Effective marketing outcomes of hotel Facebook pages: The role of active participation and satisfaction

Juhee Kang (Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA)

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights

ISSN: 2514-9792

Publication date: 14 May 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of overall satisfaction in the relationship between active participation and consumer behaviors that benefit hotels. It also addresses the importance of active members in estimating the effectiveness of online brand communities in social media marketing.

Design/methodology/approach

This study used a convenient sampling method to collect data from individuals who were or currently are members of hotel Facebook pages. The empirical data were analyzed using structural equation modeling.

Findings

The findings indicate that active members are likely to be satisfied with community participation and developed positive behaviors that benefit hotel Facebook pages, specifically willingness to promote the community to others and modify purchasing and information-searching behaviors.

Practical implications

This study provides practical implications for Facebook marketers of hotels. It emphasizes the value of Facebook pages as an effective marketing tool for hotels. Marketers are advised to identify members’ needs, create special offerings that accommodate those needs, and effectively communicate and share information with members in order to increase the level of satisfaction of members of online communities.

Originality/value

The importance of active participation and satisfaction for creating positive behaviors other than loyalty among members of hotel Facebook pages has been under-addressed. This study extends the existing research model of community participation in consumer-brand relationships by using satisfaction, community promotion, and behavioral changes to highlight the benefits of hotel Facebook pages.

Keywords

Citation

Kang, J. (2018), "Effective marketing outcomes of hotel Facebook pages", Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 106-120. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHTI-10-2017-0003

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited


Introduction

Online brand communities enable companies to facilitate two-way communication with consumers. The primary goals of such communities are to engage with loyal consumers, improve consumers’ perceptions about brands, disseminate brand information, and collaborate with consumers, whereas consumers aim to gain a variety of benefits through participation in the community (Algesheimer et al., 2005; Schau et al., 2009). Social media, as a platform for online brand communities, has received much attention from companies for marketing and branding purposes (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010). Sigala (2012) addressed the importance of social media as an effective marketing tool to deepen consumer engagement and enhance the brands’ relationships with consumers. Therefore, it is no surprise that hotels establish or enhance their presence on social media for marketing purposes and consumer engagement (Chan and Guillet, 2011; Leung et al., 2017).

Among many other social media platforms (e.g. Instagram and Twitter), Facebook is most widely used for hotels’ online communities as it has 2 billion monthly active users worldwide (Statista, 2017). Consumers can use hotels’ Facebook pages to learn information about the hotels and leave reviews, while hotels can use their pages as marketing tools (McCarthy et al., 2010; Hsu, 2012). According to O’Connor (2011), most of the major hotel brands built their own Facebook pages. Effective Facebook management can provide hotels enhanced competitiveness, good reputation, and increased sales (Wang and Kubickova, 2017). However, many hotels face challenges regarding how to better manage their Facebook pages and the potential consumers they should target.

Member participation is a key factor affecting the prosperity of online communities (Paris et al., 2010). Researchers have distinguished activities driven by active and passive members of online communities (Ridings et al., 2006). Active members have deeper relationships with other members and connect with potential consumers (Shang et al., 2006). Once a community gains more active members than passive members, member and non-member traffic to the brand page increases and stays strong for longer periods (Preece, 2000). Although it has been proposed that active participation influences the success of online communities through positive attitude, commitment, word-of-mouth promotion, and loyalty to the community (e.g. Koh and Kim, 2004; Leung and Baloglu, 2015; Leung and Tanford, 2016), there is a relative dearth of research on how active participation leads to a successful online community. This study proposes community promotion and behavioral changes as the possible outcomes of active members of Facebook pages that may benefit hotels.

