Companies are now using social network sites (SNSs) within their marketing and brand-building activities. Twitter is the preferred SNS for creating brand communities, which offer companies many advantages. The purpose of this paper is to examine how individuals manage their competing needs for being affiliated (operationalized as personal and communal-brand connections) and for being seen as distinctive (operationalized as need for uniqueness (NFU)) when they are members of brand communities on Twitter. The authors have also analysed which type of brand community is able to achieve the balance between both needs, enhancing identification with the brand community.
A total of 318 valid responses were collected from three camera brand communities on Twitter. Messages (“tweets”) which included a link to an online questionnaire were sent to community members via Twitter. The authors examine the proposed model using structural equation modelling.
The authors demonstrate that consumers can satisfy their need for affiliation in brand communities created in Twitter. However, consumers can only reach a balance between the need for affiliation and the need for distinctiveness in brand communities built around niche brands. In contrast, the two needs work in opposition to shape identification in brand communities of big brands.
Optimal distinctiveness theory is used as a theoretical background for proposing how the antecedents of identification with the brand community enhance brand loyalty, with reference to the conflict between the individual’s needs for both distinctiveness and affiliation. Consumers’ identification with the brand community is proposed as a mediator to achieve brand loyalty in brand communities. Consumers reach this balance in brand communities built around a niche brand, where individuals with high NFU feel a high identification with the brand community. For big brands, as consumers’ NFU increases, their identification with the brand community and brand loyalty decreases.
This research was supported by the grant ECO2012-35766 from the Spanish Ministry of Economics and Competitiveness and by the Fundación Séneca-Agencia de Ciencia y Tecnología de la Región de Murcia (Spain), under the II PCTRM 2007-2010.
López, M., Sicilia, M. and Moyeda-Carabaza, A.A. (2017), "Creating identification with brand communities on Twitter: The balance between need for affiliation and need for uniqueness", Internet Research, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 21-51. https://doi.org/10.1108/IntR-12-2013-0258
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