m-WOM in a brand’s Facebook fan page

Date13 November 2017
Publication Date13 November 2017
AuthorSilvia Sanz-Blas,Enrique Bigné,Daniela Buzova
SubjectLibrary & information science,Information behaviour & retrieval,Collection building & management,Bibliometrics,Databases,Information & knowledge management,Information & communications technology,Internet,Records management & preservation,Document management
m-WOM in a brands Facebook
fan page
Silvia Sanz-Blas, Enrique Bigné and Daniela Buzova
Department of Marketing, Faculty of Economics,
University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to analyse the impact of the following variables: brand fan page
dependency; parasocial interaction; attitude towards brand fan pages in enhancing usersparticipation in
Facebook as a mobile social network (m-WOM).
Design/methodology/approach An empirical study was carried out by means of online interviews with
structured questionnaires. To analyse the data, and estimate the hypothesised relationships in the theoretical
model, the partial least squares equation modelling was used.
Findings The results of the study indicate that accessing brandsmobile Facebook fan pages can satisfy
the needs of understanding, orientation and play. These needs, in turn, influence usersattitude, as well as
their active and passive participation. Besides, usersactive participation in brandsfan pages is enhanced by
the direct and positive influence of attitude and passive participation.
Practical implications This research enables brands to know which aspects to highlight in their
communicationstrategies in orderto increase the users active participationand generate m-WOM.Brands need
to post informationwhich is not only relevant, but also entertaining and visually attractive.Furthermore, they
should foster the user-brand interaction to achieve usersengagementwith the brand.
Originality/value The contribution of the present research is threefold. First, it offers a new perspective in
explaining eWOM participation in mobile settings based on social networks. Second, it is argued that
dependency is a key driver in explaining m-WOM. Lastly, integrating parasocial integration in the authors
model highlights the communication nature of the word-of-mouth process.
Keywords Facebook, Attitude, Active participation, m-eWOM, Media system dependency,
Parasocial interaction
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Online social networks are virtual communities where users interact with others, even with
people they do not know, sharing information, experiences, videos, pictures, etc. about
organisations, brands, products and services with which they are in contact, and thus
improving social interaction (Liao et al., 2015; Currás-Pérez et al., 2013; Hsiao, 2010;
Ruiz-Mafé et al., 2014; Wang et al., 2010).
Electronic word-of-mouth on social sites is a driver of consumer behaviour (Babićet al., 2016).
Facebook is the major social network with over 1.8 billion users worldwide (Statista, 2016).
The daily active users on Facebook were 1.23 billion at the end of 2016, which represents
an increase of 18 per cent in comparison with the previous year according to the Fourth
Quarter and Full Year 2016 Facebook Report (Facebook, 2017). While it is true that
Facebook started as a social media vehicle for personal use, nowadays it has become a powerful
marketing communication tool for companies and organisations with more than 60 million
businesses having a Facebook fan page (Adweek, 2016). Thus, Facebook is becoming a
powerful tool for communication, participation, engagement and recommendation of
products and services among consumers, a powerful online platform on which a community
can be created.
Online social networks have been increasingly accessed via mobile phones (Kuittinen, 2013),
which augurs well for the future and success of mobile technology. In this regard, Marketing
Science Institute (2016) has issued a call for research on the impact of mobile technology
Online Information Review
Vol. 41 No. 7, 2017
pp. 936-953
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/OIR-08-2016-0237
Received 30 August 2016
Revised 26 April 2017
Accepted 8 July 2017
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
This work was supported by the Ministry of Economy (Spain) under Grant ECO2014-53837R.
on social networks. It should be noted that the number of mobile daily active users on
Facebook exceeded 1.15 billion at the end of 2016 (an interannual growth rate of 23 per cent as
compared to 2015). Moreover, it is expected that in 2018 mobile phones will be the major
channel to access the internet in the 34 leading world markets, thus beating any other device
(Zenith Optimedia and Global Web Index,2015). Therefore, mobile technologyis becoming an
essential tool for managing the relationships between users and brands, which calls for new
research (Ostrom et al., 2015).
Mobile Facebook is, therefore, a symbiosis between probably two of the most
revolutionizing phenomena of the new communications media ecosystem: the mobile phone
and online social networks (Kuittinen, 2013). The combination of both phenomena,
recognised as mobile eWOM, m-WOM, is changing not only the consumption patterns and
the use of communications media, but also the way in which consumers relate to each other
and to different brands.
Though Facebook and mobile technologies have received considerable attention in the
research literature, few previous investigations have focussed on the joint analysis of both
variables: mobile Facebook (Ha et al., 2015). Although extensive research has been carried
out on eWOM, previously published studies have failed to address the integrative theories
of communication (such as media dependency theory and parasocial interaction theory) and
to analyse the needs met by communications content and the active or passive behaviour of
Facebook mobile users. The purpose of this paper is to build a model of m-WOM in a fan
page based upon these two theories.
Individual media dependency (IMD) and parasocial interaction theories are key in
understanding the creation and development of relations, affecting individuals
behaviour (Ball-Rokeach, 1985, 1989; Defleur and Ball-Rokeach, 1989; Horton and
Wohl, 1956; Levy, 1979). A review of the literature reveals that use of mobile phones and
social networks can satisfy needs of understanding, orientation and play which, in turn,
positively influence the attitude and behaviour of the user (Chen, 2013; Ruiz-Mafé et al.,
2014). Besides, parasocial interaction strengthens social ties, thus contributing to achieve
active user behaviour (Bigné et al., 2006; Currás et al., 2012). In addition, a better
understanding of individualsbehaviour is attained by an analysis of the attitudes that
individuals develop towards the new systems of information and communication,
those attitudes being central to the prediction of active participation in the media
(Ballantine and Martin, 2005), intention to use (Hausman and Siekpe, 2009) or loyalty
towards it (Ok and Shon, 2006).
On the basis of the above, the aim of the present research is to analyse the impact of the
following variables: brand fan page dependency; parasocial interaction; attitude towards a
brands fan page, in generating and enhancing usersparticipation in Facebook as a mobile
social network (m-WOM in Facebook) and, thus, in encouraging the creation of social ties
and achieve usersactive participation in the fan page. With IMD and parasocial interaction
as a theoretical framework, the present study aims to propose an explanatory model of
mobile eWOM in Facebook fan pages. The contribution of the present research to the
existing body of literature is threefold. First, this investigation offers a new perspective in
explaining eWOM participation in mobile settings based on social networks. Second,
previous literature on eWOM has pivoted on engagement (Eisingerich et al., 2015), the users
utilitarian and social motivations (Bigné et al., 2015; Bilgihan et al., 2016; Okazaki, 2009)
or human-computer interactions (Hyder et al., 2014), while here we argue that dependency is
a key driver in explaining m-WOM. Despite the valuable contribution of previous literature,
our focus differs from such approaches in that dependency is understood as a
communication stream, which fits better the nature of word-of-mouth communications.
Lastly, integrating parasocial integration in our model highlights the communication nature
of the word-of-mouth process.

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