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Engaging customers on Facebook: challenges for e-retailers

By Lisa Harris and Charles Dennis

Abstract

Social networking, particularly Facebook, is becoming ever more prevalent, particularly with young people. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the extent to which consumers are willing to incorporate product/service recommendations and purchase activity into social networking behaviour. We report a qualitative study focus groups with students at two UK-based universities. The results lead us to propose new theory appropriate to this new form of consumer behaviour. First, notwithstanding consumers expressing little interest in social e-shopping, a ‘nudge’ in the form of recommendations from friends and trial of appropriate systems should result in changes in consumer behaviour towards its use. Second, we propose a hierarchy of trust ordinal scale in recommenders/reviewers from ‘real’ friends at the top down to reviews on retailers’ websites, which may be positively associated with intention to purchase.<br/>These findings have practical implications for retailers likely to be affected by major changes in the way that consumer purchasing decisions are made. First, companies targeting their products and services at young people such as students should consider adjusting their communication strategies to take account of the wide variety of attitudes and behaviours that students exhibit towards online interactions outside of established networks of close friends. Second, in order to develop trust and subsequent purchase activity from their social network supporters, retailers need to pay attention to the integration of their data across the whole of the organisation, and ensure the availability of sufficient numbers of trained and empowered staff to engage with their supporters effectively.<br/

Topics: HD28, HF, QA75
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.soton.ac.uk:186717
Provided by: e-Prints Soton
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