Exploring Engagement with Social Media Content
Syrdal, Holly Atwood
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Engagement in the realm of social media is thought to be related to a number of positive brand and organizational outcomes and has emerged as a hot topic among marketing academics and practitioners alike. However, there is currently no consensus on exactly what constitutes this type of engagement. This lack of agreement and, hence, lack of a “social media engagement” measure, have made it difficult for academics to advance theory in this area and for researchers to test hypotheses concerning positive brand and organizational outcomes that may be related to this form of engagement. This dissertation directly addresses this gap in the marketing literature through the construction of a definition of engagement with social media content and the subsequent development of an approach for measuring it. In the first essay, engagement theory is paired with findings from two qualitative studies in which engagement in the context of social media is examined from both the marketer and consumer perspectives. Based on the findings, it is argued that this form of engagement is a psychological state of mind that operates distinctly from social media interactive behaviors such as “liking,” commenting, and sharing. In the second essay, an existing scale is adapted to tap into the level of engagement experienced by consumers exposed to branded social media content. Survey research is utilized to empirically test a conceptual model of the construct and hypothesized drivers and outcomes. The third essay builds on the first two by testing a conceptual model of engagement with social media content in the realm of non-profit marketing using data collected from stakeholders of a charitable organization. The findings of this research offer new insight into consumer consumption of social media content and sow the seeds for future exploration of engagement in this domain.
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