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The paper aims to examine how employees influence their employer’s brand by applying Taylor’s (1999) six segment message strategy wheel in an employee influencer context.Design/methodology/approachThe research uses a content analysis of employees’ public social media posts – including captions and images – to analyze the message strategies employees use to promote their employers.FindingsWhile ego and social were popular message strategies in both the images and captions, the findings evidence the varying message strategies employees use in text-based versus image-based messages. Four “imagined audiences” of employee influencers are identified: current customers, prospective customers, current employees and prospective employees.Research limitations/implicationsThe research provides insight into how employees act as influencers in building their employer brand on social media.Practical implicationsA unique measurement tool is developed that can be used by companies and future researchers to decode employees’ online communications.Originality/valueThis research contributes to theory and practice in the following important ways. First, the research provides a modernization of an existing framework from an offline setting to an applied industry context in an online setting. Second, this research focuses on a subtype of social media influencer, the employee influencer, which is an underdeveloped area of research. Third, a unique measurement tool to analyze text-based and image-based social media data is developed that can be used by companies and future researchers to decode employees’ online communications.
European Journal of Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 4, 2023
Keywords: Employer brand; Internal branding; Employee influencers; Message strategy; Social media influencers; Imagined audience
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