Perfect social media image posts: symmetry and contrast influence consumer response

Kostyk, A. and Huhmann, B. A. (2021) Perfect social media image posts: symmetry and contrast influence consumer response. European Journal of Marketing, 55(6), pp. 1747-1779. (doi: 10.1108/EJM-09-2018-0629)

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Purpose: Two studies investigate how different structural properties of images – symmetry (vertical and horizontal) and image contrast – affect social media marketing outcomes of consumer liking and engagement. Design/methodology/approach: In Study 1’s experiment, 361 participants responded to social media marketing images that varied in vertical or horizontal symmetry and level of image contrast. Study 2 analyzes field data on 610 Instagram posts. Findings: Study 1 demonstrates that vertical or horizontal symmetry and high image contrast increase consumer liking of social media marketing images, and that processing fluency and aesthetic response mediate these relationships. Study 2 reveals that symmetry and high image contrast improve consumer engagement on social media (number of “likes” and comments). Research limitations/implications: These studies extend theory regarding processing fluency’s and aesthetic response’s roles in consumer outcomes within social media marketing. Image posts’ structural properties affect processing fluency and aesthetic response without altering brand information or advertising content. Practical implications: Because consumer liking of marketing communications (e.g. social media posts) predicts persuasion and sales, results should help marketers design more effective posts and achieve brand-building and behavioral objectives. Based on the results, marketers are urged to consider the processing fluency and aesthetic response associated with any image developed for social media marketing. Originality/value: Addressing the lack of empirical investigations in the existing literature, the reported studies demonstrate that effects of symmetry and image contrast in generating liking are driven by processing fluency and aesthetic response. Additionally, these studies establish novel effects of images’ structural properties on consumer engagement with brand-based social media marketing communications.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kostyk, Dr Alena
Authors: Kostyk, A., and Huhmann, B. A.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:European Journal of Marketing
ISSN (Online):1758-7123
Published Online:04 February 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 Emerald Publishing Limited
First Published:First published in European Journal of Marketing 55(6: 1747-1779
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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