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Marketing the Pinball Way: Understanding How Social Media Change the Generation of Value for Consumers and Companies

Marketing the Pinball Way: Understanding How Social Media Change the
Generation of Value for Consumers and Companies
Thorsten Hennig-Thurau
& Charles F. Hofacker
& Björn Bloching
Marketing Center, University of Münster, Am Stadtgraben 13-15, 48143 Münster, Germany
Faculty of Management, Cass Business School, City University London, 106 Bunhill Row, London EC1Y 8TZ, UK
Department of Marketing, Florida State University, 821 Academic Way, Tallahassee, FL 32306-110, USA
Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, Am Sandtorkai 41, 20457 Hamburg, Germany
Available online 16 October 2013
He stands like a statue, becomes part of the machine. Feeling
all the bumpers, always playing clean. He plays by intuition,
the digit counters fall. That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure
plays a mean pinball!From the lyrics of Pinball Wizard,
written by Pete Townsend, from the album Tommy
In the mid-2000's, the marketing challenges resulting from
digitalization seemed to have been met. Many firms had created a
Web presence and were beginning to successfully understand
how to maintain and update these sites. A number of firms were
communicating with email, and many had even accepted the
existence of negative customer comments on review sites like
Amazon. What few suspected at that time was that the challenges
of digitalization were only beginning to disrupt marketing. When
Facebook opened its doors to the general public in 2006,
the power of social media began to influence consumers and
businesses, and has continued to do so with breathtaking speed.
In the summer of 2013, the top three Web sites in terms of traffic
are Facebook, Google, and YouTube either dedicated social
network sites or platforms that feature strong social networking
elements. One out of seven persons on our planet is currently an
active member of Facebook, even though the site is not accessible
to those under 13 years old, nor is it accessible in China, the
world's most populous country.
This dramatic growth of social media has impacted business
processes and models in ways in which managers, but also
marketing scholars, have only begun to understand. One way to
model the radical changes that social media introduce is the
pinball metaphor (Hennig-Thurau et al. 2010), which suggests
that marketing in a social media environment resembles the
chaotic and interactive game of pinball, havingreplaced the linear
and one-directional bowling approach to marketing. In addition to
enabling a new way of thinking, the pinball metaphor also sheds
light on how value creation processes and structures have to adapt
to the new marketing environment if firms want to be perceived as
beneficial by active and highly networked consumers. In this
editorial article, we provide a review of the new environment and
review the major implications for marketing managers and firms
exposed by that illumination, showing how each of the articles in
this special issue on Social Media and Marketingilluminates
the new environment and its implications.
Playing Pinball with Active, Networked Consumers
Traditional marketing resembles bowling: A firm uses its
marketing instruments (the ball) to reach and influence consumers
This editorial and the other articles included in this special issue are inspired
by the inaugural Think:Lab Thought Leaders' Summit that took place in
Munich, Germany, from September 1923, 2012. The event was hosted by the
Digitalization Think:Lab, a joint research initiative by the University of
Münster's Marketing Center and Roland Berger Strategy Consultants (http:// The event was made possible through the
generous support from Roland Berger Strategy Consultants as well as from the
University of Münster's Marketing Center and City University London's Cass
Business School. We also thank all participating managers, scholars, and social
media experts for their multifaceted and rich contributions that have built the
foundation for the insights reported in special issue. This article has strongly
benetted from our many discussions with Jonas vor dem Esche.
Correspondence to: Thorsten Hennig-Thurau, Marketing Center, University
of Münster, Am Stadtgraben 1315, 48143 Münster, Germany.
1094-9968/$ -see front matter © 2013 Direct Marketing Educational Foundation, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Available online at
Journal of Interactive Marketing 27 (2013) 237 241
(the pins). Mass media (the bowling alley) function as mediators
for marketing content; these media have to be carefully attended
to because they can also influence the effectiveness of marketing
actions. Social media change the picture marketing is now
better characterized as a pinball game (Hennig-Thurau et al.
2010). The pinball machine comprises the environment in which,
as in the bowling metaphor, marketing instruments (the balls) are
used to reach consumers (the various targets of the machine
bumpers, kickers, and slingshots).
