Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Business Administration-Marketing

Committee Director

Yuping Liu-Thompkins

Committee Member

Kiran Karande

Committee Member

Richard N. Landers


A key issue in social media marketing is insufficient consumer participation and engagement. Oftentimes companies have to devise tactics to encourage more social sharing of brand messages, such as through the use of incentives and rewards. Previous research has investigated incentive effects under the traditional offline context, which addresses mostly economic exchanges and fails to consider the social dynamics of the social media environment. Addressing this gap, this research aims to answer the following research question: how can companies target different consumers with different incentives to maximize consumer sharing through social media? Specifically, the present research proposes three factors that can affect the relative appropriateness of monetary versus non-monetary incentives in driving consumer sharing: consumer loyalty, audience size and brand personality. Three experimental studies were conducted to examine these factors. The findings of study 1 indicate that consumers with high loyalty are more likely to engage in social sharing when faced with non-monetary incentives. In contrast, non-loyal consumers are more likely to engage in social sharing when offered monetary incentives. Study 2 shows that non-monetary incentives are more effective when sharing to a wide audience is requested, but incentive type does not make a difference when sharing is limited to specific individuals. The results of Study 3 show that, for a brand characterized by sincerity, consumers are more likely to engage in social sharing when a non-monetary incentive is used than when a monetary incentive is used. For an “exciting” brand, the incentive type does not matter. By examining these moderators, this dissertation contributes to a better understanding of how to use incentives more appropriately to increase social sharing under different situations. Moreover, the research findings here can help marketers define the appropriate strategies to target different types of social interactions, and allow them to restore some control in the co-creation of brand stories in the social media context.


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