Trust Inducing Factors of Generation Y Blog-Users

By Colucci, Cara; Cho, Erin | International Journal of Design, December 2014 | Go to article overview

Trust Inducing Factors of Generation Y Blog-Users


Colucci, Cara, Cho, Erin, International Journal of Design


Introduction

Blogs are generally defined as chronological publications of personal thoughts and web links that are traditionally text-based, but also include a variety of audio and visual formats (Chai & Kim, 2010). Blogging activities on the Internet have dramatically increased in recent years, as people and organizations alike use blogs to share, spread, and formulate information and opinions. For example, about 181 million blogs were available on the World Wide Web in December 2011 as compared to approximately three million blogs in 2004 (Nielsen, 2012). In 2010, a new blog was created every second, making the blogosphere, as it has since been termed, sixty times larger in 2010 than it was in 2007 (Technorati, 2011). Blogs are now recognized as one of the most powerful forms of media and a highly influential communication tool for the 21st century.

The surge of online blogging, often cited to have begun sometime in 2004, also coincides with the coming of age of a large portion of Generation Y to young adulthood. This overlap makes blogs significantly relevant to the digitally-connected lives of this demographic. The information provided by blogs, specifically in the form of peer recommendations, is particularly influential for Generation Y, and is often valued over expert opinions (Williams, Page, Petrosky, & Hernandez, 2010). As Generation Y becomes the dominant consumer base in the marketplace (Park & Lee, 2005), effectively designing and managing blog communication tailored to this demographic should be of significant interest to design managers.

Despite the growing significance of blog communication, there is only a sparse amount of research on the topic of blog trust that has been conducted in a systematic way. While a collection of opinion-based web articles has attempted to discuss blog trust from a subjective point of view (e.g., Gothly, 2014), they are mostly concerned with increasing the marketing efforts of the blogger. Furthermore, past literature on design management has been centered on examining how a firm better develops and distributes its products and services to its consumers, with little discussion focused on how design management can increase the effectiveness of individual consumer offerings to peer consumers. While existing research does discuss trust and knowledge-sharing from the viewpoint of the blogger (e.g., Chai & Kim, 2010), as well as the general importance of blog trust on user behavior (e.g., Wu & Lee, 2012), little attention has been paid to understanding the specific parameters that constitute blog trust in the eyes of the blog reader.

This study seeks to identify and define those parameters. To do so, we investigate specific factors that blog readers rely on when making a trust judgment about a blog. We also test the extent to which blog trust affects the reader's intention to stay with the blog in the future and the reader's willingness to refer the blog to others. Given the lack of comprehensive research on this issue, we first began by conducting an exploratory study using a qualitative method of personal interviews, followed by a quantitative survey method to validate findings. The results of this study provide design managers with specific information on how to increase readers' trust of blog communications, blog-user retention, and user recommendations, all of which should contribute to the successful management of blog activities.

Conceptual Framework

Defining Generation Y in the Context of Technology

A critical element of design management is understanding the target segment. To better understand why Generation Y responds to the blogging community, a definition of this generation and an understanding of the attitudes and interests unique to this generation is necessary.

Although there is room for subjectivity, it is generally agreed that Generation Y (also known as the Millennial Generation, Net Generation, or Echo Boomers) comprise the demographic cohort that followed Generation X and are born between the mid 1970s and mid 1990s (Advertising Age, 1993; Horovitz, 2012). …

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