Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal

Corporate impression formation in online communities: a qualitative study
Christine Hallier Willi Bang Nguyen T.C. Melewar Charles Dennis
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Christine Hallier Willi Bang Nguyen T.C. Melewar Charles Dennis , (2014),"Corporate impression
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formation in online communities: a qualitative study", Qualitative Market Research: An International
Journal, Vol. 17 Iss 4 pp. 410 - 440
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c atio
nal
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rna
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online
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commu
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1352-
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School of
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DOI
10.110 Law, Zurich
8/QMR
-07- University of
2013-
0049 Applied Sciences,
Wi
nte
rth
ur,

UKInter vant
Switzerlan to successful
activ corporate communication
d e in OCs, and further
Bang
onli
A ne
explore if and how online
community members
Nguyen
b platf (OCMs) expect companies
Depart P orm to communicate with them,
ment u s explaining how corporate
of suc impressions are formed.
h as Design/methodology/appr
Market OCs oach – A qualitative
ing, are research method was
East gro chosen, consisting of two
wing stages. In stage one, 17
China
. expert interviews with
Univer Co academics and practitioners
sity of mpa were conducted, and in
Scienc nies stage two, 12 OCMs were
are
e and interviewed to clarify the
disc concepts and gain new
Technolo
over
gy,ing insights.
Findings – The study gains
Shangha
their
new knowledge relating to
i, China
imp
corporate communication in
orta
T.C.
nceMelewar
OCs and image formation.
Specifically, the authors
Middlese and
identify and confirm important
x incr
key constructs in corporate
easi
University impression formation in OCs,
ngly
Business inclu namely, relevance of
School, de messages, communication
style, social context cues,
Middlese OCs
in affiliation, perceived similarity,
x source credibility and
their
University interpersonal communication.
com
, UK and mun Furthermore, a conceptual
model is proposed on the
Charles
icati
relationship between
on
Dennis
activ communication elements
Linc ities. relevant in online communities
The and their influence on
oln
pres corporate impression.
Busi ent Practical implications –
ness stud The study helps to refine
Sch y existing concepts of
ool, iden corporate impression
tifies formation in OCs. It is
Univ the suggested that
ersit und understanding how
y of erlyi corporate impression is
ng
Linc formed in OCs helps
com companies to participate in
oln, pon virtual networks, improving
Linc ents their corporate impression.
oln, rele
Originality/value – This

paper In tr o Downloaded by SHAHEED ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) d uc ti o n In tra diti on al fa ce - to- fa ce co m m un ica tio n. on the Internete w Corporate image. tw o or m or e in div id ua ls for m im pr es sio . (word-of. o Computer-mediated mouse) to r communication. prior findings onm e Corporate word-of-mouth K t communication.study extendsa n Online communities. demonstrate k Virtual communities that s Paper type Research communication .

it cu provides a competitive st advantage that cannot easily o be imitated ( Brown. impression is formed in OCs for leads to new online ex communication strategies a and improved management m pl of online communications ( e. 1998).. 1967). This is o particularly important. finally. The git study thus aims to explore al how online community te members (OCMs) form ch impressions about a no company that is using OCs lo for corporate communication gy. The explosion of blogs. er discussion forums and social ac networking sites provides tiv many opportunities for e studying the process of di impression formation. activities. 1993). product ( io o Brown. 1998) and new n product evaluation ( Aaker of and Keller. It posits that In corporate impression ad formation in OCs has its diti peculiarities. Stern et al. m Researchers note that er understanding how corporate s. studies focussing os on corporate impression e formation in OCs are in their wh infancy. as m companies today er communicate with a new . this phenomenon to cu positively influence their st corporate image.n nces buyer attitude towards a ge s company’s salesperson ( ne C rat Cohen. 2001). int face. The present study o suggest that more needs to gr be conducted to determine ew how individuals base their up impressions on others when wit meeting through the h computer rather than face-to. and companies on need to better understand . th To date.

It h subsequently discusses the p research design and or methods.s entity. corporate image and C computer-mediated or T communication (CMC). which are fruitful to future pr research. es si o n fo r m ati o n 4 1 1 KAR ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) . The paper then compares at conceptualisations from the e literature with findings and im outline concluding remarks.

