A comprehensive operational framework is proposed to explain young consumers’ (i.e. generations Y and Z) engagement with brands on social media sites (SMSs). This paper aims to synthesize two motivational theories: uses and gratifications (U&G) theory and the technology acceptance model (TAM).
A selective literature review was conducted to examine recent publications related to young consumers’ brand-driven engagement behavior on SMSs in which either TAM or U&G theory was applied. A three-stage method was used: an initial search was followed by vertical and horizontal searches and then a targeted search of scholarly publications. At each stage, the university’s library databases and Google Scholar were searched for relevant, mainly peer-reviewed articles, using appropriate filters and keywords. The articles’ references and the studies that cited those articles were added to the initially identified research pool (vertical search), coupled with publications of a similar nature based on keywords (horizontal search). The final stage, the targeted search, involved identifying and adding specific articles (e.g. literature reviews and integrated models).
After a review of a significant number of U&G and TAM studies, similarities and differences of the two theories were identified, and an integrated operational framework was developed. Based on empirical findings of existing U&G and TAM studies, testable propositions were presented.
The proposed hybrid model and the associated propositions provide a research opportunity to empirically examine how young consumers’ motivational (i.e. motivating and demotivating) drivers, normative influence, perceived value and attitudes (toward brand content and engagement) predict intention or actual brand-related behavior on SMSs.
Much of current research indicates that generations Y and Z (“digital natives”) spend considerably more time on SMSs than any of the older generations (“digital immigrants”). Thus, brands that aim to target this cohort need to develop successful engagement strategies (e.g. gamification and influencer marketing) on current and emerging SMSs. The suggested conceptualization provides guidelines for companies to effectively use such communication strategies to motivate young people to engage with their brands on sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
A review of TAM research indicates that it lacks rich motivating/demotivating constructs, and thus borrows from other theories to complement this weakness. An examination of U&G frameworks, particularity Ducoffe (1996)-based models, indicates that these frameworks mainly test engagement with social media advertising but seldom other types of brand-driven engagement on SMSs. In addition, many U&G studies focus less than TAM studies do on outcome variables such as behavioral intentions and behavior. Thus, the authors propose a synthesized U&G and TAM framework that mitigates both theories’ weaknesses and builds on their strengths, enriching the growing research on brand-driven engagement behavior via SMSs.
Florenthal, B. (2019), "Young consumers’ motivational drivers of brand engagement behavior on social media sites: A synthesized U&G and TAM framework", Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 351-391. https://doi.org/10.1108/JRIM-05-2018-0064
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