Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Shopping and Word-of-Mouth Intentions on Social Media

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Shopping and Word-of-Mouth Intentions on Social Media

Article excerpt


Social Media has been gaining popularity worldwide over the last years at an increasingly growing rate. Motivated by this fact, firms are piloting different approaches of promoting their products and services to consumers in order to capitalize on the prominence of such websites. However, there is much debate in the academic and business community about the potential of social media as a platform for marketing and commerce, and the viable strategies that could constitute them as a possible solution for future ventures. Research to date has been growing, with only a limited number of studies exploring the business potential of social media. The aim of this research is to elucidate how specific aspects of social media websites foster user intention to browse products, and the effect that this has in shaping purchasing and information sharing intentions. Utilitarian and Hedonic motivation theory provides the theoretical background on which we segregate the factors that contribute to product browsing on social media websites. Partial Least Squares (PLS) analysis is performed on data obtained from 165 social media users to test our research model. Outcomes indicate that specific aspects trigger Utilitarian (Convenience and Product Selection) and Hedonic (Idea and Adventure) motivations which in sequence impact user intention to browse products on such mediums. Finally, browsing intention is linked in a significantly positive manner with purchasing and word-of-mouth intention.

Keywords: Social media, Internet shopping, Purchase motivation, Utilitarian and hedonic motivation, Theory of planned behavior, Electronic word of mouth

1 Introduction

Social media has managed to revolutionize the way Internet users communicate and interact with each other within a very short period. Users have adopted in masses many such websites, taking advantage of the free services that they offer, enabling them to stay connected with their friends, meet new acquaintances, share user-generated content such as photos, videos and text, and get informed about news and trends [34]. Latest studies indicate that US users spend more than 22% of their online time on social networking websites [57]; while according to [58] Indian users spend more time on social media sites than on any other activity on the Internet. In addition to the increasing time spent on social media, user adoption has multiplied, with some prominent examples being Facebook (900 million users), Twitter (500 million users) and QZone (480 million users) [24]. The spectrum of social media however does not consist solely of social networking sites (SNS), but also encompasses a wide range of applications, such as media sharing (YouTube, Flickr, Jamendo), business and academia networking (LinkedIn, Academia), virtual worlds (Second Life), blogs (Blogspot), and many other platforms. The means by which social media has managed to attract and maintain users on their websites for extended periods of time has allured researchers in demarcating the facilitating factors of their success [35].

The attention that social media has received however has not been limited to research purposes only. Increasing emphasis now shifted to the business value that they may offer [53]. Over the past years business executives and marketers have realized the business potential that these platforms may have for gaining a competitive edge [9], [68]. The richness of media supported by social media, in combination with the vast user base, enables them to be used as a unique tool for attracting new customers and gaining direct customer feedback. These aspects of social media combined with promising reports from early business adopters which state that 61% of companies are somewhat to very satisfied with the returns of their investment [51], have put pressure on companies to formulate strategies with the aim of harvesting this potential.

Despite the rosy prospects of social media as a strategic tool for gaining a competitive advantage, a number of studies have revealed that in many occasions companies that have rushed into such websites without formulating a clear plan have not only failed to realize any gains, but have in some cases even had a damaging effect on their image [32]. …

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