Q T h C 4 o T h T h B u 1• F 2• S .

legitimate to base the description of the immediate impression an individual fo
about a company during the online community interaction, thus extending on
corporate image construct ( Hallier, 2013).
As more and more people are using online communication platforms, there is a grow
importance in understanding the communication and subsequent impression forma
on OCs. Researchers identify four elements that influence the impression forma
process of an OCM:

ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT)
(1) the company representative;
(2) other community members;
(3) the message itself; and
(4) the virtual platform.
To distinguish
the four
elements and
their attributes,
corporate
impression is
explained by
two
characteristics,
namely,
functional and
emotional (
Kennedy, 1977;
Martineau,
1958).
Functional
characteristics
are tangible and
easily
measured,
while emotional
characteristics
are based on
psychological
dimensions
such as attitude
or feelings
toward a
company. Thus,
in the context of
OCs, the study
classifies the
following
attributes into
the four
elements that
influence the
image formation
( Table I), as

corporate identity,
W corporate image
e and corporate
impression are
complex with many
antecedents and
consequences
depending on
varying research
contexts. The
present study
focusses on a
single dimension
of the corporate
identity concept,
namely, corporate
communication.
Due to the OC
context, the use of
CMC is
considered, which
includes new
communication
conditions. The
earliest CMC
studies used the
term “cues filtered
out” ( Short et al.,
1976), concluding
that people were
not able to form
any impressions
with the elimination
of nonverbal cues (
Culnan and
Markus, 1987).
Since then,
however, with the
increased
sophistication of
the Internet,
research has
demonstrated that
the individuals
interacting via
CMC form well-
developed
impressions based
on other criteria
than nonverbal

c
u Elements cor
por

Downloaded by SHAHEED
Company-representative ate
im
pre
ssi
on
Other community s
in
members
the
The message itself T co
a nte
b xt
l of
Virtual platform e O
I. Cs
Note: Developed Relevant
attributes of
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In the first stage of the fieldwork. 1997.Q i identity management. 1999. Adopting these steps for the current study. . Kozinets (2001) suggests several steps to rigorously apply the netnography method. The n resulting outcome is a A conceptual model of corporate c impression in OCs. 4 B netnography methods and a expert interviews are used for R the exploratory fieldwork. next. e Netnography is a qualitative A method that adapts the methods of ethnography to study online behaviour and cultures ( Kozinets. the protocol is described in detail. and 2002). 1998. 2003). and many scholars are studying online communities with the approach. The use of netnography is increasing ( Kozinets. 2002) or Napster ( Giesler and Pohlmann. including: the Citroën brand community ( Cova and Carrère. a non-participatory method of netnography was initially utilised to gain insights into communication activities on the Swissmom forum. To achieve the study’s research objective. 1998).

people have n reach a e n people. nonverbal and h other o th cues o factors u e a related tor c site r c o S e e m o authorship s p and a i c idea that if sponsorshi m r n there is little p il y e re social Thea d affiliation pr presence. Similarity a absent oron consists ofe s Downloaded by SHAHEED ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) strongly Users congruency cr i attenuated want a m regardinge di demographic websit il e to Thus a certain a variables. values. a those m learned to y the site’s el verbalise w policy privacy S y. ity t ” such as the t preferences e and use transp lifestyle n arent y d S c information o or of emoticons. h at t ion is more e representat iv y impersonal c ive with the e neededu r There are two The lack of s expertisee important t dimensions of social about thef context cues o e source subject m the deprives the OCMs r credibility: e are s whether the interested r source is communicato in a t believable rs of the Percei r o (expertise). on whoo runsu s has been er created and m the site. r ito e the a company t b s can oprovideil e the t i nt communicat company. and sense of e w actual ved moret influentialh physical Studie thanh s et representatives e sugge h who are presence e st that c dissimilar and r repres r The theory ofth negatively e entati homophily . C Construct Definition Author(s) Relation to or current study po ra te im pr es si on influences v suggest di that it is a e easier to bi c communicatelit with u s communica individualsy that are tiono f perceivedofto be cues are Affiliati th similar. r p how to c .bil presen “paralanguage ri beliefs.

y e OCM m y s e o have m f h b a The e t v study r h e sugge s e sts o that h c f the a o better v m t a e p h comp a a e any- b n repre o y c sentat ive u o disclo t r m ses t e p his/ h p a her e r n affiliat e y ion to c s the o e comp m n any. e favou r e a T rable e t r the h g h t imag f r e ( e a e t they v a m r have o t o u s of the u e r t send r r e w er a o b t f r l h a t It is e e v h posite o i d that t p u n the h e r e highe e s r a r the s i c b percei ) m e l ved social a i e prese g v nce of e e t the s d h comp e any c s repre o i i sentat m m m ive. m i a the u l g more n a e favou i r rable t i t the y t h image . the m T e h more o h . p t .e source has the I mitte t a a public’s best t d to h n t interests the e y i a M OCM v t e .

the Table s II.The study infers u a that the higher c t the company t e representative’s credibility. i more favourable K m the images e i p OCMs form of y n r the company e c c s o o s n r i s p o t o n r r (continued) m atio n in Downloaded by SHAHEED ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) .

Subsequently. These Conce ptual model Figure 1. Note: Developed for the present study Then the participatory method was used by actively participa ( Bernard. Th Dellaert (2002). in the second stage. expert interviews with acade experts were conducted to gain new insights into the phenom communities and to test face validity of the proposed conceptual mode interviewed 17 academics and practitioners. control over the information (1984) 416 exchange and the sense of presence Interpersonal Communication among the OC members will Ahonen and Moore It i communication influence the image formation process (2005). 2004). im Stammerjohan et information about a product al. These active consumers have Shih co been named “prosumers” (1998). po and influence each other while exchanging (2002). Tapscott fav Interactivity is characterised by increased (1997). (2005) Table II. Toffler ha involvement. who are experts in the field different fields and industries with strong connections to OCs.4 Interactivity Consumers want to participate actively in the Ariely (2000). conversation.QMR Construct Definition Author(s) Re 17. wo Studies have shown that customers support McAlexander et al. R ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) .

It r “Community-Interviewees”. Corbin and Strauss. se Experts will be hereafter ar c referred to as “Expert- ch o Interviewees” and OCMs as . In other words. et a which is one of the methods ho t listed in the pool of d e netnography methods ( wit Bernard. s e Purposive sampling was t us applied where the i e interviewees were selected n on the basis of their ability to of g contribute to our specific e m c concepts ( Burns and Grove. the study gained an vie e understanding of the relative ws importance of these concepts inc e lu in a relevant context. yn I ch 2• to gain a more n ro comprehensive 1• t no picture of CMCs’ o us impacts. while an inside view re f was provided by OCMs. Table x de III shows the individual steps i th adopted for this research. w pression formation in as e CMC. i er n Thus. for n 1990). 2004). It was recognised that co s the experts’ views were very nd t important as they provided a uc r broader perspective on OCs tin u across varying research g c contexts while the OCMs’ qu t views were community. a o asynchronous online m r interviews were conducted. alit s specific. and on r 3• to adopt CMC in the lin specific context of the e e Swissmom Online int f Community. is p For this research. ail o 2001. the ati experts provided an outside ve o view. Meho h i (2006) suggest that se m .

o A main reason for our a approach is that experts 4 r and OCMs felt more 1 e comfortable being 7 interviewed online since g the web is their business e tool. v raphically dispersed. c at a 3• the anonymity increases self. pr e 4• it facilitates a closer es a connection with si c interviewees’ h o personal feelings. fo o 2000). o g Steps Description Adoption to research Q M R 1 7 . 1990). 4 :50 25 November 2016 (PT) 4 . 2002). p beliefs and values ( n e Mann and Stewart. 2006). and r p 5• it provides the m l opportunity for e thorough reflection ati and editing of the o w messages ( h n Levinson. e n disclosure ( Tidwell im r and Walther. C e 2• its electronic format or 1• i helps users avoid p t transcription errors ( or Meho.

feedbackresul Bernard. appropriate Kozi M online forum nets. ation interview parti with the has been cipat expert chosen ory intervie Providing and ws. and information ted 2004) in All Observe the the intervie exchange forum to sele ws were obtain conduct ction additional of ed on knowledge an the about the individu Swis forum and al basis smo its m by members com intervie muni wing ty Swissm Data (add om collection ition member and al s desc Triangul For data riptio ation is collection. arch insights. e 200 Kozinets. 2). the analysis T 19) combin a Non. parti Further cipat researc Triangulatio ory h will n obse investig trustworthy rvati ate the interpretatio on to phenom n gain enon by onlin using Long-term e quantita immersion in com tive community muni method ty s Research insig The ethics hts authors and have to been Research ident presence has followin to be fully ify g disclosed relev Swissm Confidentiali ant om ty and and since it anonymity key was has to onlin selecte be ensured e d . Cultural OCMs T feedback have rts communit entrée to beh included were y aske members A Develop Permission to quoted for for specific n has to be their postings interviews research aim/question advi ( Paccag obtained Search for ce ( nella. with the members for 1999. n guarant the see eed by individual p. 1997. This additional rese 2002.