There are two major differences that reflect the changes in
consumer behavior that have been associated with the rise of
social media: Increased active participation and a strong level of
networked interconnectedness. As a result, consumers in the new
pinball environment have much more power than they had in
the old bowling environment, which shapes their behavior in
the market place. Labrecque et al. (2013this issue) offer an
in-depth investigation of the evolution of this power and its
impact on consumer behavior. Those empowered consumers not
only receive messages like bowling pins, they actively participate
via social media by sharing brand and product experiences with
friends via status updates or even filmed reviews. Such consumer
actions are immediate and often visible by large numbers of other
consumers; they can change the intensity and even meaning of
the original message in numerous possible ways. As a result, the
ball is diverted, accelerated or slowed, and sometimes brought to
a complete halt. Labrecque et al. (2013this issue) introduce the
concept of community-based power and argue that consumers
can even seize the initiative in the game. Mass media in the form
of slingshots and bumpers further increase the unpredictability of
the game, multiplying social media episodes and providing the
basis for future pinball activity.
How Pinball Affects Value Creation: Brands, Customer
Relationships, and Selling
Most, if not all, of the mechanisms by which marketing creates
value for consumers and companies are substantially affected by
the spread of social media and the ensuing pinball effect. In the
following, we illustrate how the mechanisms change for three key
marketing assetsnamely brands, customer relationships, and
sellingand discuss some potential consequences.
Brand Management in the Pinball Age
One of the broadest implications of the pinball metaphor is
that companies have, at least partially, lost control of marketing
activities. Nowhere is the loss of control more critical than in the
area of branding, where the firm strives to manage consumer
reactions to brand-related pinballs in a way that is consistent with
its goals. Gensler et al. (2013this issue) suggest that the key for
these firms will be to accept that the game has changed and to
therefore co-create brand stories with active consumers, instead
of continuing to do so autonomously. Gensler et al. (2013this
issue) point out that brand stories are essential in determining the
meaning of brands, and they offer a powerful framework for how
such stories are developed in the new pinball environment.
Among those requirements that are central for successful branding
in the social media era are monitoring the pinball machine and
effective moderation of the brand story development process.
Monitoring the Machine. Given the cacophony of pinball
activities taking place, the monitoring of the plethora of multi-
media content from consumers deserves particular attention
from companies (Gensler et al. 2013this issue). The task does
not end with issuing a new brand-related pinball, but requires
following its course very closely. In addition to measuring
the volume of social communication, managers have to keep track
of the communication's content and sentiment, which enables
them to immediately identify trends and crises (e.g., Schweidel
and Moe 2012; see also Peters et al. 2013this issue). Whereas the
dominant approach appears to be to use quantitative measures
involving artificial intelligence, a promising alternative might
be to apply netnography (Kozinets 2002) to understand changes
in brand sentiment and image.
Active Moderation. A second key challenge for brand
management in these pinball times is to change from solo
creators to cooperating moderators of the development of the
brand story (Gensler et al. 2013this issue; Godes et al. 2005).
Such moderation is demanding, as it requires balancing the
stimulation of consumer brand engagement while steering that
engagement in a direction that is consistent with the company's
interests. Being overly restrictive can reduce engagement, while
too little restriction can result in an inconsistent and thus a
confusing brand story the flippers must be handled deftly.
This cooperation is new territory for brand managers, and little
generalizable knowledge exists regarding the handling of the
moderation process. A powerful example of effective moderation
is Procter & Gamble's Old Spice campaign, which first managed
to create engagement through provocative videos for the
worn-out brand and then steered this engagement through a
response campaignin which 186 videos were filmed, each of
which a response to an individual fan's Twitter or Facebook
comment (Kalamut 2010).
Moderation is also critical when negative comments escalate
into a crisis that threatens the brand, the biggest threat associated
with social media by managers (IBM 2011). With millions of
consumers able to articulate negative experiences with and
attitudes about goods and services, such social media crises
occur all the time, but their extent and impact differ dramatically.
Few crises become as widely known as Singer Dave Carroll's
painful service experience with United Airlines, which he
summarized in the song United Breaks Guitarsthat pinballed
all the way to viral status. The business impact of such social
word-of-mouth is not yet well understood; the few existing
findings indicate that social word-of-mouth can impact diffusion
patterns (Thurau et al. 2013), product sales (Ruietal.2013), and
companies' market value (Bollen et al. 2011). None of these
studies investigated crises in particular, so many unanswered
questions remain. Given their heterogeneous nature, companies
need to learn how to identify those bumpers and balls that have the
strongest threat potential.
