Purpose: The ever-growing popularity of social media platforms is evidence of consumers engaging emotionally with these brands. Given the prominence of social media in society, the purpose of this paper is to understand social media platforms from a “brand” perspective through examining the effect of consumers’ emotional attachment on social media consumer-based brand equity (CBBE). Design/methodology/approach: This paper develops a model that outlines how emotional brand attachment with social media explains social media CBBE via shaping consumer perceptions of brand credibility and consumer satisfaction. An online survey of 340 Australian social media consumers provided data for empirical testing. The inclusion of multiple context-relevant covariates and use of a method-variance-adjusted data matrix, as well as an examination of an alternative model, adds robustness to the results. Findings: The findings of this paper support the conceptual model, and the authors identify strong relationships between the focal variables. A phantom model analysis explicates specific indirect effects of emotional brand attachment on CBBE. The authors also find support for a fully mediated effect of emotional brand attachment on social media brand equity. Further, they broaden the nomological network of emotional brand attachment, outlining key outcomes. Research limitations/implications: This paper offers a conceptual mechanism (a chain-of-effects) of how consumer emotional brand attachment with social media brands translates into social media CBBE. It also finds that a brand’s credibility as well as its ability to perform against consumer expectations (i.e. satisfaction) are equally effective in translating emotional brand attachment into social media CBBE. Practical implications: Social media brands are constantly challenged by rapid change and ongoing criticism over such issues as data privacy. The implications from this paper suggest that managers should make investments in creating (reinforcing) emotional connections with social media consumers, as this will favorably impact CBBE by way of a relational mechanism, that is, via enhancing credibility and consumer satisfaction. Social implications: Lately, social media in general has suffered from a crisis of trust in society. The enhanced credibility of social media brands resulting from consumers’ emotional attachments will potentially serve to enhance its acceptance as a credible form of media in society. Originality/value: Social media platforms are often examined as brand-building platforms. This paper adopts a different perspective, examining social media platforms as brands per se and the effects of emotional attachments that consumers develop towards these. This paper offers valuable insights into how consumers’ emotional attachments drive vital brand judgments such as credibility and satisfaction, ultimately culminating into social media CBBE. © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited.