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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Special issue on “Marketing and social media
Article Type: Guest editorial From: Management Research Review, Volume 35, Issue 9
Firms are increasingly emphasizing digital/internet marketing as an important component of their promotional mix – and social media marketing has become a crucial aspect of that digital presence. The popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace, MeetUp, LinkedIn, and Twitter has grown exponentially in recent years and is changing how word-of-mouth (WOM) effects need to be considered. Most major companies now incorporate such vehicles as blogs, Facebook fan pages, and Twitter accounts in an attempt to generate company interest and pass along product information.
The explosion of social media has created many opportunities for marketers, including the establishment of new customer services, new promotional mechanisms, and new channels for building relationships with suppliers, partners, and customers. Social media also poses new challenges, such as privacy concerns, message oversight and management, and widespread information-sharing. In the face of these challenges and opportunities, little is known regarding the specific motivations, attitudes, and consumer behaviors that constitute the essential component to such a strategy.
The need for additional scholarly research in this important area has served as the impetus that led to our special issue on “Marketing and Social Media.” In this issue, we begin with a conceptual piece by Petty which addresses the legal ramifications of social media marketing. The paper examines some common risks posed by social media to brand marketers, and proposes a “three M’s” framework for identifying those risks and using the law to address them. That article is followed by six empirical studies which address both:
(a) the overall benefits to the firm of employing a social media program, as well as
(b) the specific characteristics of that program and/or online platform usage that facilitate successful outcomes.
At the broadest level, Bruhn, Schoenmuller, and Schäfer investigate the relative impact of brand communication on brand equity through social media as compared to traditional media. Across three industries, they find that although traditional media has a stronger impact on brand awareness, social media communications strongly influence brand image. Further, firm-created social media communication is shown to have an important impact on functional brand image, whereas user-generated social media communication exerts a major influence on hedonic brand image.
Three of our manuscripts, then, focus upon the effectiveness of a particular type of social media – that is, blog postings. Interestingly, while Brengman and Karimov find that e-retailers may foster perceptions of integrity through the use of text-blogs, Tran, Strutton, and Taylor find evidence to suggest that promotional messages delivered through microblog postings can exercise an overall negative influence on consumers’ e-servicescape perceptions. As a possible explanation for these somewhat mixed results, Doyle et al. report that although a blogger’s authoritative knowledge can negatively impact trust intentions, trust formation is predicted by the blogger’s engagement knowledge, unique reading experiences, and the belief that the blog improved the marketspace.
Finally, two manuscripts examine social media marketing from a consumer behavior perspective. Gummerus et al. define customer engagement in a Facebook brand community in terms of community engagement behaviors and transactional engagement behaviors. They then identify three relationship benefits (i.e. social, entertainment, and economic), and find that engagement behaviors largely influence the benefits received. Further, both social and entertainment benefits lead to satisfaction and loyalty. Coulter and Roggeveen find that both the size of the social network community as well as its inherent makeup (i.e. whether friends are members) can signal potential benefits, and therefore contribute toward whether of not consumers progress through the traditional hierarchy of effects.
In sum, the articles contained herein investigate social media marketing from a number of different perspectives. We are grateful to the Editor of Management Research Review, Joseph Sarkis, as well as to the entire Emerald Group Publishing team for allowing us the opportunity to put this issue together. Their support during the process proved invaluable. We are also grateful to the team of expert Reviewers who so graciously donated their time and efforts to this project, as well as to the group of authors who have chosen Management Research Review as an outlet for their work.
Keith S. CoulterAssociate Professor of Marketing at the Graduate School of Management, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA