analyses on media behavior. The cases presented at the conference were examples of new developed tools/methods for analyzing different (combinations of) digital trails of media user data.

The Immovator conference offered insights about the change in strategy of traditional broadcast networks in The Netherlands.
First of all the content strategy is becoming data driven. It means that tv-format creation will no longer be based on instinct but on media trail data. RTL Nederland showed that content intelligence will be part of the future content strategy of the network. The data of the different streaming video platforms like RTL-XL, RTL Multi Channel Network and NL ziet will be used for new predictive analysis. The data can help the television eco system to derive their next hit, like the decision of Netflix to commission the production of the House of Cards format. Analysis of the Netflix platform data showed a large potential viewers interested in Kevin Spacey, David Fincher and BBC political drama. So Netflix commissioned the production the House of Cards series to Beau Willimon.
The data of the streaming platforms can also provide information about actors (image recognition data), narratives (subtitling data) and themes which drive viewing behavior and could influence the future production of tv-formats and decisions for the purchase of foreign fiction and non-fiction.

Second, media trail data will play a more important role in the promotion of program related content. Dutch pubcaster BNN/VARA analyses the online platform data to match the posting of content by the editors with the user activity on the social media platform. The graph shows discrepancy in time slot between supply and demand of social media content (format De Wereld Draait Door). The social media content is provided far before the user activity on the social media.
The conclusion is that traditional broadcasters are adapting the content strategy of many Video content channels like Netflix and Youtube and use data for decisions about production, creation, promotion and buying of content. It’s the first step from instinct to content marketing.

Charles Vaneker

Brandon, J. (2014). How ‘Big Data’ could help TV networks make better shows. Retrieved 30-04-2015, from
Brust, A. (2012). Big Data: Defining its definition. Retrieved 30-04-2014, 2012, from
Green, A. (2015). Big data and audience measurement. Retrieved 30-04-2015, 2015
Hawkins, S. (2015). 4 Ways Big Data will impact television and film. In Mediasilo. Vol. 2015.
Konkel, F. (2013). Defining Big Data. Retrieved 30-04-2015, 2015, from
Mandese, J. (2014). From the ‘Big 3’ To ‘Big Data:’ TV audience targeting comes of age. Retrieved 30-04-2015, 2015, from

Posted by Klapper  |  1 Comment  |  in Big data, BNN, content marketing, Multi Channel Network, NL Ziet, RTL Nederland, RTL-XL, social media, television networks, VARA
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