Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations


Consumers' Engagement with Local and Global Brands on Facebook in Saudi Arabia

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Louisa Ha (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Laura Sanchez (Other)

Third Advisor

Gi Woong Yun (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Lisa Hanasono (Committee Member)


Facebook is one of the most popular outlets that allows brands to connect with their customers. With globalization, brands are expanding their reach to consumers all over the world, which raises questions of what are the most effective strategies (standardization versus localization) brands should use to communicate to their diverse multinational consumers. This dissertation focuses on brand-consumer relationship building based on the establishment of social capital and engagement through social media—Facebook. This dissertation also examines the impact of culture on the effectiveness of social media campaigns in Saudi Arabia. In addition, the researcher examined the standardization/localization strategies used by global brands in their Facebook pages in Saudi Arabia. The theories of cultural paradox, branding, globalization, and social capital are used to examine the research questions and hypotheses.

The dissertation consists of two studies (content analysis and an online questionnaire) to examine the effectiveness of the Facebook strategies used by local and global brands in Saudi Arabia based on the available content and metrics (e.g., like, comment, and share) as well as the perception of users of Facebook pages of the local and global brands’ pages in Saudi Arabia. Some of the most notable findings of this dissertation are as follows: although the desirable local culture is more important especially for local brands, cultural paradox was apparent among the Saudi consumers. People still expressed interest in seeing content that reflects what is socially desirable; yet they are interested in seeing content that consists of desired rather than desirable from global brands more than local brands. But in general, social media brand postings reflect the socially desirable mainstream cultural values in Saudi Arabia for the most part among both local and global brands, showing more commonality between local and global brands.

In regards to social capital benefits and their impact on engagement in brands’ Facebook pages and brand loyalty, although individuals indicated that they are more likely to engage in brands Facebook pages if the posts offer more hedonic benefits (e.g., socializing and entertainment) than utilitarian benefits (e.g., coupons and discounts), individuals indicated that they are more likely to become loyal to the brand if they receive utilitarian benefits (cognitive engagement) from the brand’s Facebook page. Hence even the social media metrics focus on affection and activation engagement, cognition engagement is the one that directly leads to brand loyalty. Affection and activation engagements indirectly affect brand loyalty via their effect on cognition engagement.