Once a crisis develops, effective strategic reaction requires
an integration of brand management and individual customer
238 Editorial
management (see Gensler et al. 2013this issue). Communica-
tion has a strong de-escalation potential, but can also inflate the
problem. When Nestlé was criticized by users for its use of palm
oil, the firm reacted by deleting critical posts, arguing It's
our site, we set the rules.Such an authoritarian communication
style ignored the co-creative, interactive nature of the pinball
environment and thus led to an escalation of the crisis rather than
solving it. Social media research might benefit from researchers
who have studied complaint management (like Stauss and Seidel
2004), although consumer voice in the pre-pinball age usually
lacked the public, chaotic character of the current environment.
Managing Customer Relationships in the Pinball Age
The pinball metaphor also implies substantial changes for the
management of customer relationships if done successfully,
the key bumpers (i.e. social media opinion leaders) act in a way
that helps the company to achieve a high pinball score. Malthouse
et al. (2013this issue) utilize the term social CRMto describe
managing customer relationships in the pinball environment,
introducing a social CRM house that combines foundational
elements of general management (namely, strategies, people,
information, and metrics) with combinations of engagement
and CRM processes.
Social media enable relationships to be managed on the level
of the individual consumer, something that is especially im-
portant but also challenging for firms that have not yet had
one-by-one relationships but have only managed anonymous
customer segments. Engaging consumers in such potentially
valuable interactions is not easy, as there is a large number of
brands and companies striving for consumers' limited time,
attention, and emotional resources. Thus companies need to learn
what kind of social CRM leads to consumer engagement.
Research suggests that interesting and arousing content helps
(Berger 2011; Berger and Milkman 2012) but this might be too
vague to be of managerial value.
One key characteristic of social media is its informal and
personal nature consumers share their likes and loves with
others through networks and might expect something in return
from their befriended if not beloved brands. Celebrities like
Ashton Kutcher are successful because they share private
perspectives with their social media friends. What could be the
equivalent for CRM managers? Microsoft was successful when
they let Robert Scoble chat about company insights in a very
personal and sometimes critical way; as Chief Humanizing
Officer(The Economist 2005) Scoble helped the company to
be perceived more favorably by the public. Whereas social
communication is valuable when authentic, value offered by
CRM and social media managers (or agencies) is today often
confused with short-lived gimmickry.
Selling and Transactions in the Pinball Age
Firm revenue is directly driven by sales and the activities
surrounding transactions. How can the pinball machine be used
to influence sales transactions, in addition to building brands
and to managing long-term relationships? Yadav et al. (2013this
issue) argue that the answer is tightly linked to the emerging
concept of social commerce. The authors define social commerce
as exchange-related activities that occur in, or are influenced by,
an individual's social network in computer-mediated social
environmentsand stress its different facets: marketing activities
designed to stimulate transactions and other activities intended to
influence consumers' purchase decisions, but which are directed
at other stages of the decision-making process.
Transaction-focused social commerce involves the direct use
of social networks in selling products. In other words, can the
pinball machine be transformed into a digital shopping center?
Attempts by firms to sell products via Facebook have been
mostly unsuccessful (e.g., Nordstrom, Warner Bros.), but
Yadav et al. (2013this issue) suggest that these failures
might be the result of contextual factors rather than general
ineptness. Recent innovations by Facebook such as the Gifts
option indicate that a potential for success exists if
transaction-focused social commerce is done competently.
Information-focused social commerce includes the product
evaluation by the potential buyer's friends, as is implemented
by Amazon or the Google Play retail platform. Initial research
has shown that such social effects influence key success metrics
such as customer retention (Haenlein 2013; Nitzan and Libai
2011). Fully understanding the effect of information-focused
social commerce would benefit from isolating the effects of
social word-of-mouth from other kinds of word-of-mouth such
as standard, anonymous Amazon reviews. Yadav et al.
(2013this issue) note that teasing apart social from other
word-of-mouth effects would be valuable, particularly if the
mobile component of social information is considered.
