Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

The Effect of System Generated Cues on Microblog Rewarding Repost Behavior – a Source Credibility Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

The Effect of System Generated Cues on Microblog Rewarding Repost Behavior – a Source Credibility Perspective

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

The rapid development of microblogging has leveraged the intensity of marketing battlefield for corporations and individuals by the means of "hot topic" creation and other relative behaviors. Almost all Forbes Fortune 500 companies adopted official microblogs to spread product-related information, socialize with target audience and alike, and in turn, build brand awareness [Ratliff & Kunz 2014]. Up to June 2016, China had over 242 million monthly active microblog users and the utilization ratio was 34%, a slight increase over the end of 2015 [CNNIC 2016]. Microblogging has also become the main source of view counts for e-commerce platforms. Users are able to click the advertisement links posted on microblogs and are then directed to online shopping websites such as Taobao, JD.com, etc. Based on the latest report issued by CNNIC, reposting is ranked one of the most frequently used functions of microblogging sites (52.8% of total active users frequently use this function), and in turn, generating more response and participation from other users [CNNIC 2016]. Therefore, it is of e-marketer's great interest to understand which factor would potentially drive consumers to repost marketing information, and thus it leads to abundant researches exploring determinates that promote reposting behaviors. Fu & Chau [2013] collected a large amount of Chinese microblog data and revealed that volume of followers are a key determinant of creating original microblog posts, reposting messages, being reposted, and receiving comments. Other scholars identified that emotion in both posts and reposts has positive effects on information propagation [Z. Wang et al. 2014]. In the context of online shopping, Pai & Tsai [2016] showed that a reciprocity norm functions as a proximal determinant of information-sharing behavior.

While considering the insightful contributions of abovementioned studies, to the best of our knowledge, very few studies explored the linkage between system generated cues (SGCs) and rewarding repost behavior on microblogs. We define rewarding repost as a way of spreading marketing information on microblogs specifically and it has inherent characteristics which defers from general microblog posts and reposts. After participants (i.e. microblog reposters) have successfully forwarded a post, there is a chance that some of them will be selected to enter a draw for potential gifts or financial incentives provided by the profile owner (i.e. a marketing company) who originally posted that microblog. However, various requirements such as to notify certain number of friends or become followers of the profile owner and so on, need to be satisfied before reposting in order for those reposters to be selected. Rewarding repost type of microblog will facilitate higher number of reposts compared to regular microblog posts (which mainly rely on eye-catching or innovative message contents other than incentives to drive repost behavior), even in the case of celebrities' posts and reposts, if an incentive is not attached (e.g., a regular post), it will result in a significantly reduced number of reposts than average number of reposts generated by rewarding repost type of microblogs [CNNIC 2016]. On the other hand, however, reposting too many uninteresting and irrelevant messages to friends in exchange for incentives would make reposters feel uncomfortable and thus attenuate their intention to repost [Y. Li & Shiu 2012]. Therefore, the current study is delineated to explore the driving forces of microblog users' reposting behavior, in the context of microblog rewarding reposts, which are found to have significant marketing value (than regular microblog post) for the original poster in microblogging site. Furthermore, many preceding studies argued that the key of microblog message diffusion through the means of user interaction (i.e., retweet, reply, bookmarking etc) depends greatly on the message content relevance and the close social relationship with users [Delre et al. …

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