Do Social Networking Fan Page Posts Matter for Corporate Image?: Modified Elaboration Likelihood Model Perspective

Do Social Networking Fan Page Posts Matter for Corporate Image?: Modified Elaboration Likelihood Model Perspective

Soo Il Shin, Dianne J. Hall, Sumin Han, David Paradice, Teresa Lang
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/JOEUC.20211101.oa17
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The purpose of the current study is to examine factors affecting corporate image driven by social networking fan pages on Facebook. Under the modified elaboration likelihood model (ELM), we answer how fan page contributor post quality (FPQ) and source credibility (FPC) influence fan page post informativeness (FPI) and in turn, impact corporate image. We tested the hypotheses by analyzing survey responses using a covariance-based SEM method from 178 respondents who follow at least one company fan page on Facebook. The findings reveal that FPQ and FPC play a salient role in explaining FPI, which, in turn, impacts the corporate image. Our results show that uncertainty about products or services posted on a fan page significantly moderates the relationships among FPQ, FPC, and FPI. Implications and limitations are discussed.
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Corporate image has been referred to as “the net result of interaction of all experiences, impressions, beliefs, feelings, and knowledge people have about a company, and it is not a single entity” (Kassim & Souiden, 2007, p. 220). Few would argue that the amount of effort put toward corporate image development and maintenance online has been steadily increasing. Print, radio, and television advertisements all refer to corporate websites and, increasingly, to social networking sites that have been established as introductions to a corporation’s offerings of products and services. But despite this corporate investment in developing and sustaining social media engagement with the public, we can find little research proving that the effort positively benefits a firm’s corporate image.

Academic attention on corporate image began in the 1950s (Martineau, 1958), and corporate image has been a vital differentiator when products and services in an industry become very similar. Prior studies have acknowledged that corporate image is not a customer’s single impression of the company’s products or services, but rather is an outcome of the overall cumulative impression in the customer’s mind formulated from the many diverse aspects of a particular company (Nguyen & Leblanc, 2001). While building a successful corporate image may take years to accomplish, it can take only an instant to lose the good reputation that this image reflects (Nguyen & Leblanc, 2001). For example, a massive recall of Toyota vehicles in 2010 caused a substantial monetary loss due to repair and legal costs. However, incurring image costs was particularly significant, because Toyota had successfully maintained a positive corporate image for many years (Elmerraji, 2010).

Corporate image has traditionally been developed through media advertising and has often relied on celebrities’ word of mouth (Kim, Lee, & Prideaux, 2014). However, because more people are connected to online media resources nowadays (e.g., social networks), online media is becoming an increasingly accepted means by corporations with which to build a corporate image. Unlike conventional one-way communication by an organization, exchanging ideas among organizations and customers and pursuing new opinions positively or negatively alters an organization’s image (Becker & Nobre, 2014). Although corporate image has still been a difficult construct to conceptualize (Browning, Gogo, & Kimmel, 2018), the current study approaches shaping corporate image through the lens of the social networking fan page and then delves deeply into interactions between corporations and customers.

Given the importance of communications to build up an attractive corporate image, we delve deeply into interactions between organizations and customers via social network fan pages. Particularly, we focus on fan page contents as a starting point for examining the interactions between a company and its content viewers. Creating good quality and credible content on fan pages is important because it tends to attract page followers’ active involvement. Corporate image is critical in this context because fan pages created by an organization that is perceived as inauthentic will have negative consequences for the organization. A lack of authenticity occurs when corporations cannot provide a sense of community and when readers believe that page posts are not useful because informative posts have been found to be more satisfying and more valuable to information recipients (Ducoffe, 1996). As a communications outlet, a social networking site (SNS) and its fan page are known to be an aggregate of three system aspects: technological, informational, and social systems (Spagnoletti, Resca, & Sæbø, 2015). This means that such distinct attributes facilitate unique social relationships, deep engagement, increased collaboration under user-generated digital content, and a sharing culture among individual and organizational users (Wakefield & Wakefield, 2016). Opening an SNS fan page is common among organizations because they are available free of charge, and fans potentially become customers, thus leading to increased profit (Kang, Tang, & Fiore, 2014).

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