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Examining the dilution of the consumer-brand relationship on Facebook: the saturation issue

Zahy Ramadan (Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Article publication date: 12 June 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

Brands have been progressively using social networking sites, namely, Facebook, as part of their strategy to engage their consumers and ultimately build long-term relationships with them. Nonetheless, with the overuse of “engagement ads” by brands, saturation related to information overload is expected to be reached leading to the dilution of the consumer–brand relationship. The purpose of this paper is to fill a gap in the literature which has predominantly focused on the positive side of social networking sites, and hence still lacks a thorough understanding of the potential risks brands face when using Facebook. Accordingly, this research examines the different risks brands would be facing from saturated consumers on social networking sites such as Facebook.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative study was conducted, with a total of 40 respondents using face-to-face semi-structured interviews over two stages. While the first stage of the study focused on examining the saturation risk and its potential negative effects, the second one explored these risks specifically on the consumer–brand relationship on Facebook. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and then coded for analysis using NVivo 8.

Findings

Brands are overloading their followers with passively endorsed brand messages, which are negatively affecting consumers’ experience on Facebook, as well as the relationship with these brands. This overall dilution of the consumer–brand relationship on Facebook was hence found to be affecting interaction, similarity with friends, the system quality of the social networking site, as well as information quality. Furthermore, this dilution was found to be affecting brand likability, brand trust and brand association.

Originality/value

The negative implications are still scarcely examined in the literature where social media engagement is predominantly discussed through a positive lens. Hence, this study has the peculiarity of discussing the risks that companies would face with Facebook’s engagement model along with their implications on the consumer-brand relationship.

Keywords

Citation

Ramadan, Z. (2017), "Examining the dilution of the consumer-brand relationship on Facebook: the saturation issue", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 335-353. https://doi.org/10.1108/QMR-07-2016-0064

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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