Satisfaction is measured by comparing consumers’ expectations with the business’s performance (Oliver, 1980). In an online community setting, satisfaction is considered as an overall evaluation of members’ experience with participation in the community and indicates the quality of relationships with other members and the company running the community (Casaló et al., 2010). Although much social media research has focused on the effects of motivation (Wang and Fesenmaier, 2003) and participation benefits (Leung and Tanford, 2016) on consumer-brand relationships within online communities, this study recognizes the lack of understanding of overall satisfaction and its consequences, particularly concerning the business value of online communities.

Online community research has mainly focused on two types of consumer behaviors: community-related (e.g. sharing knowledge and word-of-mouth promotion) and product-related (e.g. accepting comments/suggestions and purchasing products) behaviors (Qu and Lee, 2011). Facebook pages are consumer-based brand communities that help consumers to make balanced, objective evaluations of products and services (McCarthy et al., 2010). If consumers obtain valuable information and fulfill their need for interaction with other consumers with similar interests in products and services, they are more inclined to feel confident in their decision to join the community and participate in community activities (Qu and Lee, 2011). Satisfaction may cause members to volunteer to promote the community and may lead to behavioral changes regarding the information-finding and decision-making processes (Royo-Vela and Casamassima, 2011).

The primary goal of this study is to identify the relationship between active participation and consumer behaviors by measuring overall satisfaction with online community participation. The effects of participation in social media are not well understood, especially from companies’ point of view. Therefore, this study addresses two questions: Does active participation influence overall satisfaction with the social media experience? What are the positive behavioral consequences of satisfaction other than attitude, word-of-mouth promotion, and intention to visit? In order to answer these questions, this study empirically tests the relationships between active participation, overall satisfaction, community promotion, and behavioral changes.

Literature review

Online brand communities

Brand community is defined as “a specialized, and non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relationships among admirers of a brand” (Muniz and O’Guinn, 2001, p. 412). The community allows members to exchange information about their favorite brands, provide help to other consumers, and contribute to the perpetuity of brands (McAlexander et al., 2002). Therefore, consumers are likely to participate in brand communities where they can meet other people who are like-minded and fascinated by the same brand (Woisetschläger et al., 2008).

Brand communities provide a platform on which firms can engage with consumers (Dholakia et al., 2004). An increasing number of firms create brand communities as part of their brand management strategy (Arnone et al., 2010). Firms can expect a strong relationship with their consumers by offering superior experience of consumer engagement (McAlexander et al., 2002). According to Algesheimer et al. (2005), brand relationships have a strong influence in generating brand loyalty and community engagement, which result in long-term membership intentions.

The use of social media has become a popular medium for information search in the tourism and lodging industries (Sigala, 2012). Managers of brand communities strive to gain consumer attention and encourage consumer participation on their brand’s social media pages (Habibi et al., 2014). A firm’s brand page on social media is termed “online brand community (OBC).” Casaló et al. (2010) investigated consumer motivation to join online travel communities and explained their behavioral intentions based on the theory of planned behavior, technology acceptance model, and social identity theory. Leung and Baloglu (2015) examined the determinants of consumer attitude toward hotels’ Facebook pages and their intentions for booking and word-of-mouth. Leung et al. (2017) identified four types of hotels’ Facebook messages that ensure the effectiveness of social media marketing. Although much research has been conducted to draw effective marketing outcomes, little is known about the desirable outcomes to the firms and the determinants of the outcomes. The following sections introduce possible determinants of firm’s desirable outcomes in their brand communities.

Active participation in brand communities

The primary goals of brand communities are to build relationships with consumers, collect consumer profiles, and gain feedback about consumers’ experiences with the brand. Consumers are highly efficient brand agents within the community, and their active participation is important for the prosperity of OBCs (Muniz and O’Guinn, 2001). Thus, previous studies have emphasized consumer engagement, which refers to a consumer’s psychological state resulting from interacting and experiencing an object (i.e. a brand) and a subject (i.e. other consumers) (Brodie et al., 2013; Dessart et al., 2015). As a motivational construct for members’ intention to interact and cooperate with the community and others, consumer engagement has been understood as a key driver for consumer-brand relationships in OBCs (Woisetschläger et al., 2008).

