Digital live streaming applications, combined with the broadcasting of cross-modal, video-mediated communication in the social networking community, have grown in popularity in recent years. A theoretical gap exists regarding a comprehensive framework that explains hardcore viewer engagement through the social exchanges in digital live streaming communities. Traditional viewers engaged with a single-dimensional focal object, but nowadays, viewers interact with multidimensional and multiobjects through the social exchanges (e.g. virtual gifts, emotional supports) in live streaming digital communities. This study aims to address this void in the marketing literature of hardcore viewer engagement under dynamic social exchanges in digital live streaming communities.
This research used a qualitative approach. The data collections were from October 2018 to January 2020. Data were collected in semistructured interviews with 17 Media 21 hardcore viewers.
The outcomes of hardcore viewer engagement and social exchange include three main stages: introduction, immersion and enthusiasm. It indicates that loyalty and active hardcore viewer–streamer relationships were fostered through the process of hardcore viewer engagement and social exchange with multiple objects and dimensions.
There are three main implications to the literature in this study. First, this empirical study extends the concept of consumer engagement to hardcore viewer engagement, and social exchange is found to trigger social behavior and relations in a digital live streaming community. Second, it contributes to the social media community literature. Hardcore viewer engagement provides a broad dimensional scope to examine digital live streaming community participation by integrating the cognitive, affective and behavioral aspects. Finally, it contributes to the literature of social exchange theory. It indicates that the extension of hardcore viewer–streamer social relationships is not restricted to traditional mass media but can be fostered in digital live streaming communities.
It contributes to the consumer engagement literature by exploring in depth viewer engagement dimensionality in a rich digital live streaming context. This study proposed a framework for understanding the stages and outcomes of viewer engagement and parasocial interactions according to three dimensions and multiple objects, which lacked empirical validation in previous studies.
This study also contributes to the social media community literature. In capturing the functions of such groups, the variables of interest were “participation,” “involvement” and “membership.” These variables were determined through behavioral actions or intentions. In contrast, viewer engagement provided a broad dimensional scope to examine digital live streaming community participation by integrating the cognitive, affective and behavioral aspects.
The findings of this study indicate that the extension of parasocial relationships is not restricted to traditional mass media but can be fostered in digital live streaming communities that are designed to bring the viewer close to streamer(s), community members and system functions and activities. Although digital live streaming applications differ from traditional parasocial interaction environments because they offer direct, instantaneous, multiple communication among streamer(s), system functions and community members, the findings of the present study indicate that viewer–streamer–viewer parasocial relationships established both online and offline are often interwoven.
The author extends her appreciation to the anonymous reviewers of Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, the associate editor and the editor of their insightful comments.
Funding: This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taiwan [MOST 108-2410-H-155-033-MY2].
Chen, C.-P. (2023), "Hardcore viewer engagement and social exchange with streamers and their digital live streaming communities", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 37-57. https://doi.org/10.1108/QMR-06-2021-0074
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