Understanding user-generated content and customer engagement on Facebook business pages

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


With the growth and prevalence of social media platforms, many companies have been using them to engage with customers and encourage user-generated content (UGC) about their products and services. However, there has not been much research on the characteristics of UGC on these platforms and, correspondingly, their impact on customer engagement. In this paper, we analyze user-generated posts from Facebook business pages of multiple companies to understand what users post on Facebook business pages and how post valence and content characteristics affect engagement, measured as the number of likes and comments received by a post. We control for a variety of factors, including post linguistic features, poster characteristics, and post context heterogeneity. Our analysis demonstrates that for user-generated posts on Facebook business pages, negative posts are significantly more prevalent than positive posts, which contrasts with the J-shaped valence distribution of online consumer reviews. We also show that engagement depends not only on the valence of a post but also on the specific ways in which a post is positive or negative. We observe three types of customer complaints, respectively, related to product and service quality, money issues, and social and environmental issues. Our analyses show that social complaints receive more likes, but fewer comments, than quality or money complaints. Such nuances can only be uncovered by analyzing the actual post content, going beyond the valence of the posts. Furthermore, we theoretically discuss and empirically demonstrate that liking and commenting are engagement behaviors with different antecedents. For example, positive posts tend to attract more likes yet fewer comments than neutral posts. Overall, our research shows that user-generated posts on Facebook business pages represent a distinctive form of UGC that is conceptually different from online consumer reviews. Our work advances the knowledge on UGC and has practical implications for firms’ social media marketing strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)839-855
Number of pages17
JournalInformation Systems Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
History: Yong Tan, Senior Editor; Anjana Susarla, Associate Editor. Funding: Funding sources include the 3M Foundation, the University of Minnesota Grant-in-Aid Pro-gram, and the Carlson School of Management Dean’s Small Research Grant Program. Supplemental Material: The online appendix is available at https://doi.org/10.1287/isre.2019.0834.

Funding Information:
Funding sources include the 3M Foundation, the University of Minnesota Grant-in-Aid Program, and the Carlson School of Management Dean?s Small Research Grant Program. The authors thank the senior editor, associate editor, and three anonymous reviewers for their guidance; Chelsea Manor, Nina Domingo, Laura Studer, and Erin Vogel for their research assistance; and participants of research seminars at Emory University, McGill University, New York University, University of Maryland, University of Washington, and Temple University for the helpful feedback.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright: © 2019 INFORMS


  • Customer engagement
  • Facebook
  • Social media
  • User-generated content
  • Word-of-mouth


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