Members’ active participation is a form of consumer engagement (Algesheimer et al., 2005). A variety of motivations for participation have been identified in previous studies: seeking help and finding information about particular products, improving knowledge and skills regarding product usage, fulfilling curiosity about products and learning about others’ experiences, and accepting social influence (Habibi et al., 2014; Shang et al., 2006). In this study, “active participation” refers to members’ active engagement with an online community resulting from intrinsic motivation to interact and cooperate with other members (Algesheimer et al., 2005).

The major behaviors of OBC members are posting and lurking (Casalo et al., 2007). Posting behaviors are considered active activities and may involve sharing personal stories/experiences, photos, or videos and supporting others’ posts through comments. Lurking behaviors, on the other hand, are considered passive behaviors such as scanning information (Shang et al., 2006). Consumers show different levels of community participation ranging from a few minutes to several hours per day. According to Habibi et al. (2014), the more actively the members participate in community activities, the more they will cooperate and interact with brands.

Satisfaction

Satisfaction refers to a positive affective status achieved from the entire purchase process, including pre- and post-purchase experiences (Severt, 2002). From a psychological perspective, satisfaction is derived from fulfilled promises by the company or the ease with which consumers can build relationships with the company (Casaló et al., 2007). Consumer satisfaction is largely influenced by the performance of service providers, customers’ prior experience with the service, confirmation of expectations, and ease of obtaining information about the service (Shankar et al., 2003). In a social media context, firms and consumers continuously interact with each other, which positively influences a firm’s performance and enhances consumer satisfaction when the expected benefits of community participation are achieved. Therefore, companies should provide precise information about available services and facilitate effective communication with community members.

Behavioral changes

Behavioral changes refer the degree to which members modify their consumption behaviors in terms of community values. Previous studies have argued that members’ active participation can be utilized to stimulate economic transactions and influence the process of information seeking (e.g. Balasubramanian and Mahajan, 2001; Cothrel, 2000). Qu and Lee (2011) indicated these behaviors as product-related behaviors. Companies will seek behavioral changes in purchasing behaviors because they can easily observe and assess how consumers make purchasing decisions (Cothrel, 2000). Because actual purchase behaviors can be hard to track, it is important for companies to understand changes in members’ purchasing behaviors so that they can evaluate the effectiveness of community management (Ahearne et al., 2005; Casaló et al., 2010).

Community promotion

Community promotion is defined as the degree to which community members are willing to provide word-of-mouth marketing for the community. In an online community, members highly rely on information shared by other members and distribute this information for the benefit of other members. These behaviors were termed “community-related behaviors” by Qu and Lee (2011). Members’ willingness to share their own consumption experiences and promote community services can maximize the success of online communities (Holland and Baker, 2001). Promotion behaviors are influenced by a close relationship between the community and members (Bettencourt, 1997; Bhattacharya et al., 1995). According to Gruen (1995), members who highly identify with a community are likely to voluntarily participate in promotion activities.

Hypotheses

Members’ active participation leads to an increase in highly profitable consumers (McWilliam, 2000). If members actively participate in community activities, they are more likely to behave in line with the community’s values. For example, active members more frequently exchange product information by sharing personal opinions and consumption experiences than do passive members (Koh and Kim, 2004). They are also more likely to accept and follow others’ opinions or suggestions when making purchase decisions (Kim et al., 2004). As members receive mutual support from other members and continuously achieve the expected consumption outcomes, they are likely to modify their communication and purchase behaviors (Ridings et al., 2006). Frequent active participation in OBCs, including posts to share one’s own stories, also enhances members’ knowledge about the brand and builds a strong consumer-brand relationship, which in turn leads to positive and favorable attitudes regarding the brand among active OBC members as well as positive behavioral changes (Shang et al., 2006); if consumers’ attitudes change, there is a high possibility that their behavior will change accordingly (Feng and Morrison, 2007). Thus, the following hypothesis is proposed:

H1.

Active participation has a positive effect on behavioral changes.

Consumer engagement was found to be positively related to outcomes of brand relationships, including satisfaction, affective commitment, and brand loyalty (Brodie et al., 2013). One of the major reasons that consumers join a brand community is to feel like part of the brand. Accordingly, members of brand communities likely believe that they have already built a relationship with the brand, which can be further enhanced by participation in an OBC (Algesheimer et al., 2005). Satisfaction in an online environment is derived from the benefits consumers gain while using online technologies, including convenience, the ability to save time and money, and useful information (Bansal et al., 2004). When those benefits are due to active participation, members are likely to feel positive emotional responses, such as enjoyment, excitement, and pleasure related to gathering and sharing brand-related information (Wolfinbarger and Gilly, 2001). As a result, members’ satisfaction due to being a part of an OBC is enhanced (Gummerus et al., 2012), leading to the following hypothesis:

H2.

Active participation has a positive effect on satisfaction.

Online communities function as a place for sharing information and interacting with others who have similar interests. Members are likely part of the community in order to obtain benefits and contribute to the community, sharing valued information with others and helping others who need assistance or guidance regarding product usage (Habibi et al., 2014; Shang et al., 2006). If actively participating members have information that can benefit others, they are likely to quickly disseminate the message (Koh and Kim, 2004). Further, they will encourage others, especially those who are not members of the community, to join and participate in the community (Habibi et al., 2014). Butler (2001) described these behaviors as help-giving behaviors and social support, which can also be referred to as community promotion. Thus, the following hypothesis is proposed:

H3.

Active participation has a positive effect on community promotion.

Satisfaction plays a significant role in measuring the quality of a relationship between consumers and a firm (Wulf and Odekerken-Schröder, 2001). Consumer satisfaction depends on consumers’ participation experience and information gathered from the community (Casaló et al., 2007). Members of an OBC can gain knowledge about a brand through active participation and foster their ability to evaluate its performance. Members that had a satisfactory experience with the brand are more likely to share their actual consumption experience in order to help others and are willing to support the brand. Kim et al. (2004) found that members of a travel community tend to consider other members’ recommendations when purchasing travel-related items because they perceive that information as valuable and reliable. Satisfaction with an OBC can also increase when consumers’ actual consumption experiences exceed their expectations, which in turn enhances consumers’ actual purchasing decision and willingness to share information about the product (Okleshen and Grossbart, 1998). Based on the above discussions, we propose the following hypothesis:

H4.

Satisfaction is positively related to behavioral changes.

Marketing literature has proven that there is a positive relationship between satisfaction and word-of-mouth/referral intentions (Wangenheim and Bayón, 2007; Zeithaml et al., 1996). Carpenter and Fairhurst (2005) noted that satisfied consumers have a high level of intention to engage in positive word-of-mouth advertising for the product and company. In OBCs, members not only post comments about particular products but also discuss recent consumption experiences, including the frequency with which they purchase products from the brand and their level of addiction to the company’s products (Royo-Vela and Casamassima, 2011). These advertising behaviors are enhanced among satisfied consumers who are actively engaged in the OBC (Reynolds and Arnolds, 2000). Therefore, we propose the following hypothesis:

H5.

Satisfaction is positively related to community promotion.

Facebook is an effective platform for online communities where fans can actively share a variety of information about a company, such as a hotel, regarding services and amenities. This study investigated active participation as an antecedent of member satisfaction and community promotion and behavior changes as consequences of member satisfaction with hotel Facebook pages. These are primary aspects of overall satisfaction that help guarantee the success of online communities. Figure 1 presents these relationships.

