Manipulating Temporal Cues and Message Concreteness for Deal Communication: A Study on Microblogging Site

Manipulating Temporal Cues and Message Concreteness for Deal Communication: A Study on Microblogging Site

Yi Liu
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/JGIM.2020040106
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Online merchants often use social media to communicate deal messages to directed consumers, but they face the fundamental challenge of how to effectively communicate deal messages to these consumers using that medium. This research seeks to address this challenge by building on the construal level theory to theorize that consumers' purchase intentions in response to the products promoted via social media communication are affected by the concreteness of promotion messages and its interaction with message promotional time and deal expiration time. A between-subject experiment was conducted, and the findings suggest that concrete messages lead to higher purchase intentions. Through interacting message concreteness, message promotional time and deal expiration time, we show that the congruency of a concrete message with either, but not both, temporal cue lead to higher purchase intention. This study thus provides theoretically grounded insights on how to better communicate deal information on microblogging sites.
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Social media has attracted merchants’ attention due to its potential to provide business value (Culnan, McHugh, & Zubillage, 2010; Huang, Zhang, Li, & Lv, 2014). To achieve this value, merchants communicate and interact with consumers in social media brand communities (Goh, Heng, & Lin, 2013). The objective of doing so is to increase the likelihood that consumers purchase products from the communicating merchant (Xie & Lee, 2015). Amidst the much-anticipated prospect, for merchants, of tapping into social media to connect with their consumers (Culnan, McHugh, & Zubillage, 2010; Goh, Heng, & Lin, 2013; Lukoff, 2011; Xia, 2013), anecdotal evidence of sales generation through social media remains mixed1. Central to this is less the quantification of the value of social media but more the pragmatic question of how to effectively communicate deal messages to consumers via such media (Stelzner, 2011). Mangold and Faulds (2009) echoed this viewpoint and indicated that the degree to which social media is effectively utilized determines its value realization. Merchants could communicate messages on social media with rich information in order to increase sales (Goh, Heng, & Lin, 2013). Similarly, actively responding to consumers’ messages in social media communications could positively affect a merchant’s market performance—but the intensity of such messages does not affect this (Chung, Animesh, Han, & Pinsonneault, 2014). Moreover, employing social media management tools, adopting broadcasting accounts, and using a conversational communication approach can improve the attitudinal loyalty of consumers, which is beneficial for a merchant’s sale performance (Risius & Beck, 2015).

Although some characteristics of social media messages (e.g., richness; intensity) and social media accounts (e.g., broadcasting; conversational approach) have been examined, the knowledge gap as to how merchants can successfully communicate on social media platforms—and which social media strategies they should pursue—remains to be filled (Aral, Dellarocas, & Godes, 2013). This study endeavors to take this research direction by seeking an answer as to how communication through social media can entice consumers better, in order to enhance product sales. Specifically, it investigates how the temporal cues and the concreteness of the promotional message affects consumers’ purchase intentions. Regarding consumers’ evaluation of merchants’ promotional messages, construal level theory (CLT) and its “fit” literature provide insights. It has been found that consumers’ evaluations could be strengthened when their construal of the messages is congruent with one of the four dimensions of psychological distance—namely, spatial, temporal, social, or hypothetical distance (Trope, Liberman, & Wakslak, 2007; Kim, Rao, & Lee, 2009). Moreover, the interaction effect of two dimensions of psychological distance has also been briefly explored—such as the interaction effect of social and temporal distance on consumers’ responses to peer recommendations (Zhao & Xie, 2011) and consumers’ evaluations to products (Kim, Zhang, & Li, 2008). However, two contextual cues from the same dimension—cues which are likely to be embedded in the deal promotional messages—have not been investigated. This study looks at such a case by focusing on the message promotional time and the deal expiration time, which are two temporal cues regularly embedded in promotional messages. The author further explores the effect that their interactions—together with message concreteness—have on consumers’ evaluations.

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