Pinball Requires New Methods and Measures
Keeping score in bowling is not the same as keeping score
in pinball! The changes to marketing strategy and actions in
the new pinball environment imply that we need to collect new
kinds of information to guide the firm's handling of the
pinball machine. The new information is needed to evaluate
marketing performance in a way that adequately captures the
elements of the new paradigm such as the interconnectedness
of customers and their active role in the marketplace. But what
are essential metrics or key performance indicators of pinball
Peters et al. (2013this issue) suggest that such metrics
are needed for four different facets of the pinball environment
consumer engagement motives, the content generated by
consumers, the structure of the consumers' network, and
consumers' social roles and interactions. The authors derive
nine guidelines that companies should consider when choosing
their set of social media metrics.
In addition to adding new metrics to their dashboards,
companies should also consider redefining existing metrics on
the level of the individual consumer, such as customer lifetime
value (CLV) (Berger and Nasr 1998). Although some
traditional models of CLV and customer equity already include
some word-of-mouth elements (Hogan, Lemon, and Libai
2003), these metrics are not fully able to capture the viral
dynamics that are inherent to the pinball environment.
Customer metrics have to better account for the influence
score of consumers (Nitzan and Libai 2011). In today's
networked economy, people who reach and actively influence
thousands or even millions of people through their status
updates or tweets might not buy a company's products at all,
but have a much stronger impact on the company's prospects
than some heavy shoppers. Metrics such as the Klout score
have been developed, but are generally used in isolation
instead of being integrated with customer metrics. As an
example, in March 2013, American Airlines opened up its
Admirals Club lounges to influential flyers, regardless of
whether they were customers of the airline (Hoang 2013).
Similarly, Kumar, Peterson, and Leone (2007, 2010) have
suggested customer referral value as a separate metric. The
ideal solution would be to integrate purchase-focused and
holistic influence-focused metrics, but such an integration
would require deep knowledge of the business impact of social
Pinball Affects Organizational Processes and Structures
Marketing can be practiced by a single individual, but is
mostly embedded within an array of organizational activities.
Thus, effective pinball must be understood as a team sport an
insight that was boldly underlined by numerous social media
practitioners during the thought leadership conference that led
to this special issue. Consider a social media crisis whose
development is usually determined within its very first hours.
Social media managers need to be capable of identifying the
threat potential of a crisis, of responding whenever the crisis
breaks out, be authorized to offer competent and substantive
answers to sometimes fundamental problems, and have access
to a variety of resources. Can the marketing manager (or even
the CEO) be contacted if the crisis breaks out during a
weekend or vacation period? Inflexible routines do not allow
such reactions, which imply cross-functional communication,
and cultures often are built on the assumption that it is the
company who sets the agenda of activities, not the tweeting
Firms have not yet allocated substantial budgets for
learning how to play pinball (Owyang et al. 2011), nor has
academic research shed much light on the organizational
adaptations required for success in the new pinball environ-
ment. Two studies in this issue shed initial insight into this
far-reaching and complex matter. Weinberg et al. (2013this
issue) focus on the concept of social business and offer
arguments why transforming organizations into such social
businesses is a promising move, stressing the powers that are set
free when firms substitute silo-type structures by more cross-silo
collaboration, and when employees are enabled to display
expressive individuality. They illustrate their ideas by referring
to Dell's transformation toward a social business, which included
the social media accreditationof a large number of employees
and the development and execution of new metrics. In
addition, Malthouse et al. (2013this issue) also shed light on
the role of organizational elements for mastering the challenges
that social media bring for customer relationship management,
stressing the need of an empowered culture and skilled employees,
among other things. Those wide-ranging organizational impli-
cations of social media can guide firms which now outsource
their social media activities to agencies along their way to
becoming powerful pinball players.
As a result of the dramatic changes social media bring, the
marketing world needs to move from bowling to pinball. This
special issue addresses key implications of this necessary transition
including the rise of consumer power, the co-creation of brand
stories, the new social-CRM, the invention of social commerce, the
need for new metrics, and the necessary organizational adaptations
in a pinball world.
The implications of the paradigm shift from bowling to
pinball are far-reaching not only for marketing managers and
companies, but also for the marketing discipline itself. To keep
in touch with the marketplace, scholars in every area of the
marketing discipline need to understand the implications and
consequences of the new paradigm. Playing pinball ourselves
might be a good place to start.
