The social network antecedents to consumer engagement: revealing how consumers' conversations influence online engagement behaviors

Yan Qu, Adam J. Saffer, Daniel Riffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Consumer engagement has become a critical component to many brands' relationship and promotional efforts. Empirical studies have documented the psychological elements that can drive consumers to engage with brands. However, there is a knowledge gap regarding how consumer engagement is influenced by the social environment consumers are embedded in. Taking an egocentric network approach, this study explores the social network factors that affect different dimensions of consumers' online engagement behaviors with a brand. Design/methodology/approach: An online survey with an egocentric network design was employed, and 263 completed responses were collected from college students in US. The dimensionality of consumer engagement was validated using exploratory factor analysis. The hypotheses were tested through three sets of hierarchical regression models. Findings: The results suggest that consumer engagement with a brand was partially shaped by the attributes of consumers' brand discussion networks that emerge from their conversations about a brand with others in everyday life. Specifically, the size, heterogeneity, and density to consumers' discussion networks were associated with certain engagement behaviors. Originality/value: This study introduces a novel type of network method known as egocentric network analysis to explore and investigate the social network antecedents to consumer engagement behavior. It advances the conception of consumer engagement as a dynamic process influencing and is influenced by consumers' social interactions rather than merely a product of their psychological mechanisms. The study contributes to a social network approach to examining and conceptualizing consumer engagement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCorporate Communications
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 6 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited.

Keywords

  • Consumer engagement
  • Corporate communication
  • Egocentric network analysis
  • Personal networks

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