This research utilizes big data in investigating the impact of a luxury brand's social media marketing activities on customer engagement. In particular, applying the dual perspective of customer engagement, this research examines the influence of focusing on the entertainment, interaction, trendiness, and customization dimensions of a luxury brand's social media activities on customer engagement with brand-related social media content. Using big data retrieved from a 60-month period on Twitter (July 2012 to June 2017), this paper analyzes 3.78 million tweets from the top 15 luxury brands with the highest number of Twitter followers. The results indicate that focusing on the entertainment, interaction, and trendiness dimensions of a luxury brand's social media marketing efforts significantly increases customer engagement, while focusing on the customization dimension does not. The findings have important implications for the design, delivery, and management of social media marketing for luxury brands to engage customers with social media content.
The proliferation of social media has changed the way luxury brands interact with their customers, posing new challenges as well as opportunities to luxury brands (Kim & Ko, 2012). The compatibility between luxury brands and mass-media platforms (e.g., social media) has traditionally been questioned due to the brands' needs to manage uniqueness and exclusivity and to develop one-to-one relationships with selected customers (Heine & Berghaus, 2014; Okonkwo, 2009; Quach & Thaichon, 2017). However, over the last decade, luxury brands have increasingly adopted social media (Kim & Ko, 2010, 2012), realizing its “powerful” potential to connect with consumers (Koivisto and Mattila, 2018, p. 1). Therefore, it is vital to understand how luxury brands can “utilize their social media to engage and influence consumers through targeted use of social media” (Dauriz, Remy, & Sandri, 2014, p. 27). Today, big data is available from both firm and consumer activities, making it possible to investigate firm-consumer interactions in social media (Kunz et al., 2017). Luxury brand managers may benefit from utilizing big data to obtain more accurate understanding of customer engagement on social media and consequently formulate more effective customer engagement strategies. Previous studies have investigated the relationship between luxury brands' social media marketing efforts and customer engagement. However, these studies suffer from inconsistency between the conceptualization and operationalization of the customer engagement construct. For example, whereas Dhaoui (2014) and Pentina, Guilloux, and Micu (2018) conceptualized customer engagement as a multi-dimensional construct composed of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects, they measured only behavioral engagement due to the limited ability to capture the cognitive and emotional facets of customer engagement in social media. Moreover, most of the studies that focused on the behavioral aspect of customer engagement measured customers' behavioral intentions instead of their actual behaviors (e.g., Jahn, Kunz, & Meyer, 2012; Jin, 2012). Furthermore, extant research investigated only a few luxury brands using a survey, in-depth interview, or case study approach as well as using cross-sectional data (e.g., Hughes, Bendoni, & Pehlivan, 2016; Jin, 2012; Ng, 2014; Phan, Thomas, & Heine, 2011), making it difficult to generalize the findings to a wider set of luxury brands. In this vein, luxury marketing still lacks comprehensive guidance for the effective management of customer engagement using social media.