The purpose of this study is to examine four characteristics of social media content and their effects on restaurant patrons. The characteristics we examine in our study are authenticity, consensus, usefulness, and aesthetics. More specifically, the study investigates how content characteristics influence consumers’ cognition-based and affect-based attitudes toward the message, which, in turn, influence brand attitude and behavioral intentions. Data were collected from 376 respondents who had frequented restaurants on a regular basis and used social media networks for at least one year. Structural equation modeling with AMOS 22.0 was used to analyze the data. The most important content characteristic that influences both cognition-based attitude and affect-based attitude is usefulness. All three other content characteristics (authenticity, consensus, and aesthetics) are also found to have a significant impact on either cognition-based or affect-based attitudes. While both cognition-based and affect-based attitudes have a significant effect on brand attitude, the effect of affect-based attitude is fully mediated by brand attitude in influencing behavioral intentions. The mediating role of brand attitude is also examined.
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