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Exploring the motivation of affect management in fostering social media engagement and related insights for branding

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The purpose of this paper is to present an affect-based perspective to explain levels of social media engagement.


This study uses face-to-face long interviews and online observation of the Facebook profiles of respondents over an eight-month period.


Social media engagement varies depending on a user’s current and desired affective state. When individuals are in a low to moderately aroused negative affective state (such as feeling bored or upset), individuals tend to spend time passively consuming content: the lowest level of engagement. In a low to moderately aroused positive mood state (such as happiness), users both passively consume and actively participate with relevant content by liking and commenting on existing content. When users are in a highly aroused positive affective state, the propensity to create original content is greater, reflecting the highest level of engagement. When users are in a highly aroused negative affective state (such as being angry at a brand), users are motivated to vent on social media to manage the mood. Conversely, when users are in a highly aroused negative affective state related to personal trauma, the avoidance of engagement on social media is evident.

Practical implications

Brands can increase the likelihood of consumers creating positive consumer–brand stories offline and online by priming consumer affect.


This study explores how a desired affective state motivates varying levels of user engagement with different types of content on social media.

Keywords: Affect; Consumer–brand stories; Mood adjustment; Social media engagement

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Sheridan College – Hazel McCallion Campus, Mississauga, Canada 2: Universitat Ramon Llull, ESADE, Barcelona, Spain

Publication date: February 25, 2020

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