Giesler and Pohlmann. however. 2003). contact 2-3 posters of each member category.T any h messages that were F quoted in u the thesis The W follo h win g T pro h ces s for me mb er- che ck is rec om me nde d: contact ten OCMs who post most frequently on the forum for feedback. and contact ten randomly selected posters ( Kozinets. 1998. 2002. The member- check was conducted . 1997. only three Swissmo m members could be found to comment on the findings .

as questions sent intervi via email must be more ews self-explanatory ( Meho. To date. ews an interview guide and a The thorough description of the stage- CMC constructs were two included. and (ii) if a OC. social context and is. The babies data were analysed using and NVivo7. follow-up the questions were sent by email. communication. launch structured questions. N S Downloaded by o : e u Kozinet r s c (2002) e T h r e were e participants. The interviews condu started with general cted unstructured open-ended with questions such as: OCMs Could you please describe from what is important for having the a successful communication Swiss in an online community: (i) mom in general. clarify responses. additional time was ing on spent on the interviews. eight participants did not Stage respond. it took about half an Intern hour to complete our et questionnaire. could not be y included in the study. to cues. and depending portal on the amount of follow-up focuss questions. company would like to be This accepted as an online OC community member? was This was followed by semi. intervi Downloaded by SHAHEED ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) During data collection. bigges According to the participants’ t feedback. etc. s however. childre . ( Appendix 1). based on ed in the key communication summ elements such as relevance of er messages. were 2006). Table mem IV summarises the ber sampling frame. informal 2003. while another two – seven participants did not com fully complete the interview munit and thus.

n Corporate . o Nature of intervi ewees’ busine ss and job titles EED ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) . impression T h formation Nature of business Academia 419 Consultancy online media. OCs Public relations Web agencies Companies using OCs Job title Research associate/Research assistant/Lecturer Senior lecturer/Professor Online marketing and/or community manager/consultant CEO and/or Partner Senior manager/Director Tab le N IV. Social media.

Data analysis The interview data were analysed using NVivo7 software. The content was coded twice to establish stability.Q d ge of a moderator be o (characteristics and T communication behaviour) for h you to get (i) a positive and (ii) a negative impression?. followed by tests for inter- coder reliability ( Weber. According to the interviewees. 1990). The data were grouped according to relevant codes and introduced a coding hierarchy ( Table V). To be consistent with prior work. This included the initial list of variables and concepts. 1994). Where appropriate. In the next section. 1990). the findings are presented. including a principle category. a sub-category and a value. the paper . Two of the 16 interviewees did not respond. another two did not fill in the questionnaire properly nor did they reply to the follow-up questions. The data analysis was guided by the key constructs found in literature ( Table II) and associated theories ( Miles and Huberman. the researchers asked questions relating to the key constructs of corporate impression formation in OCs ( Appendix 2). the categories were labelled in the same manner ( Strauss and Corbin. it took them about 45 minutes to fill in the questionnaire. Items then were compared with those gained from literature. 4 Finally. They were thus excluded from the research.

Results show that OC users enjoy sensation of being linked and connected with others.2).10). the informal style. Influence of the discussion in OCs.17). respondents also mentioned the need to tal anonymously (Expert . however.2 a believes that younger people are easily influenced than older ones. Moreover. The findings in this section present reasons why peo Downloaded by SHAHEED ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) use OCs. Stressing the importance of OCs.2. people may or may not be influenced the discussions in OCs. Expert . In this section. According to Expert . learning. In addition. the rapidness and the pull accessibility are the only media accepted by certain demographic groups (Expert . T notion is shared by all expert interviewees. in general. believes that people are ve influenced by the discussions held or read in OCs. These included why people use them. it is clarified whether people influenced by discussions taking place in OCs. and it depends the kinds of OC they are in. Expert . He believes that it is highly interactive and promotes the possibility discuss with experts. People also use OCs because they can find like-minded people whom they can ask for help and advice (Expert . promoting and. as little influence would suggest t companies should limit their use of OCs for communication purposes. first of all. people use OCs for the same reason they take part in r communities such as networking in a private or business setting.4 believes that people use OCs as an informal way communicate. interacting with ot humans (Expert . Expert interviewee stated: Yes.p r Findings General questions about OCs The researchers initially asked general questions to experts to gain new insig regarding OCs. OCMs were also asked gene questions regarding corporate impression formation. whether they influence them a whether companies are welcome in OCs. as it is a matter of the individual’s character. Reasons why people use OCs. He notes that the community h more source credibility for commercial communication than classic media. they also liked having access t network (Expert . contributing. Secondly. It was found that people use OCs because they would like to find spe interest communities and discover new friends. communicat entertainment. T researchers asked the experts questions relating to the influence that discussio have on OC users. However.6).17. because senders of the information are more real and tangible than channels that are perceived to be more official. Expert .

