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The impact of language style accommodation during social media interactions on brand trust

Ana Jakic (Institute of Marketing, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany)
Maximilian Oskar Wagner (Institute of Marketing, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany)
Anton Meyer (Institute of Marketing, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany)

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Article publication date: 19 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Social media encourage interactions between customers and brands. Concerning the cues utilized during social media interactions, verbal cues (i.e. the language used) gain importance, since non-verbal and paraverbal cues are hard to convey via social media. Looking at interpersonal interactions, interlocutors adopt each other’s language styles or maintain their own language style during interactions to build trust. Transferring these insights to social media, the purpose of this paper is to test the effects of a brand’s language style accommodation in brand-customer interactions on brand trust and on its antecedents.

Design/methodology/approach

Two quantitative pre-studies (n1 (questionnaire)=32, n2 (laboratory experiment)=199), and one quantitative main study (n3 (laboratory experiment)=427) were conducted to determine the effects of a brand’s language style accommodation on brand trust.

Findings

In line with communication accommodation theory, this paper reveals that the impact of a brand’s accommodation strategy on brand trust is mediated by perceived relationship investments, such as perceived interaction effort, benevolence, and quality of interaction. This paper also underscores language style’s roles and its fit, and sheds light on situational factors such as purchase decision involvement and the valence of the content.

Originality/value

This paper is the first to transfer cross-disciplinary theories on interpersonal interactions to brand-customer interactions in social media. Thus, the authors derive the effects of language style accommodation on brand trust as well as further mediating effects.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper forms part of a special section colloqium on relationship marketing.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 24th International Colloquium on Relationship Marketing (ICRM) held in Toulouse, France from September 6 to 8, 2016. Dr Andreas Munzel, Associate Professor of Marketing at the IAE Toulouse School of Management, Université Toulouse 1 Capitole, France served as the Special Section Guest Editor for this paper.

Citation

Jakic, A., Wagner, M.O. and Meyer, A. (2017), "The impact of language style accommodation during social media interactions on brand trust", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 418-441. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOSM-12-2016-0325

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited