Social Media Advertising: How Online Motivations and Congruency Influence Perceptions of Trust




Drawing from uses and gratifications theory, the current research demonstrates that users' trust in social media advertising is differentially influenced by the users' online motivation. We focus on three specific motivation types that previous research has shown are particularly relevant to internet use: (1) information motivation, using the internet to learn about current events and to do research; (2) social-interaction motivation, using the internet to socialize with friends, family, and other individuals; and (3) entertainment motivation, using the internet to pass time and engage in enjoyable activities. Using one survey and two experiments, we show that when users have an informational motivation, trust in social media advertising is lower than when they have an entertainment or social motivation. Congruency between the content of the social media advertisement and the online motivation can mitigate the negative effect on trust associated with an informational motive, while incongruency increases involvement and privacy concerns along with distrust. These findings provide helpful guidance to managers as they implement social media advertising campaigns.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2021, Wiley.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/cb.1989