create positive images. To describe important elements for . It was ) found that to .. S addressing u successful communication is important. communication in 5 an OC.

as existing opinions in both literature and practice differ. in the following two questions. Next. who follow-up on users’ Downloaded by SHAHEED ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) wishes and problems. Companies’ use of OCs for corporate communication activities. an Relevance of contribution Categories aly Note: Developed for sis Interactivity Table the present study V. candidness is everything.3 asserted that for a company to successfully communicate in an OC. 1999). It is important that individuals understand the need to learn how the communication works and not delegate their own representation in an OC to a subordinate or outsource it. Expert . Excerpt of coding book for the qualitative data Q successful communication in an OC. it must have good editors. the more attention they will normally receive. One interviewee emphasised that: The recipe is more or less to behave as they would in real life.6). reaping the benefits of digital communication. Scholars note that OCs are a means for companies to communicate with their audiences in ways that have not been possible before ( Kozinets. The more open an individual is. One needs to understand that OC- communication is person-driven and not company-driven. Openness is key to success. Expert 4 . Companies are able to build relationships with .2 stated that in the communication between community and company. Another key element is to release the desire for control of information (Expert . the issue of whether companies should use OCs or not is addressed.

because ey questions can be addressed to M the company representative w e an (Expert . Th ey sh ou ld ac t as th ey ar e po siti on ed an d as th e co rp or ati on - str at eg y re qu ire . Also. ye s th ey sh ou ld.4). t An interviewee proposed to that: su rvi ve .s participants since they perceive t their voice to be heard. the If I communication among the th n OCMs might be less.

.t discussions in a OCs concerning themselves will often be perceived as old fashioned. unable to provide answers which are resistant to “daylight” or just plain arrogant towards the customer (Expert .6).

It is no important to have both the te experts’ opinions about the d CMC elements from different th fields (outside views). s’ and op Downloaded by SHAHEED ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) (3) the company’s ini image. The researchers enquired als three questions to the OCMs o about their impression th towards: e (1) a sender’s O message image. Findings concerning be communication elements. and at . model’s key constructs is It is presented ( Table II). All interviewees vie believed that these form the ws impression they had of the ). lo Next. it influences the m way I see the organisation” bi ne (Community Interviewee- d 3). e representative behaves in a co fair way. In other Th words. di representative’s messages. organisation. if the company. bo This is illustrated by one th OCM who stated “that the gr company-representatives’ ou messages influence my ps impression of them. most interviewees e base their impressions on fin the company. each of the conceptual w. in turn. For ar example. influence s their impressions of both fro the company-representative m her/himself and company. on s It was found that the of majority of the interviewees an stated that the impressions O they form about the C company-representative (in were based on the sid impressions from the e message. ng which. C M (2) the sender’s image.

for literature highlights the lack of ex social context cues.. O 2006). co 2002). rt - In discussing the relevance 2. s Online contributions must on speak the “language” of the th target audience ( Zerfass. Boyd and Ellison m m (2007) claim that contributions un in digital spaces are persistent ic and searchable. The removal of at nonverbal cues may actually th increase attention to the e message itself ( Burgoon et al. as on community members might st read and refer to earlier yl messages. A message has to be C relevant to be read and de taken seriously by the pe OCMs. a Researchers propose that m conversations in computer. e us 2005) and write in a er. it will have a wit e positive impact” (Expert. the CMC. conversational voice ( Weil. Most experts agreed . nd Communication style. assumed to convey less social ar context cues than face-to-face gu ed conversations ( Short et al. it is not important w. These findings thus e support the idea that the ne relevance of a message is of ed high importance in computer- ed mediated environments. This is in line with the thi e statement of an OCM who s stated that “if a vi contribution is not relevant e to me. pl mediated environments are e. of messages.b mmunity. th 1976).. It is for proposed that: an O P1. h R 15). stressing the ati importance of providing relevant messages. and it sheds a negative Ex light on the author” pe (Community Interviewee- 2).

(2) Contrasting language styles resulted in more extreme perceptions than if users shared a common language style ( Adkins and Brashers. whereas the OCMs spoke as private users. It was found that only half of the Community-Interviewees believed that communication style has an impact to image 4 formation. Adkins and Brashers (1995) analyse the effects of “powerful” and “powerless” language on small CMC groups. This might be because the experts took the Downloaded by SHAHEED ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) companies perspectives. it is suggested that: . attractive and persuasive than the ones using “powerless” language. Existing literature supports communication style as an important construct for image formation. Based on the above discussion. 1995). They propose two conclusions: (1) Language style significantly impacts impression formation in CMC groups. This view contrasts the opinion of the experts. Those who use a “powerful” language style are thought to be more credible. Corporate impression 4 formation 2 3 Q target group.

