Purpose: The paper focuses on social capital as the characteristic of social groups that promote coordination; moreover, social identity plays a key role in the construction of group relationships. However, few research studies have looked at how the social capital of social networking sites (SNSs) is related to the social identity of its members. Drawing on social capital and social identity theory, this study investigated the effects of SNS social capital (shared language, social trust and network density) on social identity and continuous participation. The mediating role of social identity was also investigated. Design/methodology/approach: In total, 444 SNS members volunteered to participate in this study. Structural equation modeling was applied to analyze a conceptual model. Findings: The results revealed that SNS social trust and network density directly and significantly affected the social identity and continuous participation behavior of members. SNSs using a shared language positively affected social identity, but this was not directly associated with continuous participation behavior. Originality/value: Because the network externalities of SNSs exert critical effects on user benefits, attracting continuous user participation remains one of the critical challenges for SNS administrators. Both the theoretical and practical implications of this study can aid SNS administrators in developing effective continuous participation strategies. Peer review: The peer-review history for this article is available at: https://publons.com/publon/10.1108/OIR-07-2021-0369.
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