The impact of social media advertising on brand’ legitimacy

Lluc Vila-Boix, Alicia Blanco-González, Giorgia Miotto, Felipe Hernández-Perlines

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review


Social networks are considered by entrepreneurs as platforms for spreading promotional messages to their desired audiences. In fact, there has been an increasing concern among users regarding the potential negative and abusive exposure of personal data and private space, but entrepreneurs have not taken the necessary steps to prevent this phenomenon. Despite the fact that users are becoming increasingly accustomed to invasive technological services, the lack of trust in data protection policies and personal space violations in social networks are now common topics for both users and the media and an interesting field of entrepreneurship research. The objective of this research is to analyze how social network advertisements affect user privacy and intimacy concerns and influence perceptions of entrepreneurial legitimacy. Using a sample of 400 Instagram users and applying a structural equation system, this research contributes to institutional theory by revealing how intimacy and privacy in social networks affect the three dimensions of legitimacy, namely, the cognitive, moral and pragmatic dimensions. Pragmatic and cognitive legitimacy are more important for purchase intentions than moral legitimacy since the usefulness perceived by users of well-targeted advertisements is more important than the individual moral acceptance of the excessive entrepreneurial intrusiveness. In terms of managerial implications, the findings highlight the importance of effective and transparent communication strategies to inform users about the positive impact of social network marketing on their decision-making process when choosing the best product, despite the loss of privacy and intimacy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Entrepreneurship and Management Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Entrepreneurship
  • Intimacy
  • Legitimacy
  • Privacy
  • Social Networks


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