This study aims to evaluate elements of corporate communication in online communities (OCs) and their influence on corporate impression formation. Interactive online platforms such as OCs are growing. Companies are discovering their importance and increasingly include OCs in their communication activities. The present study identifies the underlying components relevant to successful corporate communication in OCs, and further explore if and how online community members (OCMs) expect companies to communicate with them, explaining how corporate impressions are formed.
A qualitative research method was chosen, consisting of two stages. In stage one, 17 expert interviews with academics and practitioners were conducted, and in stage two, 12 OCMs were interviewed to clarify the concepts and gain new insights.
The study gains new knowledge relating to corporate communication in OCs and image formation. Specifically, the authors identify and confirm important key constructs in corporate impression formation in OCs, namely, relevance of messages, communication style, social context cues, affiliation, perceived similarity, source credibility and interpersonal communication. Furthermore, a conceptual model is proposed on the relationship between communication elements relevant in online communities and their influence on corporate impression.
The study helps to refine existing concepts of corporate impression formation in OCs. It is suggested that understanding how corporate impression is formed in OCs helps companies to participate in virtual networks, improving their corporate impression.
This study extends prior findings on word-of-mouth on the Internet (word-of-mouse) to demonstrate that communication among virtual community (VC) members can influence the image formation process, such that positive word-of-mouse has a positive effect on corporate image.
Hallier Willi, C., Nguyen, B., Melewar, T. and Dennis, C. (2014), "Corporate impression formation in online communities: a qualitative study", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 410-440. https://doi.org/10.1108/QMR-07-2013-0049Download as .RIS
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