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Building brand loyalty through user engagement in online brand communities in social networking sites

Xiabing Zheng (School of Management, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, China)
Christy M. K. Cheung (Department of Finance and Decision Sciences, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong)
Matthew K.O. Lee (Department of Information Systems, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
Liang Liang (School of Management, University of Science and Technology of China, Heifei, China)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 2 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the concept of user engagement in the context of online brand communities. A research model is proposed to explain how brand loyalty is developed through user engagement.

Design/methodology/approach

The research model was empirically tested with an online survey study of 185 current Facebook users.

Findings

Results revealed that user engagement influenced brand loyalty both directly and indirectly through online community commitment. Users tend to focus on the benefits (rather than the costs) derived from the usage when they engage in an online brand community.

Research limitations/implications

The selection of respondents is bound to the Hong Kong area, while Facebook members are globally distributed. In addition, this study involved a cross-sectional design instead of investigating the development of brand loyalty from a long-term perspective.

Practical implications

The results inform e-marketers the importance of user engagement behaviors for building brand loyalty through online communities. Strategies that encourage members to engage in online brand communities on social networking sites such as Facebook are also provided.

Originality/value

The concept of user engagement in online brand communities is still poorly understood, underscoring the need for theoretically based research of user engagement. This paper enriches the knowledge in the area of brand engagement by presenting a research model that introduces the concept of user engagement in social media research and empirically examines its role in building brand loyalty in online brand communities.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge with gratitude the generous support of the Hong Kong Baptist University for the project (FRG2/12-13/015) without which the timely production of the current report/publication would not have been feasible.

Citation

Zheng, X., Cheung, C.M.K., Lee, M.K.O. and Liang, L. (2015), "Building brand loyalty through user engagement in online brand communities in social networking sites", Information Technology & People, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 90-106. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-08-2013-0144

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited