Social Media as Persuasive Technology for Business in Malaysia

Social Media as Persuasive Technology for Business in Malaysia

Shahizan Hassan (Universiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia), Norshuhada Shiratuddin (Universiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia) and Sobihatun Nur Ab Salam (Universiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8182-6.ch032
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The use of social media for business purposes has been growing exponentially due to its great potential as an effective marketing tool. Nonetheless, studies which assess how effective social media can be as a persuasive technology are limited, especially in the context of developing countries. Therefore, this study attempts to evaluate the perceived impact of social media as a persuasive technology for businesses in Malaysia. To accomplish this, a questionnaire survey was conducted with 1,196 social media users. Geographical clustering sampling was used, together with simple random sampling to select participants for the survey, which was based in five regions in Malaysia. The outcome of the survey shows that social media can have a significant impact on business and that the majority of social media users perceive that social media content can indeed persuade people to purchase products or services offered. Furthermore, it was found that social media content can also significantly influence purchasing decisions.
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Introduction And Background Of Study

The impact of social media (SM) on business should not be underestimated as trends and a number of studies (e.g. Jacobs & Nakata, 2010; Universal McCann, 2008; Barnes, & Matson, 2008; SME Annual Report, 2007; Nielsen Company, 2010) have shown that SM, especially Facebook and Twitter, have been utilised extensively as business and marketing tools all over the world. Many studies in the United States and Europe have provided evidence that SM has a positive impact on business, especially for small and medium enterprises or SMEs (Swallow, 2010: Lesley, 2012; Darban & Wei Li, 2012). Socialbakers (2014) and Google Analytics (2014) show in their reports that most large companies have already been fully utilising SM to expand their market reach and to improve customer relations. Nonetheless, the extent to which SM can be considered to be a persuasive technology in business remains to be determined. Furthermore, the impact of SM has not been very widely reported in the context of South East Asian Region.

Studies such as those conducted by Jacobs and Nakata (2010) and many others show that SM tools have been integrated widely in e-commerce and e-business for the purposes of marketing and customer relations. As a result, terms such as social commerce and social enterprise have emerged (Turban, Bolloju, & Peng Liang, 2011). Firms are now aware of the fact that social networking has become an integral part of consumers’ behaviour and lifestyle. Some studies in Western countries have even indicated that SM such as Facebook can have a significant impact on purchasing decisions (Lesley, 2012; Darban & Wei Li, 2012). Therefore, SM can indeed be considered to be persuasive technology that can change the attitudes or behaviour of the users through persuasion and social influence (Fogg, 2003; Oinas-Kukkonen, & Harjumaa, 2008). The main purpose of this paper is to present a study which examines the impact and role of SM as a persuasive technology in the business environment.

Most studies of SM and its impact on business such as those mentioned earlier (e.g. Lee, 2013, Lesley, 2012; Darban & Wei Li, 2012) and several others such as Universal McCann (2008), Barnes and Matson (2008), and Deloitte (2007) were conducted in developed countries. Only a few reports (e.g. PCW, 2014; Chai Li, 2014; Hadadi & Almsafir, 2014) on the role of SM as a persuasive technology with regard to business in South East Asian countries like Malaysia, however, have been conducted. The extent to which SM can have an impact on purchasing decisions also needs to be researched further (Martinka, 2012). Thus, the following issues need to be addressed:

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