'What if My Mum Sees It?’: Examination of visible brand interaction in the presence of a wider network

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • University of Edinburgh, The
  • University of Bath


Purpose - It is known that to encourage people to interact (e.g. sharing) with brands through social media businesses create content inline with the expectations of their target audience. On these sites however such interaction by consumers is visible contributing to their self-presentation, which can by their wider network; some of whom will find it appropriate, others may not. Currently, little is known about the effects of consumers’ own diverse set of audiences’ on behavorial intention towards brand interaction and emotional effect.

Design/methodology/approach - Survey methodology (n = 386) was adopted to examine intention to interact with real brand posts.

Findings - Results show that brand interaction is associated with social anxiety when it is felt that visible evidence of such actions are discrepant from audience expectations. This then constrains behavioral intention to interact with brands online.

Practical implications – For businesses to maximize brand interactions and minimize social anxiety, they must be mindful of not just the expectations of their target but also consider their target’s own network. For site designers, this research urges for greater refining of privacy tools and suggests the addition of a ‘Secret Like’ option.

Originality / value - Encouraging visible brand interaction through social media is paramount for businesses. Managers focus only on their target audience when designing content but neglect to consider the self-presentational implications of interacting with branded content to wider networks. This paper shows this must be considered to increase success and maintain ethical practice. This is of value for multiple-stakeholders, managers, users, site designers and academics.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-226
JournalInformation Technology & People
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2017


  • Behaviour, Brands, E-marketing, Virtual identity