Methodology

Sample

The sample of this study included fans of hotel brand pages on Facebook. This study used a convenient sampling method through Qualtrics, an online marketing company in the USA, which is known for providing large and reliable potential panels (Brandon et al., 2014). In all, 1,070 potential panels who were at least 18 years of age and had experience being a member of a hotel’s Facebook page. To be verified as a fan of a hotel brand’s Facebook page, respondents were asked to provide the name of the hotel brand’s page of which they are a fan and indicate how long they have been a fan of the brand page. Only respondents who confirmed that they have been or currently are a fan of a hotel brand’s Facebook page were qualified to complete the questionnaire. Those that were qualified were asked to answer all questions based on their experiences with the brand page. After deleting 56 incomplete responses, a total of 213 responses were considered valid and used for data analysis. The usable response rate was 5.02 percent.

Measures

The questionnaire consisted of four sections including study measures and demographic information. Four constructs in this study’s theoretical model were measured with validated measurement scales from previous studies:

All the measurements were estimated using seven-point Likert-type scales ranging from 1 to 7 (from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”). In addition, demographic information was gathered such as gender, age, and education. Respondents were also asked to indicate the duration of being a fan of the hotel page, how many hours a person spends on Facebook pages, and how many memberships a person has on Facebook.

The initial questionnaire was reviewed by three professors whose research focuses on social media and four industry professionals who are marketing managers of well-known hotel brands. Based on their feedback, some items that were not relevant to online communities were revised or deleted. Minor changes were made to the research instrument in order to improve the readability of the questionnaire. A pilot survey was conducted with 45 fans of hotel Facebook pages. Cronbach’s α was conducted to check the reliability of the scales, which was greater than 0.7, meeting the standard cut-off value (Hair et al., 1998).

Data analysis

SPSS 18.0 and Amos 18.0 were used for data analysis of the proposed model. Because the proposed model includes multiple linear regressions, which need to be investigated simultaneously, structural equation modeling (SEM) was the proper method for data analysis (Nachtigall et al., 2003). To investigate the proposed hypotheses, this study utilized Anderson and Gerbing’s (1988) two-step approach: confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to validate the measurements of proposed constructs in the entire measurement model and SEM to ensure the proposed relationships between constructs.

Results

Descriptive statistics

Table I shows the demographic profile of the sample population. More than half of the respondents were male (52.1 percent). The majority of respondents were between 21 and 55 years of age (53.6 percent were between 21 and 40 years of age). More than half of the respondents had received undergraduate (32.5 percent) or graduate (28.4 percent) degrees. Although 69.5 percent of respondents indicated relatively short participation in hotel Facebook pages, most of them spent more than an hour per week checking hotel Facebook pages (73.4 percent) and had memberships with several hotels (72.9 percent).

CFA

The unidimensionality of the measurement scales for each construct and the model fit were validated by CFA. The CFA results revealed acceptable model fit: χ2 (57)=129.030, p=0.000, χ2/df=2.264, IFI=0.963, TLI=0.963, CFI=0.963, RMSEA=0.079. IFI, TLI, and CFI values indicated an acceptable fit, ranging from 0 to 1 (Byrne, 1998), and the RMSEA value ranged from 0.04 to 0.08 (Turner and Reisinger, 2001). The standardized factor loading values of each construct are presented in Table II. Statistically significant factor loadings were equal to or higher than 0.508 (p<0.001), with t-values (not shown in the table) ranging from 7.393 to 19.035.

The value of composite reliabilities confirmed the internal consistency of each construct. All of the composite reliability values were greater than 0.7, exceeding the threshold value (Hair et al., 1998).

The convergent and discriminant validity of the measurement scales are presented in Table III (Anderson and Gerbing, 1988). Convergent validity was confirmed by acceptable factor loadings (Table II) and average variance extracted (AVE) values higher than 0.50 (the standard value) for all constructs (Bagozzi and Yi, 1988; Fornell and Larcker, 1981).

