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Message content features and social media engagement: evidence from the media industry

Gillian Moran (School of Business, Maynooth University, Maynooth, Ireland)
Laurent Muzellec (Trinity Centre for Digital Business, University of Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)
Devon Johnson (Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey, USA)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 22 October 2019

Issue publication date: 4 August 2020




This paper aims to uncover the drivers of consumer-brand engagement on Facebook, understood here as users’ behavioral responses in the form of clicks, likes, shares and comments. We highlight which content components, interactivity cues (calls to action [CTA]) and media richness (e.g. video, photo and text) are most effective at inducing consumers to exhibit clicking, liking, commenting and sharing behaviors toward branded content.


This study analyzes 757 Facebook-based brand posts from a media and entertainment brand over a 15-week period. It investigates the relationship between interactive cues and media richness with consumer engagement using a negative binomial model.


Results show positive relationships for both interactivity cues and media richness content components on increasing consumer-brand engagement outcomes. The findings add clarity to previous inconsistent findings in the marketing literature. CTAs enhance all four engagement behaviors. Media richness also strongly influences all engagement behaviors, with visual imagery (photos and videos) attracting the most consumer responses.

Research limitations/implications

The sampled posts pertain to one brand (a radio station) and are thus concentrated within the media/entertainment industry, which limits the generalizability of findings. In addition, the authors limit their focus to Facebook but recognize that findings may differ across more visual or textual social networking sites.

Practical implications

The authors uncover the most effective pairings of media richness and interactivity components to trigger marketer-desired, behavioral responses. For sharing, for example, the authors show that photo-based posts are more effective on average than video-based posts. The authors also show that including an interactive call to act to encourage one type of engagement behavior has a near-universal effect in increasing all engagement behaviors.


This study takes two widely used concepts within the communications and advertising literatures – interactivity cues and media richness – and tests their relationship with engagement using real and actual users’ data available via Facebook Insights. This method is more robust than surveys or wall scrapping, as it mitigates Facebook’s algorithm effect. The results produce more consistent relationships than previous content marketing studies to date.



Moran, G., Muzellec, L. and Johnson, D. (2020), "Message content features and social media engagement: evidence from the media industry", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 29 No. 5, pp. 533-545.



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