Social media uses social ads that are enriched with social media likes (SMLs). Yet, existing research on advertising cannot explain how SMLs influence individuals’ engagement with social ads. We build upon herding literature and the theory of the strengths of ties and explain how the observation of social ads enriched with SMLs influences individuals’ intention to engage with the social ad. This paper explains the effect 1) of the pure number of SMLs of a social ad and 2) the effect of SMLs from strongly or weakly tied friends on individuals’ engagement with social ads. We thereby contribute to a better understanding why individuals click on social ads and provide practical implications for social media marketing campaigns.

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