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The depth of brand engagement funnel: dimensionalizing interaction in social media brand communities

George Rossolatos (Department of English and American Studies, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Article publication date: 21 July 2020

Issue publication date: 22 March 2021



This paper aims to contribute to the augmenting literature on consumer brand engagement (CBE) in social media brand communities (SMBCs) by offering the model of the depth of brand engagement funnel (DOBEF). The model is intended to complement the multi-dimensional conceptualization of CBE in the extant consumer behaviour literature and to critically address some of its foundational tenets.


A computer-mediated discourse analytic (CMDA) approach is adopted while using a mixed methods research design whereby qualitative data are quantified with a view to enhancing the robustness of the interpretive procedure. The data comprise 170 UGC posts stemming from three fast-moving consumer goods brands’ SMBC threads. Additionally, a netnographic approach is adopted in data collection, while data analysis/synthesis proceeds with the application of the laddering technique with the aid of the computer-aided qualitative discourse analytic CAQDAS software atlas.ti.


The bulk of user-generated content (UGC) in the scrutinized brand initiated thematic threads were found to be relevant, albeit negatively valenced or lacking in relevance altogether. This behavioural response pattern to brand initiated themes poses significant constraints to the level and quality of CBE. Multi-dimensional engagement across the DOBEF’s strata was found to be scarce, while engagement diminishes gravely as the upper layers of the model are reached.

Research limitations/implications

By conducting analyses on coded data alongside DOBEF’s strata, rather than treating consumer comments as raw data, the narrowing down of the semantic focus of posted comments in a thread-specific fashion is enabled, thus meeting the narrow contextualization criterion that is lacking from various studies in the extant literature.

Practical implications

By shifting focus in identifying CBE levels in SMBCs from attitudinal/behavioural antecedents/outcomes towards the content of the interaction, a nuanced perspective is offered as regards the depth of interaction, while addressing posted comments not only in terms of valencing, but even more importantly of valorization.

Social implications

By attending closely to incidents of negative brand engagement, and by dimensionalizing engagement along the funnel’s strata, a more nuanced understanding of territories where brand communities contribute to the dilution, rather than the enhancement of brand equity was obtained.


This is the first paper that discusses engagement on the grounds of deeply-laden consumer axiologies and the degree to which these are congruent with specific brand initiated thematic threads in SMBCs. It is anticipated that the discourse analytic (DA) approach that is adopted here will instigate further research that attends to UGC in a small-data, highly context-specific, rather than a big-data vein.



Rossolatos, G. (2021), "The depth of brand engagement funnel: dimensionalizing interaction in social media brand communities", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 200-220.



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