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The development of new communication technologies has made it possible for brands to establish instant, fast and interactive communication with their target audiences. While the increasing number of followers of social media platforms all over the world is also effective in different scale companies’ marketing communication activities intensification in these channels; the brand followers have being turned into virtual communities that interact by commenting on the content shared through the official accounts of the brands. Online brand communities are virtual communities which may be observed the effect of the interaction process between the brand-consumer/consumer-consumer in social media, the sharing of online information and experiences among consumers, the long-term trust and loyalty relationship establish process between the brand and the consumer, and the in-group dynamics on purchasing behavior. Although there are many studies on online brand communities in the literature, there is not any research that analyzes coffee culture in Turkey, With the entry of global brands into the market of coffee culture in Turkey, the basis of the transformation, within the framework of global and local brand opposition through the brand experiences and interaction styles of virtual communities. So, the main starting point of this research is to identify the similarities and differences between communication styles on virtual follower communities of the Starbucks which is a global coffee brand and Kahve Dünyası which is a national coffee brand within the framework of the comments made on the Instagram posts, based on Kozinet's (2001) "Consumer Culture" approach. Therefore, within the scope of the research, the consumer comments on the official Instagram pages of Starbucks Turkey and Kahve Dünyası brands between 01.01.2022 and 31.03.2022 are compared quantitatively and qualitatively; and these comments are analyzed with the netnography method due to consumer self-identity building, social relationships and bonding (including other consumers and the brand), humor/having fun, obtaining information about the product / obtaining a utilitarian experience, pleasure/emotion expression, having an inspiring and innovative experience / activating creative/inspiring emotions, evaluating the product /brand practices based on Waqas, Hamzah and Salleh (2020)’s research about the way members of the Volvo online brand community interact on Facebook, which categorize the consumer content creation experience for brand-sourced content. As a result of the research, it is determined that there is not a meaningful qualitative a difference between the follower comments on the Instagram posts of the two brands, but the interaction practices of the Instagram followers of the two brands with both the brand and other users in the medium differ. Keywords: Online Brand Communities, Online Consumer Culture, Netnography, Brand Experience
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The emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in the public's search for information in the field of health. For this reason, while posts related to the pandemic on social media platforms and the level of interaction of these posts have increased; the rate and speed of spread of fake, misleading, deceptive information and misinformative content has also increased. As a result of the increasing number of posts creating an infodemic, the public's search for accurate and reliable information on social media has risen. Therefore, both the number of followers and the level of interaction of official health institutions and authorities on different social media platforms has increased, including Instagram, which is chosen as the analysis platform in this research. As a result of the start of vaccination works with the approval of the Ministry of Health as of January 13, 2021, in Turkey, discussions about the effectiveness and safety of Covid-19 vaccines have started to rise on all social media platforms, including Instagram. In this process, due to the increase in vaccine discussions on social media platforms, obstacles have arisen in front of central health institutions and authorities in directing the public to the desired health behavior, which is the vaccine, in order to control the epidemic in the context of strategic health communication studies. In this context, the main purpose of this study is to analyze the interaction style of social media users regarding vaccination works and their attitudes towards vaccine acceptance, rejection and indecision in the context of the followers of the Minister of Health, who created a virtual community. Accordingly, in this study, the follower comments are analyzed on the three posts with the highest comment interaction based on vaccination studies and shared within a month since the start of vaccination studies in Turkey on 13.01.2021, on official Instagram account of the Minister of Health of the Republic of Turkey, Fahrettin Koca by netnography method. The relevant comments in the research is subjected to a thematic analysis based on acceptance, refusal and hesitation attitudes and the interaction styles used in the construction of these attitudes as advocating, proposing (acceptance); inquiring, skeptical content usage (hesitation); sarcastic/humorous content usage, rebuttal arguments for the effectiveness of the vaccine, comments that lead people to pessimism about the vaccine (refusal) and other categories based on Azer and Alexander (2022)’s netnographic study examining the comments on the Facebook posts on vaccines of the World Health Organization. As a result of the analysis, it is concluded that the interaction styles vary which are used in comments including acceptance, rejection and indecision about vaccination on the Instagram account of Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca for vaccination-promoting messages. In addition, it is found out that the comments include acceptance have positive; the comments containing refusal have a negative, while comments include hesitation have a positive, negative and neutral message tone distribution quantitatively. Key Words: Covid-19, Netnography, Vaccination, Digital Health Communication, Virtual Communities
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CRM has traditionally referred to a company managing relationships with customers. The rise of social media, which has connected and empowered customers, challenges this fundamental raison d'etre. This paper examines how CRM needs to adapt to the rise of social media. The convergence of social media and CRM creates pitfalls and opportunities, which are explored. We organize this discussion around the new “social CRM house,” and discuss how social media engagement affects the house's core areas (i.e., acquisition, retention, and termination) and supporting business areas (i.e., people, IT, performance evaluation, metrics and overall marketing strategy). Pitfalls discussed include the organization's lack of control over message diffusion, big and unstructured data sets, privacy, data security, the shortage of qualified manpower, measuring the ROI of social media marketing initiatives, strategies for managing employees, integrating customer touch points, and content marketing.