Discriminant validity was measured by comparing the squared correlation (R2) value between a pair of concepts and the AVE for each construct (Fornell and Larcker, 1981). All of the squared correlation values (R2) between pairs of concepts were smaller than the AVE for each construct. Therefore, the discriminant validity of each construct was adequately verified.

Structural model

The fit of the structural equation model was estimated using AMOS and model fit indices, which revealed good fit (χ2 (57)=125.100, p=0.000, χ2/df=2.195, IFI=0.965, TLI=0.952, CFI=0.965, RMSEA=0.077). All of the fit indices aligned with standardized values; TLI, IFI, and CFI values ranged from 0 to 1 (Byrne, 1998), and RMSEA was lower than 0.08 (Turner and Reisinger, 2001).

The standardized path coefficient and relevant t-values are shown in Figure 2. All four hypotheses were supported, except H1 (β=0.105, t=1.107, p=0.268). The support for H2 (β=0.656, t=5.112, p<0.01) indicated a positive relationship between active participation and satisfaction. The support for H3 (β=0.242, t=2.730, p<0.05) indicated a positive relationship between active participation and community promotion. The support for H4 (β=0.770, t=5.319, p<0.01) indicated a positive relationship between satisfaction and behavior change. The support for H5 (β=0.704, t=4.999, p<0.01) indicated a positive relationship between satisfaction and community promotion.

Discussions and conclusions

The purpose of this study was to identify the relationships between active participation, overall satisfaction, and consumer behaviors such as community promotion and behavioral changes. The first two constructs are particularly useful for explaining members’ satisfaction regarding the expected benefits of active participation in online communities, while the latter accounts for changes in an individual’s thinking process and behaviors resulting from interaction with others. The findings of this study suggest that overall satisfaction increases the value of a hotel’s Facebook page for hotel managers, because satisfied members have presented positive willingness to take actions (i.e. behavior changes and community promotion) that benefit for OBCs and hotels. More specifically, active participation enhances members’ overall satisfaction with participating in the brand page, which eventually leads to successful online communities and benefits for hotels (e.g. Kim et al., 2004; Qu and Lee, 2011; Wang and Fesenmaier, 2004). Therefore, the managers of a hotel Facebook page should focus on activities that encourage members’ participation and increase members’ overall satisfaction.

The result of this study indicates that active participation is the key determinant of overall satisfaction with participation in a hotel’s Facebook page; active participation can lead to enhanced satisfaction with the hotel’s page (Gummerus et al., 2012). This suggests that hotels should pay attention to the extent to which members interact with each other and actively communicate with the hotel, especially about service failures and/or satisfaction with the hotel’s performance. When members obtain desired benefits, such as valuable information from online communities, they are more likely to experience overall satisfaction.

This study finds that active participation influences members’ intention to promote a hotel’s Facebook page to others. This indicates that active participation enhances social engagement with other members and influences their opinions about particular issues (Algesheimer et al., 2005; Bagozzi and Dholakia, 2002). As members increase their participation in OBC activities, members’ beliefs about the community’s values are enhanced. As a result, members will promote the community to others (Casaló et al., 2010). This result is supported by Andersen (2005), who found that OBC participation supports community promotion and increases member recruitment. Because word-of-mouth is a powerful method of persuasion, recommendations from other community members are likely to influence members’ behavior (Sen and Lerman, 2007; Smith et al., 2005).

The outcome behaviors of OBC participants reveal two different types of member behaviors within online communities. Community promotion is a community-related behavior, whereas behavioral changes are product-related behaviors. The results of this study show that overall satisfaction is more associated with behavioral changes (β=0.770) than community promotion (β=0.704). Members of a hotel Facebook page are more likely to change their information-searching and purchasing-behaviors when they are satisfied with their overall experiences within the OBC. Thus, satisfied members are likely to change the way they look for information, accept others’ comments and recommendations, and eventually make purchase decisions in a different way than they used to. In an OBC, members’ purchase decisions rely on the information they obtain from other members, particularly through discussions about product usage, consumption experiences, and comments about other products (Okleshen and Grossbart, 1998). Satisfaction with community participation can enhance members’ confidence in their decisions and ensure that they receive benefits from changing their behaviors. In summary, the more satisfied members are with the quality of their relationships with the OBC and other members, the more likely they are to change their behaviors.

