Purpose - This study aims to enhance the understanding of how co-created content (CCC) can facilitate relevant and meaningful customer experiences in social media brand communities (SMBCs). It investigates the characteristics of CCC and explores the effects they have on member engagement from an identity theories perspective. Design/methodology/approach A netnography of a university's Facebook and Instagram accounts was undertaken to analyse exemplary content co-creation practice and resulting user reactions in an organic setting. Findings The analysis of CCC confirmed a strong presence of identity narratives and cues that can be categorised into university, sub-group and student role identity themes. Members' identity-consistent reactions highlight that CCC can influence member perceptions of the distinctiveness, prestige and similarity of the identities they enact. University identity theme CCC allows members to project other member's identity narrative, while sub-group and student-role identity theme CCC can help increase identity synergy.
Research limitations/ implications - The paper adds to the social media marketing literature that SMBC members are important integrators of symbolic resources that influence other members' identity constructions and further their perceived relationships with the organisation and other members. Social media enables marketers to leverage members' diverse identities to enhance customer experiences. The study's single context focus may be a limitation.
Practical implications - The paper provides a useful framework for designing social media content that facilitates meaningful engagement.
Originality/value - The use of identity theories to enhance the understanding of CCC and its role in SMBCs is original. The paper generates new lines of future enquiries to advance theorisation of social media marketing.