I mean un it looks really silly if there are ic smilies in nearly every ati sentence (Community Interviewee. cr . OCMs viewed additional m information about the s company-representative as sh an important factor. e by being able to set-up member M a pages or profiles. m but I hate the use of too m many paralinguistics.15). In emails. 1995). st tend to over attribute yl perceived similarities and e create an idealised image of to the sender ( Walther. ou These findings are ld consistent with prior studies. however. un Reduced social cues in CMC ic allow senders to present ati themselves very selectively by carefully constructing on messages.P2. in which may reveal social and inf relational information” ( or Walther. this m is recognised as shouting ( m Adkins and Brashers. 1996). in turn. 190). such as al using capitals. be Scholars suggest that the lack wr of social context cues in CMC can be overcome through itt “various linguistic and en typographic manipulation. The more es S transparency and credibility a community offers. they on warned against an overflow lin of paralinguistics: e Personal information about a co moderator is very welcome. ge I s n OCMs generally agreed on on the importance of social context cues. m Paralinguistic cues. are often co context based. p. 1995. Receivers.9). the more sa o influential it is (Expert . on pl Paralinguistics were only atf considered to be relevant by or a minority of the OCMs.

S Affiliation. ov er us in g pa ral in gu ist ic fe at ur es su ch as ca pit al . Interviewees es emphasised that: ar e se en as im po rta nt. OCMs do not oc always appreciate companies ial participating in their co community ( Hogenkamp. ho w ev er. This is one of the main ex reasons why participants must t disclose their affiliation to the cu company. by everyone. nt 2007). T l such as capital letters or h emoticons are not liked P3.

It depends how they M behave. th Perceived similarity. mi 4). what does similar ” mean? Yes. Two wi interviewees stated that: ng cri In virtual communities this still holds in my opinion. Most e interviewees agreed that fol perceived similarity is an lo important concept. lar ity I mean.1). se The evidence was d consistent and based on th the findings. I prefer to speak ar to someone I think has the e same interests and values im than I have. the notion of ed similarity might be to achieved easier [relative “si to dissimilarity] (Expert . it is at concluded that: in th P4.7). because we ia have less clues to derive rel our image of a participant at […].13). company. I kind of trust this po person more (Community rta nt: Interviewee . . If they stick to the os community rules it is ok. ter However. t as long as they do not of only want to sell th something (Expert . Company members e are welcome in co communities with the nt prerequisite that they ex stick to the t community rules and of O disclose their C affiliation to the s. e ex Members in OC regard pe such things as honesty rts Downloaded by SHAHEED ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) […] as a precondition for str communication in OCs es (Expert .

Price et al. p w e Source credibility. I n a Sure. m m maybe language ability p e and slang. of-mouth information ( A a Brown and Reingen. suggest that perceived u s a similarity between t m individuals is a key factor h e affecting the i m persuasiveness of word- v . 1998). expressions. d e Gilly et al.15). two o a interviewees proposed that: m r p i Would you believe a t somebody not credible. or y someone you just don’t . o Harris and Dennis. The s study. Goldsmith et al. For example. i a so yes. if r they become salient in the e i posts. 1989. Scholars o r conceptualise source r t credibility in two ways: k ... 2011). if I do not trust the l t source. r S The interviews revealed that i all experts and most a m community interviewees i stressed the importance of c l credibility.4).. corporate credibility and s 1 ) endorser credibility ( f . a t The findings support b s previous studies. I have a negative s . Perceived similarity is f ( an important concept in h E communication activities e x in OCs. i like at all? (Expert . maybe similar s n behaviour on the internet s t (including) links to pages i e one likes or finds useful o r as well or provides links n e that appear to be useful s (Expert . n l u 1987. Same values. therefore. which o . 2000. n y without any expertise.S he way of communication. style. finds that: i P5.

pr g investors and other a es constituents believe in a t company’s trustworthiness and si i v expertise.1). (2002) who e n suggest that fo i m r p m r e ati s o s i n o n 4 a b 2 5 KAR ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) . Fombrun (1996) posits that e n corporate credibility is the im e extent to which consumers.o out the company he works C for (Community h Interviewee . This is in line with o Lafferty et al. or a The relationship between p v perceived source credibility or e and corporate impression is at a validated in numerous studies.

influences corporate impression formation.Q c ny-representative. affiliation. r Overall.  KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) . communities. relevance of messages. researchers have tended to T focus on subjects such as: 1• motivation to participate in communities. and 3• communities’ influence on customers’ behaviours and perceptions. namely. Important elements. important and P6. Even less research addresses the question of how corporate communication. This exploratory study has attempted to fill this gap. 2• types of communities. To date. Conclusion The increasing interest in OCs heightens the need for a T better understanding of h people gathering in those P7. targeting OCs. there has been little discussion about corporate communication targeting OCs. by evaluating the elements of corporate communication in OCs and their influence on corporate impression formation. perceived similarity. relevant elements in the T CMC were consistently 4 I identified. social context cues. as explained in the n concluding section. communication style. However.