In regard to the effect of satisfaction on community promotion, the findings of this study support the notion that highly satisfied members contribute to the success of community through community promotion behaviors (Bansal et al., 2004; Qu and Lee, 2011; Royo-Vela and Casamassima, 2011). As members of a hotel Facebook page experience high levels of satisfaction, they are inclined to participate in the hotel’s marketing campaign by voluntarily disseminating promotion messages and inviting others to the OBC. Satisfied members act as community representatives by building good reputation for and promoting the interests of the community (Kang et al., 2007). Thus, satisfaction causes members to promote the OBC to others, increasing the popularity and prosperity of the community.

In summary, the findings emphasize the bridging role of overall satisfaction between active participation and members’ community- and product-related behaviors. The results show that active participation on hotel Facebook pages enhances satisfaction by providing reliable information and expected benefits, consequently generating voluntary promotional behaviors and influencing consumers’ information-searching and decision-making behaviors.

Theoretical implications

This study contributes to the theoretical body of knowledge about consumer behaviors and hotel Facebook pages in two ways. First, previous studies in OBC have measured consumers’ participation based on the duration of user participation in social media (log-in hours) and frequency of visiting online communities, which can overlook the degree of member involvement (e.g. Shang et al., 2006; Wang and Fesenmaier, 2004). This is one of the few studies to utilize comprehensive scales that can accurately capture the true meaning of active participation. In this way, researchers can better understand the level of member engagement and evaluate the influence of active participation on hotel Facebook pages and members’ overall satisfaction. Therefore, this study emphasizes the role of active participation in the success of an OBC.

The second contribution of this study is highlighting the role of overall satisfaction in the relationship between members’ active participation and desirable future behaviors. Previously, the role of satisfaction in developing proactive consumer behaviors has not been addressed in depth. As members are satisfied with OBC activities, they are more likely to interact with other members and contribute to the community. Based on the findings of this study, future research examining online communities should investigate the typology of Facebook members who can actively and effectively participate in hotels’ marketing campaigns and who modify their purchasing- and information-searching behaviors. Therefore, this study assures that overall satisfaction is a means to gain effective marketing outcomes in OBCs.

Lastly, this study proposes more practical marketing outcomes of OBCs than community loyalty and intention to join OBCs by applying organizational citizenship behaviors (i.e. community promotion and behavior changes) to OBC context (Kang et al., 2007). The results shed light on how consumers’ community- and product-related behaviors increase the success of online communities over time. Thus, community members’ positive and beneficial behaviors were added to the existing literature.

Practical implications

This study has practical implications for hotel Facebook page marketers. Marketers should realize that active members of OBCs are important and can help guarantee the success of Facebook marketing. Because they are willing to devote time and effort to support the OBC and persuade others to join the Facebook page, they can be considered voluntary brand ambassadors. Moreover, they may be favored consumers whose information-searching behaviors and purchasing behaviors were changed due to participation in the Facebook page.

In order to attract these members to the OBC, marketers should present their special care for the members of hotel Facebook pages and focus on enhancing the overall satisfaction with the OBC experience. Because community membership and participation are voluntary, members can easily end the relationship if they are not satisfied with the benefits of interacting with other members and the company. In addition to enhancing the quality of conversations among members and providing exclusive information for community members, Facebook marketers can establish a private page with limited access which will distinguish active and loyal members from general members. A special attention given to those active members will be helpful in developing affective links between members and OBCs. This can help hotels to reduce the marketing costs of maintaining existing relationships with consumers.

