How employees engage with B2B brands on social media: Word choice and verbal tone

Christine S. Pitt, Kirk A. Plangger*, Elsamari Botha, Jan Kietzmann, Leyland Pitt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)
624 Downloads (Pure)


Marketing scholars and practitioners are keenly interested in brand engagement in social media because brand engagement has strong links to brand equity. However, much of the marketing literature focuses on customer brand engagement and often in a consumer market setting. This paper advances this literature in two ways by (1) focusing on employees, not customers, as important stakeholders who frequently engage with brands on social media, and by (2) observing brand engagement in a business-to-business context. We develop a conceptual framework based on a theory of word choice and verbal tone to understand the content of engagement observations (i.e., reviews) that breaks into five content dimensions-activity, optimism, certainty, realism, commonality-and four calculated dimensions-insistence, embellishment, variety, and complexity. Then, we examine over 6300 job reviews authored by employees of B2B firms to explore the differences in the way employees engage with both highly-ranked, and -rated brands versus low-ranked and -rated brands. We find that there are significant differences in nearly all the theoretical dimensions, yet the effect sizes are much larger between high versus low review ratings compared to high versus low B2B brand ranking. We close with some important managerial implications and future research directions.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date13 Nov 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Nov 2017


  • B2B brand engagement
  • Employee-based brand equity
  • Review content analysis
  • Social media engagement
  • Word choice and verbal tone


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