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Corporate impressio n formatio n Appendix 1 435 .

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4Q 200 6. Topic 7 Source credibility 6 Perceived similarity . 200 7 (continued) No.43 6 17. Dwy er.

Bagozzi and How important do you consider social presence to be for an OCM that in an OC Dholakia. 1980.. Balmer. 2008 How do you consider a positive image to influence the intention to buy/recommend a buy/recommend a company’s products/services? company’s product 18 Image ¡ Influence on Godes and Mayzlin. 2004 How important do you consider source credibility to be for an OCM in an OC that has mainly topic/brand-related motives.. 1995 . Walther et al. How do you consider a positive attitude to influence the intention to buy/recommend a 2008 buy/recommend a company’s products/services? company’s product 17 Image ¡ Intention to Pina et al. 2004 How do you consider a positive image to influence word-of-mouth word-of-mouth communication by OCMs? Note: Developed for the present study Table AI. compared to an OCM that has mainly community-related motives? Is there any difference? Walther. How important do you consider similarity to be for an OCM that has in an OC DeShields and Kara. compared to an OCM that has mainly community related motives? Why? 11 Motives for participating Dholakia et al.. 1970. Walther. Pina et al. 2000 mainly topic/brand-related motives. 2005 . . 1980 . compared to an OCM that has mainly community-related motives? Is there any difference? 12 Motives for participating Simons et al. 1995 . Downloaded by SHAHEED ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) 1 No. 2008 Ajzen and Fishbein. compared to an OCM that has mainly community-related motives? Is there any difference? 13 Motives for participating Short et al.. 1996. 1996. compared to an OCM that has mainly community related motives? Why? How do you think does the perception in terms of user-user interactivity change if an OCM has mainly topic/brand related motives. 1976. compared to an OCM that has mainly community-related motives? Is there any difference? 15 Attitude towards the Ajzen and Fishbein. Barich and How do you consider a positive image to influence the attitude to the company Kotler. Mykytyn et al. 14 Motives for participating 2001 How important do you consider social context cues to be for an OCM in an OC that has mainly topic/brand-related motives. 2002 has mainly topic/brand-related motives. Brown. van Riel. 1991 .. company of an OCM? 1998 . 2002 How do you think does the perception in terms of user-message interactivity in an OC change if an OCM has mainly topic/brand related motives. Topic Literature Question 10 Motives for participating Bagozzi and Dholakia. .. . Pina et 16 Attitude ¡ Intention to al.

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Corporate impressio n formatio n 437 .

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4 Social presence Wiener and et al. CEO). 2004 discussion it should clearly disclose their affiliation to the company and why they are participating? Why? Do you think a company member should only disclose their affiliation to the company or also their status . Topic Literature yes.. why? 1 Relevance of Kiesler et al. Weil. 2006 5 Affiliation Warnick.c communication 2006 3 Social context Mehrabian.g. 1986 et al. head of communication. If No.43 8 17. Jacobson. CIO.. message ( 2 Informal Rice et al. marketing director. CFO. 1995. 1976 . 4Q in this company (e. 1969 cues Sproull and Kiesler. Argyle and . 1991 Walther et al.

Appendix 2 .