Marketers should have a clear understanding of OBCs as a potential advertising platform. Because members are already in favor of hotel brands, satisfied OBC experience may induce positive attitude toward advertising campaigns and result in increasing intention to promote the campaign and the community. Marketers should use upcoming technologies that enable members to easily share and distribute information. In addition, hotels need to develop an integrated marketing model of OBCs that can encourage members’ visit to hotel Facebook pages and boost the efficiency of transactions (e.g. offering private sales or special deals in advance). Based on the history of members’ performance, marketers are advised to analyze their level of engagement, which can help them create different types of target segments among active members of OBCs.

Limitations and Future research

This study has several limitations that can be overcome in future studies. First, this study only focused on active participation and its influence on consumer behaviors that are valuable to companies. Future studies need to consider the influence of passive participants on the success of online communities and may suggest a way to convert those individuals into active participants. Second, this study did not limit the type of hotels whose Facebook pages were investigated, although different types of hotels may put varying amounts of effort into OBCs. Third, this study only considers satisfaction as a key determinant of positive consumer behaviors (i.e. community promotion and behavioral changes). Future studies can test additional constructs (e.g. community identification and sense of belonging) that could also influence the effectiveness of social media marketing.

Figures

Conceptual model

Figure 1

Conceptual model

Structural model

Figure 2

Structural model

Demographic information

Demographic characteristics Frequency Percentage
Gender
Male 101 52.1
Female 93 47.9
Age
18-20 years old 10 5.2
21-30 59 30.7
31-40 44 22.9
41-55 54 28.1
Over 55 25 13.0
Education
High school or less 35 18.0
Associate degree 36 18.6
Bachelor degree 63 32.5
Graduate degree 55 28.4
Other 5 2.6
Duration of membership in Facebook hotel fan community
Less than 12 months 141 69.5
12-24 months 51 25.1
Over 25months 11 5.4
Average hours spent per week on Facebook pages
Less than 1 hour 54 26.6
1- 5 hours 126 62.1
6-10 hours 16 7.9
More than 10 hours 7 3.4
Number of Facebook page memberships
1 membership 55 27.1
2-5 memberships 107 52.7
6-10 memberships 20 9.9
More than 10 memberships 21 10.3

Measurement scales for all constructs

Construct Standardized factor loadings Composite reliabilities Cronbach’s α
Active participation 0.866 0.896
I take an active part in the xxx Facebook page 0.830
I usually provide useful information to other members 0.849
In general, I post messages and responses in the xxx Facebook page with great enthusiasm and frequency 0.828
I do my best to stimulate the xxx Facebook page 0.801
Satisfaction 0.700 0.768
Overall, I am satisfied with my experience in xxx hotel Facebook page 0.871
I am sure I made the correct decision in joining xxx hotel Facebook page 0.582
I have obtained several benefits derived from joining xxx hotel Facebook page 0.508
Community Promotion 0.923 0.935
I invite my close acquaintances to join xxx hotel Facebook page 0.886
I often talk to people about benefits of joining xxx hotel Facebook page 0.888
I often introduce my peers or friends to xxx hotel Facebook page 0.908
Behavioral Changes 0.888 0.898
xxx hotel Facebook page has influenced how I make a hotel reservation 0.909
The way I search for information about hotel services has changed as a result of being xxx hotel Facebook page 0.859
My xxx hotel Facebook page has influenced my purchasing behavior 0.784

AVE and correlation matrix

1 2 3 4
1. Active Participation 0.683a 0.345c 0.491 0.375
2. Satisfaction 0.587b 0.602 0.564 0.540
3. Community Promotion 0.701 0.751 0.799 0.584
4. Behavioral Changes 0.612 0.735 0.764 0.726

Notes: aEntries on the diagonal is AVE; bcorrelations are below the diagonal; csquared correlations are above the diagonal

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Corresponding author

Juhee Kang can be contacted at: juhee.kang@ucf.edu