Gillian Moran

Gillian Moran

PhD Thesis Title: More than Words: How Content Marketing Strategy Influences Customer Brand Engagement

Supervisors: Dr Laurent Muzzellac & Professor Mary Lambkin

External Examiners: Professor Michael Haenlein, ESCP Europe


The aim of this research study is to understand the effectiveness of social media-based brand communications. To achieve this aim the researcher sought to determine the influence of content marketing strategy on encouraging customer brand engagement within a real-world, social networking site setting. Customer brand engagement is a key practitioner priority in determining the success of social media marketing campaigns. The development of strategic guidelines for the management of content marketing strategy is an important objective of this research study.

 Taking the position that customer brand engagement is manifest in consumers’ behavioural responses toward branded communications, the researcher sought to contextualise engagement within the social media environment. Current debate on the issues of employing social media metrics is addressed by relating overt behavioural responses to deeper, more meaningful campaign outcomes. Furthermore the importance of embedding customer perceptions of value to enhance the underlying customer-brand relationship is teased out.

A preliminary content analysis of social media-based brand communications was undertaken. Two quantitative studies followed to comprehensively analyse the influence of content marketing strategy on customer brand engagement.  Study 1 comprises a macro-level analysis of content components identified from advertising and communications theories.  Study 2 delves further into the nuances of brand communications in the social media context by examining the micro-level sub-dimensions of strategic content components, thus providing one of the first systematic examinations of content marketing efficacy.

 The combined findings of these studies challenge emerging conventions in the development of content marketing strategy, particularly concerning the efficiacy of humour, incentives and videos as drivers of social media-based customer brand engagement. In consequence, the researcher proposes some novel guidelines for the implementation of content marketing management in these new media settings.  Furthermore, this research advances knowledge in the emerging theoretical domains of content marketing and customer brand engagement.

Discover our Rankings and Accreditations