Who Are Fans of Facebook Fan Pages? an Electronic Word-of-Mouth Communication Perspective

By Hu, Xiao; Ha, Louisa et al. | International Journal of Cyber Society and Education, December 2014 | Go to article overview

Who Are Fans of Facebook Fan Pages? an Electronic Word-of-Mouth Communication Perspective


Hu, Xiao, Ha, Louisa, Mo, Simeng, Xu, Ying, International Journal of Cyber Society and Education


INTRODUCTION

Given the exponential growth of people gathered by Facebook, its business value has been increasingly recognized in both industry (Jeanjean, 2012) and academia (Lin & Lu, 2011). One billion people actively use Facebook monthly (facebook, 2012); 830,000 new users join every day; more importantly, more than 1.5 million organizations have created fan pages (or brand pages) on Facebook; and 20 million people "like" Facebook fan pages every day (Jeanjean, 2012). Establishing a fan page to attract fans based on the platform of social network sites has become a popular marketing practice to encourage WOM communication (Li & Bemoff, 2008).

A Facebook fan page is similar to a personal profile. Different from a personal profile for social and personal reasons, a fan page is public and used for product/service or corporation promotion. Once fans "Like," "Share," or post on events of fan pages, free promotion for the pages shows on the fans' walls automatically. The existing research about Facebook fan pages either explored the driving forces behind the popularity of fan pages from a psychological perspective (de Vries, Gensler, & Leeflang, 2012; Lin & Lu, 2011), or investigated the strategies to attract fans and increase fan base from a business perspective (Jahn & Kunz, 2012; Jeanjean, 2012). However, little is known about fans as eWOM has spread so far. Understanding fans of fan pages is significant for us to understand eWOM communication and marketing communication online.

Brand fan page is a unique phenomenon built upon social media, which is considered a greatly simulated environment for WOM marketing because of its community and interactive characteristics. Although online customer reviews have been proved as effective eWOM in marketing (Barton, 2006; "Survey: 48 percent of retail websites not offering product ratings reviews," 2012), scholars believe that social eWOM based on social media has greater potential in effective marketing than online customer reviews (Pai & Tsai, 2011). However, the study about eWOM credibility (Hu & Ha, 2013) indicated that social eWOM was not as dependable as online customer reviews at present. Therefore, the authors asked the following questions: Is social media eWOM really an effective marketing tool? What kind of WOM, either traditional or electronic, do people prefer when shopping online? Additionally, scholars found that, during e-commerce transactions, different product settings (search and experience products) affected people's beliefs in different recommendation sources (Benlian, Titah, & Hess, 2012). Thus, the author further analyzed product type and examined whether it moderated the effect of different types of WOM (both traditional and electronic) on people's choices of online shopping sources.

We first presented a literature review on fan pages and eWOM, investigating fans of Facebook fan pages and highlighting the differences between fans and non-fans. To examine the acceptance of social network sites as eWOM, the authors moderated product type in the model of people's preferences for WOM type. Discussion about the role of fans and eWOM was presented.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Word of Mouth (WOM) & Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM)

Brand fan pages are important online bases on which brands can engage their customers and enhance their loyalty. However, fans play more important roles-gathering potential customers-because their Tikes' and comments on posts of brand pages are automatically shown in their news feeds, which directly become eWOM. eWOM is an electronic version of oral communication shared among people regarding their consumption experience of products and services. WOM was the recommended communication between receivers and communicators, whom receivers perceived as independent from retailers (Arndt, 1967; Breazeale, 2009). The commercial value of WOM has been recognized since the 1920s (Butler, 1923). …

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