Exploring the Relationship Between Social Media and Social Influence

Exploring the Relationship Between Social Media and Social Influence

Ali Usman (University of the West of Scotland, UK) and Sebastian Okafor (University of Cumbria, UK)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7344-9.ch004

Abstract

Online behavioral tailoring has become an integral part of online marketing strategies. Contemporary marketers increasingly seek to create an influential environment on social media to empower online users to participate in online brand communities. By interacting in this way, online communities hosted by brands marketers can enhance the nature of the complex interactions that occur amongst those that participate. Such online interactions lead to three different types of social influence compliance, internalization, and identity, which develop the consumers' purchase intentions. This chapter explains how the social influence support the change in beliefs, attitude, and intentions of the online consumers in the user-generated social media networking sites (SNSs). Furthermore, it discusses the functional impact of such online social influence that enables companies to understand the perceptions and needs of online users making sense of how multiple levels of social influence phenomenon on social media impact on consumers purchase intentions.
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Introduction

The transition from traditional modes of marketing to a consumer-centric marketing approach in B2C environments has had an explicit impact on the psychological behaviours of consumers. Such developments have captured the attention of marketers and academic researchers (Michaelidou et al., 2011). The shift to an integrated marketing communication paradigm from traditional media to internet based multi-channel marketing has revolutionised the concept of integrated marketing communication (Huang & Benyoucef, 2013). Furthermore, the continuous development of online media from computer mediated marketing applications to more sophisticated Web 2.0-based social media has dramatically transformed the purchase behaviours of online users by enhancing the speed of communications between businesses and consumers and reducing the costs associated with doing so (Tsai & Men, 2013). The development of social media has become one of the prime tools of online marketing, and this has captured the attention of stakeholders due to its significant impact on promotional communications between businesses and consumers, as well as amongst consumers (Ansarin & Ozuem, 2014). However, the empirical efforts for online consumers behavioural modelling on social media could result in its greater acceptability, making it a real-time online marketing tool for transforming online users into potential customers through change of behaviour via valuable information exchange. The extent to which social media and the development of behavioural modelling based on networked online social interactions can determine changes to purchase intentions and decision making behaviour lacks empirical understanding (Zhu & Chen, 2015). The aim of this chapter is to explain recent changes in the beliefs, opinions, attitudes and intentions of individuals as a result of complex heterogenic online social interactions among online users. Such interactions take place to expedite exchange information. They are valued for facilitating collaborative learning and circulating vital information about products and services (Lim & Heide, 2015). Further, this chapter also reveals how group-based online social interactions develop multiple levels of social influence to create behavioural uniformity among members of online social groups based on social influence.

The development of appropriate marketing and communication strategy on the basis of impartial changes to integrated marketing communication helps businesses to establish a direct connection with end-consumers at relatively low cost, and in an efficient timely manner. Such exchanges can socially influence the purchase behaviour of online users (Bhatli & Mehri, 2015). Businesses can exert significant influence by taking advantage of interactions between online members who join communities to satisfy a need to belong. This is achieved when they associate themselves with certain brand communities to feel socially connected and recognised after interacting with similar, like-minded online users (Bamberg et al., 2007; Zhang et al., 2015). Such an enhanced sense of belonging increases the desire of online users to become part of an online brand community. It also significantly increases the level of trust that exists between online users in financial services and enhances interactions and information sharing between group members who engage with financial services brands. Such online users feel more valued and recognised when associating with certain brands, and this is a direct result of engagement which significantly influences purchase intentions (Zhou, 2011).

Key Terms in this Chapter

User-Generated Content: UGC represents all the ways by which users create and exchange digital content and use social media on the technological basis of Web 2.0.

Purchase Intention: The willingness of a customer to buy a product or service in a certain condition.

B2C: The business environment where firms directly communicate and promote their products and services to the consumers through adopting multiple media and using integrated marketing communication strategies.

Web 2.0: Web 2.0 is a platform in which software and digital content are not only produced and published by individual companies and people but are also produced and developed by different participants in a continuous and collaborative manner.

Social media: Web 2.0-based application that runs on the principles of user-generated content, facilitating the online users to create, share, modify, and alter the digital content enabling the two-way communication on internet.

Social Interaction: The communication or contact of an individual with another individual or a group of individuals in the society for purpose of information exchange, entertainment, or to maintain essential social connection.

Social Influence: The phenomenon which explains the change in the individuals’ beliefs, attitudes, and intentions occurs at different levels because of social interaction between an individual and another individual or a group of individuals.

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