2002 . 1988 . 2002 . 1969. Stammerjohan et al. How can messages of other community members influence the impression you communication 2001 . McAlexander et al. Ariely. How can the similarity of a company-representative influence the impression similarity 1963. Liu interactivity do you consider to be important in online communities and why? and Shrum. Rafaeli. if any. DeShields and Kara. 2006 . 1994.. Topic Literature Question 6 Perceived Lazarsfeld and Merton. Henning -Thurau et al. 1986. Bickard and Schindler. 1987. of this 1998 . Gruen et al. 1990. Goldsmith et al. Ohanian. 1984 . Melewar and Karaosmanoglu. Sicilia et al. . Christodoulides and de Chernatony. In the literature. 2005 .... 1997 . Shih. have of a company-representative? Lafferty et al. 1987. Dwyer. .. 2000 .. Clow and Baack. . Godes and Mayzlin. Belch How does the credibility of a company-representative influence the image you and Belch. 2006 . Wright. Dellaert. 2000 7 Source credibility McGuire. 2004 . 2005. Massey. 2002. Downloaded by SHAHEED ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) 2 No. 2002. Bagozzi et al. 2004. How would you define similarity? Gilly et al. Brown and Reingen. 2000. Sproull and Kiesler. 2007 Note: Developed for the present study Table AII. we can find three kinds of interactivity: human–machine. human–message and human–human interactivity. 1998. have about the company-representative? Baumgarth.. Dellande and Gilly. 2007 9 Interpersonal Kozinets. 1998. . Price you have about him? et al. 1999 . Tapscott. 2004 . 2004 8 Interactivity Toffler. Which. 2006 . 1954. 2004 . Evans. 2003.

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Switzerland. Charles’s publications include Marketing the e- D Inreon Business. To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight. research monograph Objects of Desire: Consumer Behaviour in Shopping Centre Choice. M SA (car Management Decision. Journal of Brand Management and International Journal of Management B manufact Reviews among others. of Bang Nguyen is an Associate Professor at ECUST School of Business in Shanghai. MBA and executive (B Renault courses with companies such as Nestlè. Melewar is the corresponding author can be contacted at: A. Safeway. His research m (technolo into shopping styles has received extensive coverage in the popular media. MBA. Christine’s research interests include online marketing. and ris nal International Journal of Technology Management. Charles was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence for Ph Europe at improving the interactive student learning experience. corporate image th MBA from and reputation. MARA Institute of Technology in Malaysia. He has published in the Journal of Marketing Management. management group at the School of Management and Law of Zurich University of Applied Sciences. ZHAW School of Management r hip and Law. Bang has extensive knowledge in service organisations s previous (consumer products/services) and has published widely in journals such as Journal of Services Marketing.C. corporate identity and . London. MSc. Previously. urer). He has previous experience at Brunel.uk Ph Marketing Charles Dennis is a Professor of Marketing and Retailing at Lincoln Business School. Currently she is working as lecturer and head of reputation o .ac. T.com Or visit our web site for further details: www. She is a jury member a Institute of the Swiss Marketing Trophy. ut and an Switzerland. Journal of Consumer Marketing. He is a Visiting Professor at Sc Nissan University of Malaya. Malaysia. His research interests h gy. Ch professio Journal of Strategic Marketing. She include customer management. UK. UK. and De Montfort University. He has presented at various national and international tin experienc conferences including EMAC and AM. Bang is an experienced consultant and advises on marketing and e es as brand development for SMEs and start-ups. London. t. Tata and Sony.A Brunel gy company providing an online trading platform) and Marketing Manager Europe at Ri3k Ltd. China. TC’s research interests include branding.D. Charles is a Chartered Marketer and has been lds nd and elected as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing for work helping to modernise the teaching a Eastern of the discipline.melewar@mdx. Suisse international marketing strategy. (1st & 2nd editions) (joint-authored with Dr Lisa Harris). Vietnam. the research-based e-Retailing and fro Ltd. Warwick Business School. online communities. University of D) Director Lincoln. Ph. Ha Customer T C Melewar (BSc.emeraldinsight. consumer or has behaviour.com/reprints . His teaching and research area is (e-)retail and consumer behaviour – the vital final link of the ho Switzerla Marketing process – satisfying the end consumer. customer relationship management.) is Professor of Marketing and Strategy at Middlesex University llie Relations Business School. She teaches Marketing Management in undergraduate courses as well as Online Marketing e New York in “certificate of advanced science” courses and “master of advanced science” courses. (technology b University company providing an online trading platform). branding and issues of fairness and trust. TC teaches Brand and Marketing lli at Management. and International Marketing on a range of undergraduate. Journal of General Management. services marketing. Wi Manager Loughborough University. UK. he ut Technolo held faculty positions at Oxford Brookes University and RMIT University.c.

2016. Taiwan Department of Marketing. T. China Middlesex University. ChenChen-Chu Matilda Chen-Chu Matilda Chen NguyenBang Bang Nguyen MelewarT. East China University of Science and Technology. Shanghai. Taichung.C. London. UK . This article has been cited by: 1. An investigation of the uses of corporate reputation. [ Abstract] [Full Text] [ PDF] Downloaded by SHAHEED ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO INST OF SCI & TECH KARACHI At 23:50 25 November 2016 (PT) . 357-376. Melewar The Wide Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.C. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal 19:3..