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The predictions of growing consumer power in the digital age that predated the turn of the century were fueled by the rise of the Internet, then reignited by social media. This article explores the intersection of consumer behavior and digital media by clearly defining consumer power and empowerment in Internet and social media contexts and by presenting a theoretical framework of four distinct consumer power sources: demand-, information-, network-, and crowd-based power. Furthermore, we highlight technology's evolutionary role in the development of these power sources and discuss the nature of shifts in power from marketers to consumers in terms of each source. The framework organizes prior marketing literature on Internet-enabled consumer empowerment and highlights gaps in current research. Specific research questions are elaborated for each source of power outlining the agenda for future research areas.
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Many firms are now using referral marketing campaigns to harness the power of word of mouth and to increase referrals to acquire new customers. Prior research has identified a method of computing the value of referrals using only a customer's actual past referral behavior to compute customer referral value (CRV). In this article, the authors develop and test a new four-step approach to compute CRV. In addition, they determine the behavioral drivers of CRV and then identify the most effective methods of targeting the most promising customers on the basis of their customer lifetime value (CLV) and CRV scores. The authors illustrate and test this approach through four separate field experiments with firms from two industries: financial services and retailing. They find that to maximize profitability, it is critical to manage customers in terms of both their CLV and CRV scores and that understanding the behavioral drivers of CRV can help managers better target the most profitable customers with their referral marketing campaigns.
This research provides an empirical test of the “Twitter effect,” which postulates that microblogging word of mouth (MWOM) shared through Twitter and similar services affects early product adoption behaviors by immediately disseminating consumers’ post-purchase quality evaluations. This is a potentially crucial factor for the success of experiential media products and other products whose distribution strategy relies on a hyped release. Studying the four million MWOM messages sent via Twitter concerning 105 movies on their respective opening weekends, the authors find support for the Twitter effect and report evidence of a negativity bias. In a follow-up incident study of 600 Twitter users who decided not to see a movie based on negative MWOM, the authors shed additional light on the Twitter effect by investigating how consumers use MWOM information in their decision-making processes and describing MWOM’s defining characteristics. They use these insights to position MWOM in the word-of-mouth landscape, to identify future word-of-mouth research opportunities based on this conceptual positioning, and to develop managerial implications.
Social media are becoming ubiquitous and need to be managed like all other forms of media that organizations employ to meet their goals. However, social media are fundamentally different from any traditional or other online media because of their social network structure and egalitarian nature. These differences require a distinct measurement approach as a prerequisite for proper analysis and subsequent management. To develop the right social media metrics and subsequently construct appropriate dashboards, we provide a tool kit consisting of three novel components. First, we theoretically derive and propose a holistic framework that covers the major elements of social media, drawing on theories from marketing, psychology, and sociology. We continue to support and detail these elements — namely ‘motives,’ ‘content,’ ‘network structure,’ and ‘social roles & interactions’ — with recent research studies. Second, based on our theoretical framework, the literature review, and practical experience, we suggest nine guidelines that may prove valuable for designing appropriate social media metrics and constructing a sensible social media dashboard. Third, based on the framework and the guidelines we derive managerial implications and suggest an agenda for future research.
