Although a growing number of consumers acknowledge the importance of firms’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, how companies can effectively communicate these initiatives to consumers is still a challenge. Although the rise of social media platforms has provided firms with opportunities for more immediate and interactive communication with consumers, recent academic studies related to social media have mostly focused on effective communication of promotional messages, and relatively little attention has been paid to prosocial messages. For better communication, social media branded messages have encouraged user participation (i.e., calls to action), but how diverse types of calls to action can generate consumer engagement remains unexplored. Using over 2000 branded posts from popular consumer product brands on Facebook and Twitter, this research explores diverse types of calls to action that drive consumers’ attitudinal (i.e., likes) and behavioral (i.e., shares) engagement with CSR-related messages on social media. The research findings suggest that the types of calls to action matter in the effectiveness of CSR messages. Specifically, CSR messages inviting consumers to brand-related programs or games generated a greater number of likes and shares. However, the overall engagement was lower when CSR messages encouraged further conversations, and rewarding consumers was also less effective. Finally, the results show that multiple calls to action within one message decrease engagement. Overall, this study contributes to the academic literature and management by providing new insights and actionable guidelines on how to encourage user participation when designing CSR messages to enhance consumers’ attitudinal and behavioral engagement within social media, thereby contributing to sustainable development while enhancing the effectiveness of marketing communications.
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© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Calls to action
- Consumer engagement
- Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
- Social media
- Sustainable development
- User participation