Purpose: Grounded in uses and gratifications (U&G) theory and relying on the congruence/incongruence approaches, the current research aims to contribute to the study of interactive marketing by measuring the effectiveness of social and personal sponsored post message appeals on consumer psychological and behavioral engagement. A conceptual framework is suggested. Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected during a field experiment conducted on Facebook, consisting of two sponsored Facebook post campaigns, followed by a survey distributed to consumers who were exposed to the experiment. Findings: A structural path model suggests that the congruence of the social message appeal of sponsored Facebook posts leads directly to psychological engagement that follows affective response. This path elevates an indirect effect toward behavioral engagement. Additionally, it was found that the incongruence of the personal message appeal of sponsored Facebook posts leads directly to behavioral engagement. Originality/value: The novelty of the current research focuses on the unexplored subject of sponsored Facebook post message appeal effectiveness. Based on U&G theory applied to social media and the (in)congruence approaches, the study suggests a new dichotomy of message appeal for digital advertising, i.e. social vs. personal message strategies. Consumer engagement with the two appeals adds value to theory and practice by conceptualizing the effect of sponsored post content strategies on consumer engagement in Facebook while incorporating ad content with a hierarchical process.
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