Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

The Effect of Firm Marketing Content on Product Sales: Evidence from a Mobile Social Media Platform

Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

The Effect of Firm Marketing Content on Product Sales: Evidence from a Mobile Social Media Platform

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)


Social media has been popular over the past few years among both individual users and firms, due to its nature of social interaction. It attracts individual users by having many functions and benefits such as making new friends, sharing opinions, and interacting with other people. For firms, social media gives a unique opportunity to reach potential consumers more easily and more targeted. Thus, firms are continuously using social media to market their brands and products, and interact with consumers. Marketer generated content (MGC) has become a dominating firm social media marketing activity. On social media platform, especially on mobile social media platform, content distribution is much faster and wider. Despite the extensive use of social media, however, firms have not reached a clear understanding of whether and how much MGC affects firm marketing performance.

Due to the lack of performance evaluation, firms are indecisive about their social media marketing efforts. Some are skeptical about MGC effect. For example, General Motors, the famous automaker, said that their marketing efforts on Facebook were ineffective, and therefore discontinued its Facebook advertising campaigns [The Huffington Post 2012]. Meanwhile, some firms are advocates and capable of using social media. Dell is a successful case. During the year 2007 to 2009, Dell had kept posting MGC on Twitter to notify its consumer exclusive deals, which directly brought three million dollars' revenue. These two different cases suggest that it is critical for marketers to evaluate their social media efforts, as effects of social media marketing can be different for firms selling different kinds of products.

When designing social media marketing, appropriate content makes difference because it affects how embedded information is perceived by consumers. In practice, marketers usually employ both informative content and persuasive content. Informative content is the most common type of content that marketers employ on social media platforms. It provides product and brand information for consumers and enables consumer interactions and engagement [Gaber & Wright 2014]. Persuasive content, on the other hand, is more effective in attracting consumers' attention, keeping them on the page, and convincing them toward final purchase [Muhammad et al. 2014]. However, in prior literature, it lacks specific examination on the sales effect of different types of social media marketing contents. Having this knowledge could help firms improve their social media marketing performance.

Motivated by the above considerations, we aim to address the following issues in this study. First, we examine the sales effect of firm social media marketing at the product-level and for various firms. Prior literature on the effect of social media marketing solely focuses on single firm at the individual (consumers of the firm) level such as Goh et al. [2013] and Rishika et al. [2013]. By looking at multiple firms selling different kinds of products, we believe findings from our study are more generalized. Second, while existing literature on the effect of social media MGC mainly focuses on metrics of MGC such as volume and valence, we add new evidence by looking at how content types may affect corresponding product sales. In the literature, the only exceptions that have explored MGC contents are Goh et al. [2013], Tucker [2014], and Lee et al. [2016]. However, they have inconsistent findings. Goh et al. [2013] and Lee et al. [2016], by classifying MGC into informative content and persuasive content, found that the sales effect of social media marketing is through persuasive communications, whereas findings from Tucker [2014] concluded that the viral advertisement content is generally less persuasive. Third, we examine how the sales effect of MGC contents varies with product categories that has not been studied in existing literature. …

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