Thumbs down on “likes”? The impact of Facebook reactions on online consumers’ nonprofit engagement behavior

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Businesses and marketers have long pursued users’ “likes” on Facebook, but some have doubts about the effect of the presence of Facebook reactions such as “like” and “love.” This study addresses the long-overdue question of whether the presence of social media reactions (e.g., “likes” and “loves”) influences consumer attitudes and behavioral intentions towards nonprofits after being exposed to nonprofit organizations’ (NPOs’) social media posts. This study, drawing on signaling theory, investigated the impact of social media reactions on individuals’ engagement behavior intentions toward nonprofits. The results show that a higher number of reactions is not always good. The higher number of Facebook reactions positively influence individuals’ trust, but that number showed either a negative or no effect on engagement behaviors toward nonprofits. This study has important implications for marketing practitioners, particularly in the nonprofit sector, such as being careful how they approach pursuing “likes” on social media. Facebook marketing could be used more effectively to improve social media users’ attitudes towards a nonprofit organization than to influence their engagement behavior, such as making a donation.

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International Review on Public and Nonprofit Marketing

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