This paper delineates the main characteristics of the evolution of the organization as a social business in response to the socially networked marketplace. We advance the notion that the modern day firm is increasingly organized as a community according to the principle of collaboration. The main message is that the prominence of organizational structure is not redundant but needs to be complemented by collaborative community in response to market demands. In order to fulfill this complementary role, the concept of organization is profoundly changing. Based on recent theorizing, we review the role of collaborative community as a key characteristic of social business, provide an overview of its principles, show how social media can effectively facilitate and support collaborative community, and introduce the concept of expressive individuality. We provide illustrative examples that feature Dell. We conclude by identifying an agenda for further academic inquiry, and by specifying a large number of issues that researchers may address.
The dynamic, ubiquitous, and often real-time interaction enabled by social media significantly changes the landscape for brand management. A deep understanding of this change is critical since it may affect a brand's performance substantially. Literature about social media's impact on brands is evolving, but lacks a systematic identification of key challenges related to managing brands in this new environment. This paper reviews existing research and introduces a framework of social media's impact on brand management. It argues that consumers are becoming pivotal authors of brand stories due to new dynamic networks of consumers and brands formed through social media and the easy sharing of brand experiences in such networks. Firms need to pay attention to such consumer-generated brand stories to ensure a brand's success in the marketplace. The authors identify key research questions related to the phenomenon and the challenges in coordinating consumer- and firm-generated brand stories.
A key issue for marketers resulting from the dramatic rise of social media is how it can be leveraged to generate value for firms. Whereas the importance of social media for brand management and customer relationship management is widely recognized, it is unclear whether social media can also help companies market and sell products. Extant discussions of social commerce present a variety of perspectives, but the core issue remains unresolved. This paper aims to make two contributions. First, to address the lack of clarity in the literature regarding the meaning and domain of social commerce, the paper offers a definition stemming from important research streams in marketing. This definition allows for both a broad (covering all steps of the consumer decision process) and a narrow (focusing on the purchase act itself) construal of social commerce. Second, we build on this definition and develop a contingency framework for assessing the marketing potential that social commerce has to offer to firms. Implications for researchers and managers, based on the proposed definition and framework, are also discussed.
The impact of social factors on individual-level decision making has been a subject of regular interest within the marketing discipline. Yet, studies analyzing social interactions and social contagion have, to a very large extent, focused on the importance of social interactions in the customer acquisition process and have relied on the use of undirected networks. Our study integrates into this literature stream by focusing on two elements that have been analyzed less frequently. Specifically, we focus on the importance of social interactions in the customer retention process within a directed social network. Using the customer base of a mobile phone provider, we rely on call detail records to investigate the churn behavior of 3,431 focal actors. We provide evidence for social interactions in customer churn decisions and show that, at any given point in time, a focal actor is significantly and substantially more likely to defect from a provider if other individuals to whom that actor is socially connected have previously defected from the provider. Yet, this effect is limited to social contacts with whom the focal actor has outgoing calling relationships and who churned relatively recently (in our sample, less than 5 weeks prior to the time point under examination). We therefore provide empirical evidence that social effects do play a role in customer retention but only when tie directionality and churn recency are taken into account.
Social broadcasting networks such as Twitter in the U.S. and Weibo in China are transforming the way online word-of-mouth (WOM) is disseminated and consumed in the digital age. We investigate whether and how Twitter WOM affects movie sales by estimating a dynamic panel data model using publicly available data and well known machine learning algorithms. We find that chatter on Twitter does matter, however, the magnitude and direction of the effect depends on whom the WOM is from and what the WOM is about. Measuring Twitter users' influence by how many followers they have, we find that the effect of WOM from more influential users is significantly larger than that from less influential users. In support of some recent findings about the importance of WOM valence on product sales, we also find that positive Twitter WOM increases movie sales while negative WOM decreases them. Interestingly, we find that the strongest effect on movie sales comes from those tweets where the authors express their intention to watch a certain movie. We attribute this to the dual effects of such intention tweets on movie sales: the direct effect through the WOM author's own purchase behavior, and the indirect effect through either the awareness effect or the persuasive effect of the WOM on its recipients. Our findings provide new perspectives to understand the effect of WOM on product sales and have important managerial implications. For example, our study reveals the potential values of monitoring people's intention and sentiment on Twitter and identifying influential users for companies wishing to harness the power of social broadcasting networks.