Social media engagement theory

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Alternate name(s)


Main dependent construct(s)/factor(s)

Frequency of social media use

Main independent construct(s)/factor(s)

Personalization, Access to social resources, Critical mass, Risk, Transparency, Completeness, Flexibility, Evolvability, Integration

Concise description of theory

SME theory draws from the idea that social media acts as a transparent means of communication among users who are temporally and geographically separated. The central premise of the theory is that higher user engagement leads to greater usage of social media platforms. The greater usage of the social media platforms leads to co-creation of value by its users. The individual involvement and personal meaning are identified as important psychological components of user engagement.

The level of social interactions among users and technical features of the platform creates user experience which determines the level of user engagement. The social interactions can be captured using different dimensions like personalization, social accessibility, critical mass, perceived risk and transparency. The technical features can be captured by completeness, flexibility, evolvability and integration. The theory hypothesizes that all dimensions except perceived risk positively influences user engagement.

The practical significance of this theory can be realized by considering the example of Facebook. It has been tremendously successful due to its ability to provide users with access to information at any level of specificity while introducing new features and experiences. It allows third-party developers to create applications to introduce new opportunities for users. These actions of Facebook, introduce new ways in which users can become actively involved in Facebook rather than passive users.

Diagram/schematic of theory

Social media engagement theory

Originating author(s)

Di Gangi P.M and Wasko M.M

Seminal article(s)

Di Gangi, P. M., & Wasko, M. M. (2016). Social Media Engagement Theory: Exploring the Influence of User Engagement on Social Media Usage. Journal of Organizational and End User Computing (JOEUC), 28(2), 53-73.

Originating area

Information systems

Level of analysis


Links from this theory to other theories

Co-creation theory

IS articles that use the theory

Chun, Heuiju & Leem, Byung-Hak & Suh, Hyesun. (2021). Using text analytics to measure an effect of topics and sentiments on social-media engagement: Focusing on Facebook fan page of Toyota. International Journal of Engineering Business Management. 13. 184797902110162.10.1177/18479790211016268.

Law, Richard & Kanagasingam, Shalini & Choong, Kartina. (2021). Sensationalist social media usage by doctors and dentists during Covid-19. DIGITAL HEALTH. 7. 205520762110280.10.1177/20552076211028034.

Puspitasari, Ira & Mohd Fauzi, Shukor Sanim & Ho, Cheng-Yuan. (2021). Factors Driving Users’ Engagement in Patient Social Network Systems. Informatics. 8. 8. 10.3390/informatics8010008.

Deans, Penny & Tretola, Betsy. (2018). The evolution of social media and its impact on organizations and leaders. Journal of Organizational Computing and Electronic Commerce. 28. 173-192. 10.1080/10919392.2018.1484597.

Asunka, Stephen. (2017). Use of Social Media for Knowledge Sharing by Instructors in a Higher Education Institution: An Exploratory Case Study. 10.4018/978-1-5225-2897- 5.ch006.


Harikrishnan R S, Doctoral student at Indian institute of management, Kozhikode, India

Date last updated

21/08/2022 Please feel free to make modifications to this site. In order to do so, you must register.